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In Re L.h.

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 10, 1981.

IN RE L.H., A MINOR. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

L.H., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. ROBERT J. STEIGMANN, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied January 8, 1982.

The General Assembly has said that in delinquency proceedings there are to be two hearings — one adjudicatory, one dispositional.

Not one hearing. Two hearings.

And the Juvenile Court Act spells out the legislative intent with pristine clarity.

Now to the case at our bench.

Petitions were filed alleging that respondent was a delinquent minor in that he had committed nine residential burglaries. On March 26, 1981, respondent appeared in court and stipulated to three of the nine counts, with the State agreeing to drop the remaining charges. Judge Steigmann asked what agreement the parties had reached:

"[PROSECUTOR]: Your Honor, we'd like to get a presentence report done by the Champaign County Probation Department in this matter and continue the cause as is convenient with the Court.

THE COURT: Okay. Mr. Hooker [defense counsel], is that your understanding?

MR. HOOKER: It is, Your Honor. The only agreement is to dismiss the remaining counts."

The court accepted the parties' agreement, found that respondent had committed three burglaries and dismissed the other six counts. The court made no further findings but directed the Champaign County Probation Department to prepare a report on respondent.

On April 30, 1981, a hearing was held at which Judge Steigmann stated that he had read and considered the report from the probation department. At this hearing, Nancy Stevens, director of the Learning Community in Champaign, testified concerning respondent's participation in that program, and respondent himself testified regarding his desire to graduate from high school and get full-time employment. At the close of the hearing, Judge Steigmann entered a finding that it was in the best interests of respondent and the public that he be adjudicated a delinquent and made a ward of the court. He then explained why he thought probation would be an inappropriate disposition and ordered respondent committed to the Department of Corrections.

LEGISLATIVE INTENT

Even a cursory examination of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 37, pars. 701-1 to 708-4) reveals that the procedure contemplated by the Act was flagrantly violated in this case. A court is first to hold an adjudicatory hearing, wherein it considers only whether the respondent is a delinquent. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 37, par. 704-6.) After that hearing, the court is to make its determination whether respondent is a delinquent. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 37, par. 704-8(1).) Upon finding him a delinquent, the court should determine whether the minor's and the public's best interests require that he be made a ward of the court. If the court so finds, then it "shall adjudge him a ward of the ...


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