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In Re G.b.

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 18, 1981.

IN RE G.B., A MINOR, APPELLEE (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT).


Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County, the Hon. John DeLaMar, Judge, presiding. JUSTICE RYAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This case arose out of proceedings against G.B., a minor, upon a petition for an order to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for failure to obey an order to attend school. On December 1, 1978, a petition was filed pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, par. 701-1 et seq.) alleging that G.B. was an habitually truant minor otherwise in need of supervision and that it would be in the best interest of the minor and the public that he be adjudged a ward of the court. On February 7, 1979, G.B. admitted the allegations of the petition and agreed to a continuance under supervision conditioned upon an order that he attend school. The minor did not attend school as directed and was found in contempt of court. As a consequence of that finding of contempt, G.B. was placed on "probation" for one year beginning on May 31, 1979. He was ordered to serve 19 days at the Champaign County Youth Detention Center and pay court costs of $114.10, and was again ordered to attend school. No appeal was taken from that order. The period of detention was served; however, no payment of the amount assessed as costs was made.

On October 3, 1979, a second contempt petition was filed, alleging the continued truancy of the minor and seeking a second order to show cause why G.B. should not once again be held in contempt. On December 12, 1979, the minor stipulated to the allegations of this second petition and was again held to be in contempt of court. A petition to vacate the stipulation was dismissed, and on January 21, 1980, the court again placed the minor on probation for a period of one year, ordered that he be held at the detention center for 60 days, and again ordered G.B. to pay court costs of $114.10. The trial court allowed the minor to post bond pending appeal of this second adjudication of contempt.

The appellate court held that the contempt finding was for criminal contempt and that while a court possesses inherent power to enforce its orders through contempt proceedings, which may include imposing a sentence of probation, the focus of criminal contempt is punishment, not rehabilitation. Consequently, the appellate court held that the trial court abused its discretion in placing the minor on probation in this case. Further, the appellate court held that only those costs attributable to the contempt proceedings could properly be assessed against the minor. The order placing G.B. on probation was reversed and the cause remanded for further proceedings, including a determination of costs properly chargeable to the minor. (88 Ill. App.3d 64, 69.) We granted the State's petition for leave to appeal (73 Ill.2d R. 315).

The minor argues in this appeal that since he was alleged to be a minor otherwise in need of supervision under the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, par. 702-3) and, consequently, not subject to a dispositional order of probation (see Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, par. 705-2(1)(b)), the court lacked the authority to accomplish indirectly, by way of contempt, that which it could not do directly under the Act.

We are not persuaded by this argument. G.B. was not placed on probation pursuant to a dispositional order under section 5-2(1)(b) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, par. 705-2(1)(b)). On February 7, 1979, the cause came on for hearing on the petition filed December 1, 1978, which alleged that G.B. was a minor otherwise in need of supervision. Pursuant to section 4-7 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, par. 704-7), the cause was continued by agreement upon the specific condition that he attend school. The contempt proceedings initiated March 5, 1979, were filed because of a violation of this interim order, the validity of which has not been challenged by the parties to this appeal. This, therefore, is not a case governed by the Juvenile Court Act. Rather, the propriety of placing this minor on probation depends upon the court's power to impose punishment for contempt for the violation of its order.

Courts> have the inherent power to enforce their orders by way of contempt. (People v. Javaras (1972), 51 Ill.2d 296, 299; People v. Bloom (1966), 35 Ill.2d 255, 258, rev'd on other grounds (1968), 391 U.S. 194, 20 L.Ed.2d 522, 88 S.Ct. 1477; People v. Loughran (1954), 2 Ill.2d 258, 262; People ex rel. Rusch v. Enger (1936), 364 Ill. 464, 466.) The power to punish for contempt does not depend on constitutional or legislative grant. Because the power to enforce court orders through contempt proceedings inheres in the judicial branch of the government, the legislature may not restrict its use. In re Baker (1978), 71 Ill.2d 480, 484; People ex rel. Rusch v. White (1929), 334 Ill. 465.

Prior to January 1, 1974, a minor who violated an order of the court could be dealt with as a delinquent; however, after that date, a minor who violated a court order issued under the Juvenile Court Act could only be treated as a minor otherwise in need of supervision. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, pars. 702-2(b), 702-3(d).) Prior to January 1, 1974, a minor who violated a lawful court order as a delinquent could be put on probation under section 5-2(1)(a) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 37, par. 705-2(1)(a)). After January 1, 1974, a minor who violated a lawful order of the court as a minor otherwise in need of supervision could not be placed on probation under the Act, since probation, as such, is not one of the authorized dispositions for such minors under section 5-2(1)(b) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, par. 705-2(1)(b)). In In re Baker this court held that the provisions of the Act did not deprive the court of its authority to enforce its orders by use of its contempt power. The court, in that case, discussed the amendments effective January 1, 1974, and stated:

"It is equally clear that the amendments did nothing to deprive the circuit courts> of the use of their contempt powers to enforce supervision orders." In re Baker (1978), 71 Ill.2d 480, 484.

We also find In re Baker helpful in deciding whether a sentence of probation may be appropriately imposed as punishment upon one found to be in contempt of court for violation of a lawful order. In that case the court held the minor in contempt for violating the court's order of supervision adjudging her a delinquent and placed her on probation. The minor contended that the same result — placing her on probation with the Department of Children and Family Services — could have been accomplished by proceeding under the Act instead of using the contempt power of the court. This court stated:

"Since the contempt power exists and there is a factual basis for that holding, the order cannot be said to be erroneous simply because an alternative route to the same objective was available. The trial court made a specific finding that the alternative remedy was `without sufficient deterrent effect,' and respondent has presented nothing which convinces us of any impropriety in that finding." (In re Baker (1978), 71 Ill.2d 480, 485.)

Thus, finding a minor in contempt and placing the minor on probation as punishment for contempt have been approved by this court as an alternate procedure to those provided for in the Act in dealing with minors who contumaciously violate lawful court orders. However, in In re Baker the trial court, because of the contempt finding, adjudicated the minor a delinquent. Following the amendment effective January 1, 1974, the definition of "delinquent," as found in section 2-2 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, par. 702-2), includes only those who violate statutory authority. Therefore, this court held that the trial court in In re Baker could not use a contempt finding for violating a court order as a basis of an adjudication of delinquency under the Act. This court, however, affirmed the trial court insofar as the contempt order and the order placing the minor on probation were concerned, but reversed the adjudication of delinquency. Thus, in In re Baker the use of the contempt power and the imposition of the sentence of probation were approved as an appropriate disposition of a minor who violated the orders of the court issued pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act.

The minor argues in this case that probation is not appropriate because the violation constituted criminal contempt, which, he contends, should provoke an order imposing punishment upon the contemnor. It is argued that the purpose of probation is rehabilitation and not punishment. Therefore the minor contends a sentence of probation should not be imposed for criminal contempt. We do not agree with this reasoning. Under the Unified Code of Corrections, probation is provided as an authorized sentence for a criminal offense. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, pars. 1005-5-3, 1005-6-1.) We see no reason why it should not also be an authorized penalty imposed upon one found guilty of criminal contempt. Our constitution provides:

"All penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful ...


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