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02/02/89 In Re J.L.D.

February 2, 1989



of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee, v.

Kristie L. Douglass, Respondent-Appellant)

534 N.E.2d 190, 178 Ill. App. 3d 1025, 128 Ill. Dec. 170 1989.IL.123

Appeal from the Circuit Court of McLean County; the Hon. William T. Caisley, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE SPITZ delivered the opinion of the court. McCULLOUGH, P.J., and GREEN, J., concur.


This is an appeal by respondent Kristie L. Douglass from an order of the circuit court of McLean County finding her in contempt of court and sentencing her to serve a term of imprisonment of 63 days in the McLean County jail. On February 25, 1987, following adjudication and Dispositional hearings concerning the minor J.L.D., an order of protective supervision was entered on respondent, the minor's mother. The order had a duration of 12 months and required respondent to keep the minor enrolled in and attending school. The order further directed respondent to cooperate and ensure J.L.D.'s attendance and participation in such counseling at school as the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services deemed appropriate. The case was thereafter continued for a period of 12 months under the provisions of section 4-7 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 704-7).

On June 3, 1987, due to continuing problems with school absences, the McLean County State's Attorney's office filed a supplemental petition for adjudication of wardship. At the hearing on the supplemental petition, J.L.D. admitted its allegations, and the petition was granted. At the Dispositional hearing, J.L.D. was adjudicated a ward of the court and his guardianship was transferred to DCFS. The order, among other things, authorized DCFS to take custody of the minor and directed DCFS to monitor his school attendance. Respondent was continued under an order of protective supervision that required her to cooperate with DCFS and further required her to have J.L.D. enrolled in and attending school. While guardianship was transferred to DCFS, J.L.D. was allowed to reside with respondent.

A supplemental report filed with the court by DCFS on January 20, 1988, noted that J.L.D.'s school attendance was "still sporadic." However, respondent was improving in her "parenting techniques." The report noted that she was still having some failures and had to rely on others' assistance, and recommended no change in the guardianship status.

A review hearing was conducted on March 16, 1988. At the Conclusion of the hearing, the trial court directed DCFS to place J.L.D. in a foster home, but not in the home of a relative. The court also requested the State's Attorney to file a petition for rule to show cause against respondent. On March 21, 1988, a petition for rule to show cause why respondent should not be held in contempt of court was filed. On March 30, 1988, the trial court entered an order directing respondent to appear and answer the petition.

In the meantime, J.L.D. had run away from foster care. At the hearing on the rule to show cause held on July 27, 1988, J.L.D. testified that on his second night in foster care, he took off running from the foster mother while they were at a drug store in Bloomington. He went to another store in the area and called his mother, and asked her to pick him up. According to J.L.D., when respondent arrived at the store to pick him up, she told him that she was going to take him back to the foster home. J.L.D. testified he told his mother that if she returned him to foster care he would run away again or try to kill himself. J.L.D. and respondent stayed in Bloomington together for a few days, and then went to Texas to stay with some cousins.

On cross-examination, J.L.D. testified he did not have any prearranged plan with respondent to pick him up from foster care and, in fact, respondent wanted to return him to foster care that evening, at least for one night until she could contact DCFS. He again acknowledged he told his mother that, if returned to foster care, he would run away again or he would kill himself. Over the course of the next few days, respondent drove J.L.D. by the DCFS office in Bloomington and talked with him about returning him to DCFS. However, J.L.D. repeatedly begged her not to, and threatened that he would do harm to himself, or run away again.

Respondent testified that J.L.D.'s school attendance in the fall of 1987 was improved. However, in December, he became ill with bronchial pneumonia and began having problems with other children in his class. In January 1988, J.L.D. began to "throw fits" when it was time to go to school and he would fight and grab the steering wheel of her car. Her caseworker at DCFS, Phil Foster, checked into the availability of foster homes, and, in fact, notified her in February 1988 to bring J.L.D. to the DCFS office ...

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