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People Ex Rel. Carey v. White

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 15, 1976.

THE PEOPLE EX REL. BERNARD CAREY, STATE'S ATTORNEY, PETITIONER,

v.

WILLIAM S. WHITE, JUDGE, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. William S. White, Judge, presiding.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an original action brought by the State's Attorney of Cook County, in which he has petitioned for the issuance of a writ of mandamus (58 Ill.2d R. 381) directed to the Honorable William S. White, a respondent, who is the presiding judge of the juvenile division of the circuit court of Cook County, ordering him to expunge certain orders he entered directing that jury trials be granted to certain minors, the respondents David Morris and Glenn Young, in pending delinquency proceedings under the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, par. 701-1 et seq.).

Petitions charging Morris and Young with delinquency were filed in the juvenile division of the circuit court of Cook County. Young was alleged to have committed aggravated battery and Morris was alleged to have committed murder in a separate and unrelated incident. Before there was any hearing on the petitions the attorneys for the respondents appeared before Judge White and requested trials by jury. On August 13, 1976, Judge White allowed the motions of both respondents. We ordered all proceedings in the circuit court stayed pending our disposition of the petition for mandamus.

Judge White considered that the minor respondents had a statutory right to a jury trial under the Juvenile Court Act. He relied on section 1-2(3) of the Act, which provides:

"In all procedures under this Act, the following shall apply:

(a) The procedural rights assured to the minor shall be the rights of adults unless specifically precluded by laws which enhance the protection of such minors." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, par. 701-2(3)(a).)

Adults are given the right to a trial by jury by article I, section 13, of the Constitution of 1970. Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 13. See also Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 103-6.

The petitioner contends that Judge White had no authority to order jury trials since sections of the Juvenile Court Act preclude trials by jury in that they specifically assign the fact-finding responsibilities to the circuit judge. He argues that those provisions that require the circuit judge to make factual determinations enhance the protections of minors subject to the provisions of the Act and thus Judge White erred in basing his order on section 1-2(3).

We state first that we consider it is appropriate to exercise original jurisdiction here. The petitioner contends that the judge lacked jurisdiction to enter the orders and that they are void. This court has held that mandamus is proper to expunge a void order entered by the court without jurisdiction. (People ex rel. Ward v. Salter, 28 Ill.2d 612, 615; People ex rel. Bradley v. McAuliffe, 24 Ill.2d 75, 78.) Too, we have held that mandamus may be awarded when the issues involved are of great importance to the administration of justice even if all the normal critieria for its issuance are not satisfied. (People ex rel. Carey v. Covelli, 61 Ill.2d 394, 401; People ex rel. Hanrahan v. Felt, 48 Ill.2d 171, 173-74.) We consider the petition here warrants the exercise of original jurisdiction.

We are not presented with a constitutional question: the parties recognize that neither our constitution nor the United States Constitution guarantees a trial by jury in juvenile proceedings. (McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528, 29 L.Ed.2d 647, 91 S.Ct. 1976; In re Fucini, 44 Ill.2d 305.) The narrow question presented is whether trial by jury in juvenile proceedings is a right which under section 1-2(3) of the Act is "specifically precluded by laws which enhance the protection of such minors."

We judge that a review of the provisions of the Juvenile Court Act compels the conclusion that sections which require the court to make the factual determinations under the Act preclude the use of a jury at all stages of a juvenile proceeding.

To illustrate, after a proceeding is initiated against a minor by petition, the circuit court may issue a warrant to take the minor into custody. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, par. 703-1(2).) When the minor is taken into custody the Act imposes on the court the duty of making a factual determination of whether there is probable cause to believe the minor is delinquent, neglected, dependent or otherwise in need of supervision, as defined by the Act. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, pars. 703-6(1) and (2).

At an adjudicatory hearing, which is the stage of the proceeding here, the circuit court is also designated to serve as the trier of fact. Sections 4-6 ...


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