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In Re L.a.s.

OPINION FILED APRIL 24, 1985.

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

v.

L.A.S., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. James A. Hendrian, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MCCULLOUGH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The respondent-minor, L.A.S., age 16, was found in direct criminal contempt for her failure to reappear in the courtroom after a recess during her hearing on a report of violation of probation. She was ordered to spend 30 days in the county jail. The minor appeals from the judgment of the circuit court of Macon County, arguing that her failure to reappear in the courtroom after the recess did not constitute direct criminal contempt.

On April 30, 1984, L.A.S. was adjudicated a delinquent minor and made a ward of the court for having committed retail theft. She was placed on 18 months' probation with conditions including her participation in the Unified Delinquency Intervention Services Program and performance of community service through the Probation Plus Program. On May 9, 1984, a detention warrant was issued on the basis of a report that the minor had left her home on May 6, 1984, and had not returned. The minor was detained on the warrant on May 31, 1984. A detention hearing was conducted on June 1, 1984, and the minor was ordered released to the custody of her mother pending a hearing scheduled for June 8, 1984, on the report of violation of probation connected with her leaving home.

The record reflects that the minor was next detained without a warrant on June 2, 1984, in connection with an armed robbery. A detention hearing was conducted on June 4, 1984, and the minor was ordered detained in the juvenile detention quarters pending a hearing scheduled on June 8, 1984. A second report of probation violation was filed in connection with the armed robbery. At the hearing on June 8, 1984, the minor denied the allegations of each report of violation of probation, the cause was allotted for a hearing on the reports set for July 24, 1984, and the minor was ordered released to the custody of her mother.

Later in the month of June 1984, the minor absented herself from her placement in the home of her mother without authority, and a detention warrant was issued on July 2, 1984. The minor was taken into custody on June 30, 1984, by authorities in the State of Kansas. On July 5, 1984, the detention warrant was filed, showing it had been executed, with the minor detained on July 3, 1984. A detention hearing was conducted on July 6, 1984, and the minor was ordered detained in the juvenile detention quarters pending a hearing set for July 13, 1984. At hearing on July 13, 1984, the minor's motion to be released to the custody of her mother pending a hearing on the reports of violation of probation was denied, and the minor was remanded to the custody of the sheriff pending the hearing. On July 24, 1984, the cause was continued due to the unavailability of material witnesses, and the cause allotted for hearing on August 2, 1984. The minor was released to the custody of her mother, and the conditions of the minor's probation were modified so she was not to be outside her residence unless in the company of her parent or another responsible relative.

On July 25, 1984, a petition to terminate the minor's probation was filed, stating as grounds that (1) on or about May 6, 1984, L.A.S. left home without permission until taken into custody about May 31, 1984; (2) she committed the offense of armed robbery on or about June 2, 1984; and (3) on a date after June 8, 1984, she left home without permission and was taken into custody in the State of Kansas on June 30, 1984.

On August 2, 1984, the cause was called for hearing on the probation violation report based on the armed robbery of June 2, 1984. The minor was present with her mother. L.A.S. was identified by police officer witnesses and the victim of the armed robbery. Following the testimony of these witnesses, the court stated it would take a 10-minute recess. After the recess, the judge accepted a stipulation regarding the minor's age and then questioned the assistant public defender and the minor's mother as to the minor's location. Neither knew where she was. The judge ordered a detention warrant to issue and recessed the cause until service of the warrant, concluding that he could not proceed in the minor's absence.

The record shows that the minor was detained pursuant to the latter warrant on August 12, 1984, and a detention hearing was set for August 14, 1984.

At the inception of the detention hearing, the judge stated that he was going to find the minor in direct criminal contempt of court. Respondent's counsel argued that the minor's failure to return to the courtroom on August 2 was not direct criminal contempt of court, but, at most, if wilful and proved by extrinsic facts, indirect criminal contempt, and that respondent could not be summarily punished without the opportunity to exercise her due process rights. Counsel cited People v. McNeil (1976), 42 Ill. App.3d 1036, 356 N.E.2d 1073, involving an attorney charged by petition for a rule to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for his failure to appear at the time allotted for trial in a cause in which he was the attorney of record. The circuit court rejected counsel's argument:

"In this particular case we were in the middle of the trial, and it was in the presence of the Court that she failed to appear. Obviously * * * she doesn't * * * come into court and then just leave when she feels up to it. The actions were done subsequent to the trial starting. Her conduct was done in effect in the presence of the Court, and it is direct criminal contempt of court, and I am going to so hold.

Show first of all, On August 2, 1984, at the conclusion of the Petitioner's case and prior to the commencement of the Respondent minor's case, the minor wilfully absented herself from the courtroom, Court House and was later detained pursuant to warrant issued. It is the further finding of the Court that such conduct was calculated to, and in fact did embarrass, hinder and obstruct the Court in its administration of justice and did derogate from its authority and dignity and did bring the administration of justice into disrepute."

• 1 Criminal contempt of court is generally defined as conduct which is calculated to embarrass, hinder, or obstruct a court in its administration of justice or derogate from its authority or dignity, thereby bringing the administration of law into disrepute. People v. Javaras (1972), 51 Ill.2d 296, 281 N.E.2d 670.

• 2, 3 A direct criminal contempt is one which takes place in the very presence of the judge, making all of the elements of the offense matters within the personal knowledge of the judge, and tending directly to obstruct and prevent the administration of justice. (People v. Howarth (1953), 415 Ill. 499, 114 N.E.2d 785.) Where a direct contempt is committed in open court, it is competent for the judge to proceed upon his personal knowledge of the facts and to punish the offender summarily without entering any rule against him and without hearing any evidence. (In re Estate of Kelly (1936), 365 Ill. 174, 6 N.E.2d 113.) The Illinois Supreme Court noted in People v. Loughran (1954), 2 Ill.2d 258, 263, 118 N.E.2d 310, 313:

"In a direct criminal contempt proceeding, that is, for contempts committed in the presence of the judge, in court, which he observes and has personal knowledge of, no formal charge is ...


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