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In Re Muro

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 11, 1980.

IN RE LINDA MURO. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

LINDA MURO, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. WILBUR A. FLESSNER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE CRAVEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

___ N.E.2d ___ On March 23, 1979, respondent, Linda Muro, was found hitchhiking in a confused state on an interstate highway in Champaign County. Respondent is 34 years old and a resident of Peoria County.

Respondent was brought to the Champaign police department where she was interviewed by a social worker. Thereafter she was hospitalized at Mercy Hospital in Urbana. On March 26, 1979, a petition for involuntary judicial admission to a mental health facility was filed with the circuit court of Champaign County. On March 29, 1979, a hearing was scheduled for April 2, 1979, to determine whether respondent was a person subject to involuntary admission. The hearing was to be held in Rantoul, Champaign County.

On April 2, 1979, prior to the commencement of the hearing, respondent, by her attorney, made an oral motion to transfer the commitment hearing to Peoria County. The trial court heard arguments on the motion, denied respondent's request for change of venue without stating a basis therefor and called the matter for immediate hearing in Rantoul.

After the hearing, the court found respondent to be in need of mental treatment and subject to involuntary admission to a mental health facility. The court ordered respondent to be hospitalized with the Department of Mental Health at the Zeller Mental Health Zone Center, Peoria.

• 1 Respondent appeals from the order of involuntary commitment and the order denying her motion for change of venue. The appeal involves a single issue: Whether the trial court should have allowed respondent's motion for a change of venue.

Section 3-800 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1978 Supp., ch. 91 1/2, par. 3-800) provides, in part:

"(a) Unless otherwise indicated, court hearings under this Chapter shall be held pursuant to this Article. * * * Any party may request a change of venue or transfer to any other county because of the convenience of parties or witnesses or the condition of the respondent. The respondent may have the proceedings transferred to the county of his residence."

At the April 2, 1979, hearing, respondent requested that the hearing be held in Peoria County where she resides.

The State argues that the trial court did not err in denying respondent's motion for a change of venue because the decision to allow the transfer is a determination within the trial court's discretion. The State, citing United States v. Cook (7th Cir. 1970), 432 F.2d 1093, cert. denied (1971), 401 U.S. 996, 28 L.Ed.2d 535, 91 S.Ct. 1224, observes that in the construction of statutes, the word "may," as opposed to "shall," is indicative of discretion or choice between two or more alternatives.

While the foregoing rule of thumb was recited in Cook, the Court, in the same sentence, qualified the rule by noting that the context in which the word appears must be the controlling factor.

"`"May" ordinarily connotes discretion, but neither in lay or legal understanding is the result inexorable. Rather, the conclusion to be reached "depends on the context of the statute, and on whether it is fairly to be presumed that it was the intention of the legislature to confer a discretionary power or to impose an imperative duty."'" 432 F.2d 1093, 1098, quoting Thompson v. Clifford (D.C. Cir. 1968), 408 F.2d 154, 158.

The supreme court in People ex rel. Barrett v. Barrett (1964), 31 Ill.2d 360, 364-65, 201 N.E.2d 849, 851, stated another rule of statutory construction: "[S]ignificance and effect should, if possible, without destroying the sense or effect of the law, be accorded every paragraph, sentence, phrase and word. [Citation.] A statute should be so construed, if possible, that no word, clause or sentence is rendered meaningless or superfluous." See also People v. Warren (1977), 69 Ill.2d 620, 627, 373 N.E.2d 10.

We agree with respondent's contention that the plain meaning of section 3-800 mandates the trial court to transfer the case to the ...


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