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People v. Taylor

OPINION FILED JUNE 8, 1979.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

JAMES E. TAYLOR, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County, the Hon. John S. Ghent, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE UNDERWOOD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On December 9, 1976, defendant, James Earl Taylor, was convicted in a bench trial of burglary, armed robbery and rape, and was sentenced to concurrent terms of 6 to 18 years for the two latter offenses. Defendant was 16 years old when the crimes were committed and 17 at the time of trial. On August 12, 1976, before defendant's criminal trial, the circuit court of Winnebago County had held a transfer hearing pursuant to section 2-7(3) of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)) and at its conclusion had ordered that defendant be tried as an adult for the crimes charged. On appeal, defendant argued that the statute permitting transfer of juveniles to criminal court was unconstitutional in that it denied juveniles due process of law; that the trial court should have suppressed a confession defendant gave police; and that the evidence at defendant's trial had been insufficient to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The appellate court found the transfer statute constitutional, but agreed with defendant that his confession should have been suppressed. That court therefore reversed and remanded, finding no need to consider whether the evidence at trial had been sufficient to support defendant's conviction. (61 Ill. App.3d 37.) We allowed defendant leave to appeal.

At trial the complaining witness, a 70-year-old woman who lived alone, testified that one night in late July 1976 an intruder broke into her home by removing the dining room window screen. She heard a noise and, turning, saw a black man sitting in the window. When she ran to the front door screaming, the man stopped her, pulled a knife and threatened to kill her if she screamed again. He then tied her hands, covered her head and raped her. Next he made her get her purse and went through it while sitting on top of her. The last time she knew, several months earlier, the purse had contained $2,000 and she never took it out of the house. After the intruder left, the money was missing. The witness could not identify defendant, but the dining room window screen, found outside the home, had defendant's fingerprint on it.

Defendant was arrested at 9:30 on the morning of July 30, 1976. He was given incomplete Miranda warnings and questioned. When defendant asked to talk to an attorney, he was allowed to place a call and, receiving no answer, leave a message. Questioning continued. The attorney returned defendant's call and refused to take the case. Defendant told police "he would rather have Mr. Olson but he didn't know who to get now"; he was upset and crying. Questioning nevertheless continued, and defendant gave a signed statement at 3 p.m., admitting that he went to the victim's house with another man, but stating that he ran away when the other entered. At 10:45 that night defendant gave another signed statement, admitting the burglary and armed robbery but denying the rape. At sometime during the giving of this statement defendant asked whether he should have an attorney and was told that it was up to him. At 10:30 the following morning defendant was given full Miranda warnings and he signed a waiver form. The officers present testified that he made no specific request for an attorney. He thereafter gave an oral statement admitting the rape as well as the other offenses. The trial court held the first two confessions inadmissible because police elicited them after defendant had requested an attorney. The court held the third confession admissible, however, because defendant had validly waived his right to counsel. The appellate court reversed, holding that the State had not met its "heavy burden" of showing that defendant had waived his previously invoked right to counsel. 61 Ill. App.3d 37, 44.

Section 2-7 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)) provides:

"(3) If a petition alleges commission by a minor 13 years of age or over of an act which constitutes a crime under the laws of this State, and, on motion of the State's Attorney, a Juvenile Judge, designated by the Chief Judge of the Circuit to hear and determine such motions, after investigation and hearing but before commencement of the adjudicatory hearing, finds that it is not in the best interests of the minor or of the public to proceed under this Act, the court may enter an order permitting prosecution under the criminal laws.

(a) In making its determination on a motion to permit prosecution under the criminal laws, the court shall consider among other matters: (1) whether there is sufficient evidence upon which a grand jury may be expected to return an indictment; (2) whether there is evidence that the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner; (3) the age of the minor; (4) the previous history of the minor; (5) whether there are facilities particularly available to the Juvenile Court for the treatment and rehabilitation of the minor; and (6) whether the best interest of the minor and the security of the public may require that the minor continue in custody or under supervision for a period extending beyond his minority. The rules of evidence shall be the same as under Section 5-1 of this Act."

Defendant argues that the statute denies juveniles due process in that (1) the judge is not required to state his reasons for ordering the transfer; (2) no standard of proof is articulated; (3) the relaxed rules of evidence used at dispositional hearings are prescribed; (4) the judge is not required to weigh the specified criteria according to a set formula; (5) the juvenile may not appeal a transfer order until after his trial. In sum, defendant contends that the statute does not adequately safeguard the juvenile's rights at a critically important stage of the proceedings against him because it does not sufficiently circumscribe the untrammeled and potentially arbitrary discretion of the judge.

We do not agree that the statute is constitutionally deficient. The starting point for any due process analysis of juvenile transfer statutes is Kent v. United States (1966), 383 U.S. 541, 16 L.Ed.2d 84, 86 S.Ct. 1045. Interpreting the requirement of "full investigation" in the District of Columbia Juvenile Court Act, and recognizing the "critically important" nature of the transfer proceedings to the juvenile, the Supreme Court there held that certain procedural safeguards must attend a decision to transfer:

"[W]e conclude that, as a condition to a valid waiver order, petitioner was entitled to a hearing, including access by his counsel to the social records and probation or similar reports which presumably are considered by the court, and to a statement of reasons for the Juvenile Court's decision. We believe that this result is required by the statute read in the context of constitutional principles relating to due process and the assistance of counsel." (383 U.S. 541, 557, 16 L.Ed.2d 84, 95, 86 S.Ct. 1045, 1055.)

Although the Kent decision rests primarily on statutory construction, the suggestion that the safeguards outlined there were guaranteed by due process was reinforced by a subsequent reference to Kent in In re Gault (1967), 387 U.S. 1, 30, 18 L.Ed.2d 527, 547-48, 87 S.Ct. 1428, 1445. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has said:

"Whether Gault and Kent, taken together, form a constitutional imperative as to juvenile waiver proceedings is not self-evident. However, Kent and Gault do make it unquestionably clear that juvenile court proceedings that affect a young person's substantial rights `must measure up to the essentials of due process and fair treatment' [In re Gault (1967), 387 U.S. 1, 30, 18 L.Ed.2d 527, 548, 87 S.Ct. 1428, 1445]." Kemplen v. Maryland (4th Cir. 1970), 428 F.2d 169, 173.

See In re Beasley (1977), 66 Ill.2d 385, 391.

The statute challenged here became effective on October 1, 1973. Under prior law, transfer of juveniles to criminal court had been largely a matter of prosecutorial discretion. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3); People v. Sprinkle (1974), 56 Ill.2d 257.) Unlike the prior law, the present statute closely parallels the District of Columbia transfer statute as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Kent. Indeed the council commentary to the new provision indicates that the statute was amended in response to the Kent decision. (Ill. Ann. Stat., ch. 37, par. 702-7, Council Commentary, at 81 (Smith-Hurd Supp. 1979).) The six criteria that the statute sets out for the judge to consider closely follow the District of Columbia criteria set out in an appendix to the Kent opinion. (383 U.S. 541, 566, 16 L.Ed.2d 84, 100, 86 S.Ct. 1045, 1060.) Again the council commentary notes that, although prior law had not specified such standards, "[c]riteria for transfer suggested by the Kent case are now listed in the section." (Ill. Ann. Stat., ch. 37, par. 702-7, Council Commentary, at 81 (Smith-Hurd Supp. 1979).) We think that the evidence that the legislature expressly followed the Supreme Court's guidelines in drafting the present transfer statute reinforces the normal presumption of constitutionality that attaches to all statutes. We note that the only court to consider the constitutionality of this statute rejected a claim that the statutory standards were too ambiguous, holding that they were "specific enough to satisfy due process." United States ex rel. Pedrosa v. Sielaf (N.D. Ill. 1977), 434 F. Supp. 493, 497.

Turning to defendant's specific arguments, we believe he may not properly claim that he was denied due process because the statute does not require the judge to state his reasons for ordering a transfer; here the judge did state his reasons. The judge found sufficient evidence for a grand jury to return an indictment for the crimes charged, as well as evidence that the crimes were committed in an aggressive, premeditated and violent manner. He further took judicial notice of the juvenile court file showing that defendant had an extensive prior history of delinquency. Finally, he found, based on expert testimony, that there were no juvenile facilities available for dealing adequately with one in defendant's situation and that transfer was in the best interests of defendant and the People. We nonetheless comment on defendant's argument.

The Supreme Court in Kent held that the juvenile court must "accompany its waiver order with a statement of the reasons or considerations therefor * * * with sufficient specificity to permit meaningful review." (383 U.S. 541, 561, 16 L.Ed.2d 84, 97, 86 S.Ct. 1045, 1057.) The court indicated, however:

"We do not read the statute as requiring that this statement must be formal or that it should necessarily include conventional findings of fact." (383 U.S. 541, ...


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