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In Re Thomas

OPINION FILED JANUARY 17, 1978.

IN RE NORMAN EUGENE THOMAS, A MINOR. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

NORMAN EUGENE THOMAS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Henry County; the Hon. JOSEPH G. CARPENTIER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal by Norman Eugene Thomas, a minor, from an order entered by the circuit court of Henry County which committed him to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The factual situation which ultimately resulted in the minor's commitment to the Illinois Department of Corrections had its inception when on June 12, 1974, a petition was filed by the People which requested that the minor be adjudicated a ward of the court. The petition alleged that the minor was 13 years of age and had committed the offense of theft. An adjudicatory hearing was held on September 13, 1974, during which the evidence established that the minor had participated with two other individuals in the theft of $921.88. There is some discrepancy in the record as to where this theft occurred but such discrepancy is not material since the minor both prior to and during the hearing admitted his participation in the offense and in fact assisted the police in recovering the proceeds of the theft. The trial court adjudged the minor delinquent and made him a ward of the court. The director of court services was appointed guardian and the minor was returned to his mother's home subject to supervision of the director.

On October 8, 1974, a dispositional report was filed in which a number of previous thefts in which the minor participated were noted. No formal action had been taken by the People in regard to these thefts; however, three days prior to the adjudicatory hearing, the minor was involved in the theft of approximately $200 from a liquor store. A detention hearing was held on September 11, 1974, regarding this offense and the minor was ordered to be detained. The dispositional report further stated that the minor had problems at school which were primarily the result of the minor's propensity for being a truant.

On October 5, 1974, the first of a number of dispositional hearings was held and the minor was placed with the Youth Farm, his guardianship remaining in the county director of court services.

A second dispositional hearing was held on May 16, 1975, at the conclusion of which the minor was returned to his mother's home. On December 30, 1975, the minor was again ordered detained and a dispositional hearing was scheduled for January 13, 1976. Prior to this hearing a dispositional report was filed which noted that the minor had progressed quite well at the Youth Farm and as a consequence had been released on May 16, 1975; however, subsequent to his release he had been charged with disorderly conduct but said charge had been dismissed. The report noted further truancy problems and finally that he had been taken into custody on December 30, 1975, for his alleged involvement in the theft of money from a liquor store on December 29, 1975.

The evidence adduced at the dispositional hearing established that the minor defendant was in the liquor store at the time of the alleged theft, but taking the stand in his own behalf he contradicted the testimony of an employee of the store that he had taken money from the cash register. At the conclusion of the hearing the trial court returned the minor to the Youth Farm.

On July 7, 1976, a further dispositional report was filed in which it was stated that the Youth Farm had recommended that the minor be returned to his mother's home but subject to supervision. This report noted that the minor had applied for summer employment and noted that while at the Farm he had been elected treasurer of the student council, then secretary, and eventually mayor. The report was laudatory of the minor's conduct and progress while at the Youth Farm. On July 9, 1976, the minor was returned to his mother's home subject to the supervision of the Director of Probation.

On December 16, 1976, notice of a further dispositional hearing was filed. A further report disclosed that the minor, subsequent to his release from the Youth Farm, again became embroiled in disciplinary and criminal problems. Upon returning to school he again had truancy problems and on November 12, 1976, he was apprehended at a grocery store in Kewanee for shoplifting. When apprehended three cartons of cigarettes were found on his person. The minor voluntarily gave a statement to the probation officer regarding this offense and further supplied helpful information to the police of Kewanee concerning drug traffic in the city.

The final dispositional hearing concerning the minor was held on December 28, 1976. During this hearing evidence established that the November 12 shoplifting incident was the minor's only involvement in a crime since his release from the Youth Farm, however, between September 9 and December 28 of 1976 he had been absent from school for a total of 78 days, of which 37 absences were unexcused. The minor defendant's mother testified that her son had been doing well at home but had associated with two individuals who exerted a bad influence on him. The mother further testified that her son had a part time job which earned him approximately $25 per week and that she wanted him to remain with her.

At the conclusion of the dispositional hearing the trial court ordered that the minor, Norman Eugene Thomas, be committed to the Juvenile Division of the Illinois Department of Corrections. From this order this appeal has ensued.

The first issue presented by the minor is his contention that the juvenile court acted without statutory authorization and deprived him of due process of law by committing him to the Juvenile Division of the Department of Corrections. In support of this broad contention the minor asserts that the trial court acted without statutory authorization when it ordered him returned to the home of his mother without imposing any conditions upon his release except to place him under the supervision and guardianship of the Henry County Probation Department.

• 1 We have set forth a lengthy and detailed recitation concerning the five dispositional hearings which were held by the circuit court of Henry County. Two of these hearings resulted in the minor being returned to the home of his mother and it is true that while he was a ward of the court and supervision was placed in the director of court services, on neither occasion were any conditions imposed upon such release. The pivotal question posed by this contention of the minor is whether it is mandatory for the court to impose conditions upon a minor's release when that individual is placed on probation. This court in In re Richards (1977), ___ Ill. App.3d ___ made the observation that if a court expects specific activities or conduct on the part of a defendant, the better practice would seem to be to specify the intended conditions. In the case of Richards this court, however, concluded that an order in which the trial court retained a minor's wardship but otherwise placed his custody with his parents was a temporary order and specification of terms of probation was not required. (In re Richards (1977), ___ Ill. App.3d ___) We further upon examination of the pertinent statute, section 5-3 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, par. 705-3(2)(a)), find the following language:

"§ 5-3. Probation.) (1) * * *.

(2) The court may as a condition of probation or of conditional discharge ...


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