APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIFTH DIVISION
Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee, v.
Joseph S., Respondent-Appellant)
522 N.E.2d 625, 168 Ill. App. 3d 76, 118 Ill. Dec. 955 1988.IL.345
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James M. Walton, Judge, presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE LORENZ delivered the opinion of the court. SULLIVAN and MURRAY, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LORENZ
Joseph S. appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County terminating his parental rights relative to his three minor children, D.S., R.S., and I.S., and appointing a guardian to consent to their adoption. Joseph contends that: (1) the failure to serve his minor children with summons or notice of the proceedings deprived the circuit court of jurisdiction; (2) the finding of unfitness was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence; and (3) the evidence did not support the circuit court's determination that it was in the minors' best interest to appoint a guardian to consent to their adoption.
We find that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over this matter and therefore reverse and remand.
In January 1985 the State filed petitions seeking termination of the parental rights of Joseph S. and Madeline A. and appointment of a guardian with the right to consent to adoption. Minors-respondents D.S., I.S., and R.S., then ages 15, 14, and 12, respectively, were not served
with summons or notice of these proceedings. A Dispositional hearing on these petitions was held June 4, 1985. The minors-respondents were represented at the hearing by two guardians ad litem but the record does not establish that the minors-respondents themselves were present. Joseph was represented by an assistant public defender and testified at the hearing. Madeline, who had previously executed surrenders for adoption as to all three minors and who had been served with summons, did not appear.
At the hearing the court took judicial notice that in a prior proceeding on August 5, 1982, there had been a finding of neglect with regard to Madeline and a finding of sexual abuse by Joseph of all three minor respondents. At that prior proceeding the minors-respondents were adjudicated wards of the court.
The circuit court then heard testimony from a number of social workers, the minors-respondents' foster mother, and Joseph. At the Conclusion of the hearing the court found Joseph to be an unfit parent, based in part on his failure to make reasonable efforts to correct the conditions which were the basis for removal of the minors and his failure to make reasonable progress toward their return. The court further found that Madeline had surrendered her parental rights and that it was in the best interest of the minors that a ...