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In Re D.t.





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Vincent Bentivenga, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, D.T., a minor, was charged by indictment with two counts of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1) for the death of Andre Ike. Pursuant to section 2-7(6)(a) of the Juvenile Court Act (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 37, par. 702-7(6)(a)), defendant was prosecuted as an adult in a criminal proceeding. Following a bench trial, defendant was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 9-3) and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) the State's wrongful procurement of a murder indictment and the trial court's subsequent affirmance of the indictment stripped him of his juvenile protections in violation of his due process rights; (2) section 2-7(6)(c) of the Act violates the constitutionally protected guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws; (3) section 2-7(6)(c) of the Act violates the due process clause of the Illinois Constitution; and (4) the trial court erred in not applying the pre-adjudication transfer standards of section 2-7(3)(a) of the Act in determining whether to sentence defendant as a juvenile or as an adult. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The following facts are undisputed by the parties. Approximately 11 p.m. on July 19, 1983, defendant and several of his friends were playing basketball and drinking beer near a friend's home in Chicago when Jimmy Williams, a member of the group, slapped defendant in the face. There is some dispute as to whether the slap was provoked by defendant. Immediately after Williams slapped defendant, Andre Ike joined the group and started to argue with defendant. Defendant hit Ike in the jaw with his fist, causing Ike to fall backward and to hit his head on the pavement. Defendant then fled the scene. Ike was taken to the hospital where he remained in a coma for approximately six days and then died from head injuries.

Defendant was apprehended prior to Ike's death, and charged in a juvenile petition with aggravated battery. When Ike died several days later, the State went before the grand jury to seek a murder indictment, which it obtained following a hearing.

Prior to trial, defendant moved to dismiss the indictment based upon prosecutorial misconduct during the grand jury proceeding. Specifically, defendant alleged that the State wrongfully referred to defendant's juvenile court background and misinformed the jurors as to the elements of murder. The court denied defendant's motion on the ground that there was no evidence of substantial prejudice to defendant at the grand jury proceeding.

Following testimony at trial, the court found that the facts did not support a charge for murder and found defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Defendant then moved for disposition of the sentence under the Act rather than under the Illinois Criminal Code. The court denied the motion on the ground that there was a possibility that defendant could serve a longer term if incarcerated under the Act. Defendant's subsequent motion for a new trial was also denied, and he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, with credit given for the 10 months during which he had been in custody pending trial. Defendant's timely appeal followed.

Defendant first contends that the State wrongfully procured a murder indictment against him by disclosing evidence of other juvenile crimes to the grand jury and by misinforming the grand jury as to the legal standards for murder.

At the grand jury proceeding, Detective Edward Kevin of the Chicago police department testified as to the events surrounding the incident, including the facts that Ike had been unarmed when struck and knocked to the ground by defendant and that defendant had a "very muscular upper body." During the proceeding, the grand jury foreman queried the State as to why it was seeking a murder indictment when defendant had struck Ike with his hands. In response, the State explained:

"His acts, which were the cause of death of this man, were such as could reasonably be expected to cause death or great bodily harm to the victim. * * * I believe the evidence will show that [Ike] was standing there literally doing nothing, and he was more or less sucker-punched and fell to the ground, struck his head and that blow was what caused his death, and that could reasonably be anticipated to cause death or great bodily harm."

The State then continued to question Detective Kevin, asking him whether the police had checked into defendant's background. Specifically, the State referred to the fact that defendant had previously been sentenced by juvenile court to St. Charles for armed robbery and murder. Detective Kevin acknowledged that that was true. Following one additional question by the jury regarding the physical descriptions of the deceased and defendant, the jurors left to deliberate and returned with a true bill for two counts of murder.

Initially, defendant argues that the State's reference to his juvenile record breached the confidentiality provisions of section 2-10 of the Act, which enumerates the proceedings in which juvenile court records are admissible. Although grand jury proceedings are not specifically mentioned in section 2-10, we do not find that the trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment because of the State's reference to defendant's juvenile record.

• 1-3 It is well established that grand jury proceedings are generally unrestrained by the technical, procedural, and evidentiary rules which govern the conduct of criminal trials. (United States v. Calandra (1974), 414 U.S. 338, 343, 38 L.Ed.2d 561, 568-69, 94 S.Ct. 613, 617.) The rationale behind the broad scope given to the grand jury is that the indictment is a formal charge, not a trial on the merits. Thus, the proceedings do not require the degree and quality of proof necessary for a conviction. (Costello v. United States (1956), 350 U.S. 359, 100 L.Ed. 397, 76 S.Ct. 406; People v. Bragg (1984), 126 Ill. App.3d 826, 831, 467 N.E.2d 1004.) In addition, the validity of an indictment is not affected by the character of the evidence considered. As long as there is some evidence in support of the charges (People v. Rogers (1982), 92 Ill.2d 283, 442 N.E.2d 240), and the indictment is valid on its face, it is not subject to challenge on the ground that the grand jury acted on the basis of inadequate or incompetent evidence. (United States v. Calandra (1974), 414 U.S. 338, 344-45, 38 L.Ed.2d 561, 569, 94 S.Ct. 613, 618; People v. Creque (1978), 72 Ill.2d 515, 382 N.E.2d 793; People v. Rivera (1979), 72 Ill. App.3d 1027, 390 N.E.2d 1259.) Moreover, the court will not dismiss a charge based upon allegations of prosecutorial misconduct unless that conduct results in actual and substantial prejudice to defendant. People v. Barton (1984), 122 Ill. App.3d 1079, 462 N.E.2d 538.

• 4 In the present case, defendant has neither alleged that the indictment is invalid on its face nor that all of the evidence introduced before the grand jury was inadequate. In fact, the testimony of Detective Kevin, the sole witness at the proceeding, was undisputed by defendant and, apparently, was found sufficient by the grand jury to support an indictment for murder. For these reasons, the court is precluded from inquiring into the competency or adequacy of the evidence as a whole. We further note that our supreme court has held that the protective confidentiality provisions of the Act do not amount to an absolute prohibition against disclosure of juvenile records. People v. Norwood (1973), 54 Ill.2d 253, 296 N.E.2d 852.

• 5 Defendant further argues that the State wrongfully obtained its indictment by misinforming the grand jury as to the legal standards for murder. We disagree. Section 9-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. ...

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