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In Re J.n.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County, the Hon. William H. Ellsworth, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied May 27, 1982.

The appeal involved here is from an order imposing a term of supervision upon J.N., a minor, after he was found guilty of criminal damage to property. The appellate court, in a Rule 23 order (73 Ill.2d R. 23), dismissed the minor's appeal (89 Ill. App.3d 1204), saying that it lacked jurisdiction. The court considered that the order placing J.N. on supervision was not a final judgment within the meaning of our constitution's provision granting a right of appeal only from final judgments of circuit courts> (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 6). We allowed the minor's petition for leave to appeal. 73 Ill.2d Rules 315, 612, 660.

A petition for adjudication of J.N. as a delinquent was filed in the circuit court of Kane County on March 22, 1979. The petition alleged that J.N. had committed the offense of criminal damage to property in excess of $150 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 21-1). On April 23 an amended petition, which set out a different residential address for J.N., was filed.

The court conducted an adjudicatory hearing that was concluded on July 17, 1979. After the hearing, the court entered an order continuing the matter to July 30 for disposition. The order stated: "On presentation of the evidence, the minor respondent is found guilty of criminal damage to property over $150 as per State's original petition." On July 30, the matter was again continued "for disposition."

On August 7, 1979, the court issued two orders that raise the basis for this appeal. One was entitled "Dispositional Order/Conditions of Supervision/1 yr." The form used in preparing the order contained the word "probation," in its title, but it was crossed out in ink. The order provided that, "[a]s conditions of supervision/probation," J.N. must report to a probation officer, permit the probation officer to visit him, reside with his parents, pay restitution, pay the court costs of the proceeding, and observe a curfew. The order stated that the matter was continued to August 5, 1980, "for review."

The other order which was entered on August 7, 1979, was entitled "Hearing Order." It stated that the cause was continued until August 5, 1980. The order provided that during that period the minor was to continue under supervision through "Juvenile Court Services." The order noted that the cause was being "continued for supervision/continued for review."

The appellate court held that the orders did not constitute a final judgment. Rather, the appellate court judged, the trial court had only continued the hearing on the matter pursuant to section 4-7 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, par. 704-7). That section provides:

"In the absence of objection made in open court by the minor, his parent, guardian, custodian or responsible relative, the court may, before proceeding to findings and adjudication, or after hearing the evidence but before noting in the minutes of proceeding a finding of whether or not the minor is a person described in Section 2-1 [that is a delinquent, a minor in need of supervision, or a neglected or dependent minor], continue the hearing from time to time, allowing the minor to remain in his own home subject to such conditions as to conduct and visitation and supervision by the probation officer or other designee of the court as the court may prescribe. * * *"

The appellate court concluded that the circuit court had continued the matter rather than disposed of it by placing the minor on probation. The court reasoned that the circuit court had not expressly found J.N. to be a delinquent minor and had not adjudged him a ward of the court. Moreover, the "Hearing Order" used the expression "continued under supervision," and the word "probation" had been crossed out from the title of the "Dispositional Order." Upon the appellate court's dismissal of the appeal, it assessed State's Attorney's fees against the minor in the amount of $75.

We judge that the appellate court erred in dismissing the appeal. Although the orders here purported, at least in part, to be orders of continuance, in substance and realistically they constituted a final judgment.

Except where a rule of this court provides for an interlocutory appeal, the appellate court has jurisdiction to review only final judgments. (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 6; Commonwealth Loan Co. v. Baker (1968), 40 Ill.2d 506, 508; People v. Miller (1966), 35 Ill.2d 62, 67.) Under our Rule 660(a) (73 Ill.2d R. 660(a)), appeals from final judgments in delinquency proceedings are governed by the rules applicable to criminal cases, except where specifically provided otherwise.

A judgment is final if it decides the controversy between the parties on the merits and fixes their rights, so that, if the judgment is affirmed, nothing remains for the trial court to do but to proceed with its execution. (Roddy v. Armitage-Hamlin Corp. (1948), 401 Ill. 605, 609; Anderson v. Anderson (1975), 28 Ill. App.3d 1029, 1032; Allabastro v. Wheaton National Bank (1980), 91 Ill. App.3d 222, 224.) In criminal cases, there is no final judgment without a sentence. (People v. Allen (1978), 71 Ill.2d 378, 381; People v. Warship (1974), 59 Ill.2d 125, 130.) Similarly, in proceedings under the ...

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