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10/19/95 W.C. v. W.C.

October 19, 1995

IN RE W.C., A MINOR (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,
v.
W.C., APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Lynne Kawamoto, Judge, presiding.

The Honorable Justice Freeman delivered the opinion of the court:

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Freeman

JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 37, par. 801-1 et seq.), the State filed a delinquency petition in the circuit court of Cook County, alleging respondent, W.C., accountable (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, par. 5-2(c)) for the first degree murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), (a)(2)) of Carey Long. Following an adjudicatory hearing, the circuit court found the allegations proven beyond a reasonable doubt and determined W.C. to be a delinquent minor. The circuit court found also that the murder allegations, stated in the form of two counts, merged together for the single determination of delinquency. At a subsequent dispositional hearing, the circuit court adjudged W.C. a ward of the court and committed him to the juvenile division of the Illinois Department of Corrections for an indeterminate period. W.C. appealed.

The appellate court held, inter alia, that: (1) W.C. waived a claimed violation of his right to remain silent and to counsel by failing to include the claim in a written "post-trial" motion and that, even so, the claimed violation did not rise to the level of plain error; (2) the allegations supporting the delinquency adjudication were proven beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) no error occurred in adjudicating W.C. delinquent based on two counts alleging first degree murder, despite that only one person had been killed. (261 Ill. App. 3d 508.) We granted W.C.'s petition for leave to appeal. (145 Ill. 2d R. 315.) Based on the following considerations, we now affirm the circuit court's judgment of W.C. as a delinquent minor and a ward of the court.

ISSUES

We are asked to decide: (1) whether a claimed constitutional violation raised in a delinquency adjudication was waived on appeal for the failure to also make such claim in a written post-adjudication motion; (2) whether respondent's waiver of the right to remain silent and to counsel was knowing and intelligent such that his statement to police was properly admitted into evidence; (3) whether respondent was found delinquent based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt; and (4) whether error occurred by finding that respondent was delinquent and committing him to the Department of Corrections based on two offenses of first degree murder where only one person was killed.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On May 28, 1992, Carey L. Long, "Skip," aged 29 years and a drug abuser, was fatally shot in the face and back by Othenio Lucas, "Pooh-Pooh," aged 17 years, a reputed drug dealer. Shortly after the shooting, Long's six-foot, one-inch, 180-pound body was found lying by police in the rear courtyard area of an apartment building. On May 29, 1992, police interviewed John Crafton pursuant to their investigation of Long's death. As a result of the interview, police learned that W.C. had been present at the scene of the shooting and in the company of William Hodges, "Juan," aged 14 years. W.C. was then 13 years old, five feet, two inches tall and weighed 90 to 100 pounds. Based on the information obtained from Crafton, police went to W.C.'s home and requested that his mother bring him to the police station.

W.C. and his mother, accompanied by two police officers with whom the mother was familiar, arrived at the police station at around 6 p.m. W.C. was taken into temporary custody by officers at the station, and he and his mother were taken to an interview room. Once there, Detectives Cliff Gehrke and Joseph Fine read Miranda warnings to W.C. directly from their police manual. According to the officers, W.C. indicated to them that he understood his rights by responding "I understand" to each Miranda query. W.C. agreed to talk and gave an oral statement in the presence of his mother, the detectives and police youth officer Deanna Hall. Although W.C. initially began to relate a false version of events, his mother soon directed him to tell the truth, and W.C. related an apparently truthful version. Gehrke took notes. At some point, Fine left the interview room to contact an assistant State's Attorney. At another point, W.C. and his mother had an opportunity to privately talk when both officers left the room.

After a brief period, Assistant State's Attorney Diane Sheridan entered the interview room and repeated Miranda warnings to W.C. According to the State, Sheridan explained the warnings to W.C. and he indicated that he understood them. As Sheridan took notes, W.C. repeated his prior oral statement. Sheridan then left the room briefly to reduce her notes to a formal written statement. She subsequently returned to the room and read the written statement aloud to W.C. and his mother because W.C.'s mother was upset and neither she nor W.C. possessed the ability to read the document. All persons present, W.C., his mother, Sheridan, Fine and Hall signed all three pages of the document, which stated in pertinent part:

"After being advised of his constitutional rights, and stating he understood each of those rights, and after being advised that he did not have to talk to [Sheridan] and also understanding that Diane Sheridan was an Assistant State's Attorney, a lawyer and prosecutor and not his lawyer, [W.C.] agreed to give a truthful account of what happened on May 28, 1992.

[W.C.] states that he is 13 years old and goes to Libby School. [W.C.] states that he can understand English but cannot read very well. [W.C.] agrees to have his mother *** read him his statement so he can understand it. ***

[W.C.] states that his nickname is Bey. [W.C.] states on May 28, 1992 at around 8:00 at night, he was at 5447 S. Indiana Chicago. [W.C.] states that Pooh-Pooh, also known as, Othenio Lucas had hidden his drugs at an abandoned building. [W.C.] states that a man, Skip had gone into the building and took Pooh-Pooh's drugs. [W.C.] states that Pooh-Pooh had a gun also in the building and Pooh-Pooh went to get the gun when he found out the man, Skip had taken his drugs. [W.C.] states that Pooh-Pooh said he was going to kill the man for taking his drugs. [W.C.] states he was with Juan Hodges and they each picked up a stick and hit the man who took the drugs. [W.C.] states he hit the man in the arm and Juan hit the man in the head but the stick broke. [W.C.] states that Pooh-Pooh came out of the building with the gun and shot the man. [W.C.] states he heard the gun go off four times. [W.C.] states that he and Juan and Pooh-Pooh all ran away.

*** [W.C.] understands that he can add anything or change anything by asking Diane Sheridan or his mother *** to do so now. [W.C.] states that there were two other people with Skip. [W.C.] states that Pooh-Pooh shot four times at Skip while Skip was running away. [W.C.] states that Pooh-Pooh then fired some shots at the other two people."

The questioning concluded around 7:40 p.m. W.C. was detained, pending a determination of delinquency based on two counts of first degree murder by accountability.

The circuit court conducted a section 5-4 transfer hearing to decide whether W.C. would be criminally prosecuted as an adult. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 37, par. 805-4.) Officer Hall testified that although she remembered reading in the written statement that W.C. had said he knew Lucas was going to get a gun to kill Long, she did not remember hearing him say that during the interrogation. W.C.'s written statement was offered to and received by the court without objection. See People v. Taylor (1979), 76 Ill. 2d 289, 302-03, 29 Ill. Dec. 103, 391 N.E.2d 366 (transfer hearing proceedings not adjudicatory in nature).

The social investigation report indicated that W.C. had received three station adjustments and that three charges once brought against him had been dropped with leave to reinstate. W.C.'s school records indicated that he was in sixth grade, had received failing grades throughout his entire education and never been evaluated for special educational services. Dr. Diane Stone, a Chicago board of education school psychologist, testified at the transfer hearing that W.C. was illiterate and moderately mentally retarded with an IQ of 48, which Stone stated was the equivalent developmentally of a six- to eight-year-old. A psychological examination summary, prepared by a court psychologist, also described W.C. as being moderately mentally retarded, stuttering, and possessing the emotional maturity of a six- to seven-year-old.

W.C.'s mother testified, confirming that she was a poor reader. When asked why she had signed the written statement, W.C.'s mother replied, " had signed it because the State had told me and my son to sign this paper because these are the words my son have said, and me and my son signed it." Among other matters, W.C.'s mother did not remember hearing him state that Lucas told him he was going to get a gun and kill Long.

The circuit court subsequently found that in the best interests of the minor and the security of the public W.C. should not be transferred to the criminal division for trial. The court denied the State's petition for transfer.

The adjudication phase commenced in the juvenile division. W.C.'s counsel filed a motion to suppress his statement on the basis that he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his rights to remain silent and have an attorney present.

Evidence presented by respondent at the transfer hearing was introduced by stipulation. In addition, Dr. Stone testified as W.C.'s expert in determining the cognitive developmental and language skills levels of children and adolescents. Based on psychological, achievement and language skills tests she administered to W.C., it was Stone's opinion that he was unable at the time of his arrest to understand Miranda warnings. Two police officers, who had arrested W.C. on two previous occasions, also testified that they had read W.C. Miranda warnings on those occasions, and that he had indicated that he understood the warnings, in one instance even refraining from asking or answering further questions. Sheridan testified that she gave W.C. an explanation ofthe Miranda warnings before questioning him and that he indicated that he understood them. Officer Fine confirmed Sheridan's testimony. W.C. testified by responding in few words, by not remembering and with inconsistency. The circuit court denied the motion to suppress W.C.'s statement.

At the adjudicatory hearing, the State's evidence consisted of the testimony of an investigating police officer concerning his observations of Long's body at the crime scene, the stipulated testimony of the medical examiner as to the cause of death, the medical examiner's report and W.C.'s written statement. Other than W.C.'s written statement, there was no incriminatory evidence. W.C. did not testify and presented no evidence. The circuit court found that the State's evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt that W.C. was accountable for the first degree murder of Long. The circuit court, accordingly, determined W.C. to be delinquent "as to the charge of murder *** under both counts" and stated that the counts merged for one finding of delinquency.

The social investigation report was supplemented for the dispositional determination. In the report, the Juvenile Detention Center confirmed that W.C. was a nonreader, functioned academically at the second-grade level, had a very small sight vocabulary and a comprehension level between second and third grade. W.C. was also reported as being unable to tell time because he could not remember the difference between the hour and minutes. W.C. was adjudicated a ward of the court.

After considering recommendations that W.C. be placed on probation in either a therapeutic day center or a residential treatment center, the circuit court ordered W.C. transferred to the custody of the Department of Corrections. The dispositional order indicated that commitment was based on two offenses of first degree murder. Respondent's counsel filed no written post-adjudicatory motion and simply appealed.

ANALYSIS

I

Waiver of Juvenile's Miranda Claim for Failure

to File Written Post-Adjudicatory Motion

On appeal, respondent claimed a due process violation of his right to remain silent and right to the presence of counsel. The appellate court held that waiver applies to appeals from delinquency findings and that respondent waived the claim by failing to include it in a written "post-trial" motion. 261 Ill. App. 3d at 511-12.

In ruling, the appellate court was persuaded by two decisions from the Fourth District. (See In re T.L.B. (1989), 184 Ill. App. 3d 213, 219, 132 Ill. Dec. 534, 539 N.E.2d 1340 (approving application of waiver principles to delinquency proceedings for failure to raise issue in circuit court); I n re F.L.W . (1979), 73 Ill. App. 3d 355, 358 (finding waiver where issue not raised in circuit court and in motion for reconsideration).) The appellate court cited, by way of contrast, two First District decisions. (See In re C.L. (1989), 180 Ill. App. 3d 173, 176-77, 128 Ill. Dec. 725, 534 N.E.2d 1330 (holding post-trial motion, delineated in section 116-1(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, not applicable to delinquency proceedings and unnecessary to preserve issue for review); In re W.D. (1990), 194 Ill. App. 3d 686, 700, 141 Ill. Dec. 364, 551 N.E.2d 357 (same).) The appellate court interpreted these latter two decisions as holding that waiver is inapplicable to appeals from delinquency proceedings. The appellate court expressed disagreement with this rationale. 261 Ill. App. 3d at 512.

Respondent contends that the appellate court should not have fashioned a new rule, but should have adhered to the prevailing practice within the First District of permitting review of claimed errors raised in circuit court delinquency proceedings, though not included in written post-adjudication motions. Respondent asserts that the issue is not, as contended by the State, whether waiver, in general, is applicable to delinquency proceedings. Rather, the issue is whether there is basis in law for requiring a written post-adjudication motion in order to preserve claimed errors raised in delinquency adjudications.

Respondent asserts that neither Supreme Court Rule 660(a) (134 Ill. 2d R. 660(a)), pertaining to appeals under the Juvenile Court Act (Act), nor the Act incorporates the requirement of a section 116-1(b) written post-trial motion (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, par. 116-1(b)) within delinquency appellate or post-adjudication procedures. (See In re C.L., 180 Ill. App. 3d 173, 128 Ill. Dec. 725, 534 N.E.2d 1330; In re W.D., 194 Ill. App. 3d 686, 141 Ill. Dec. 364, 551 N.E.2d 357.) That the State can point to no decisions squarely holding that a post-adjudication motion is required to preserve error in delinquency proceedings speaks to the absence of a legal basis for the State's argument. Respondent further asserts that the appellate court compounded the error in fashioning the new rule by retroactively applying it to him. Such retroactive application, he contends, would be violative of his constitutional right to due process.

The State argues that waiver, as applied within the adult criminal appeals process, applies to juvenile delinquency appeals. (See People v. Enoch (1988), 122 Ill. 2d 176, 186, 119 Ill. Dec. 265, 522 N.E.2d 1124 (claim of error must be raised initially in trial court and in written post-trial motion).) The State relies on authority finding waiver based on a failure to initially raise an issue in the circuit court. (See In re J.P.J. (1985), 109 Ill. 2d 129, 139-40, 92 Ill. Dec. 802, 485 N.E.2d 848 (jurisdictional issue waived where not raised in the circuit court); In re T.L.B., 184 Ill. App. 3d 213, 132 Ill. Dec. 534, 539 N.E.2d 1340; In re F.L.W., 73 Ill. App. 3d 355.) The State also relies on In re J.G. (1989), 182 Ill. App. 3d 234, 130 Ill. Dec. 891, 537 N.E.2d 1360, which approved waiver of an appeal for failure to file a motion to withdraw an admission in compliance with Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (134 Ill. 2d R. 604(d)). The State additionally contends that the rationale supporting In re W.D. and In re C.L., relied on by respondent, is now obsolete.

There is no question that claimed errors in delinquency proceedings are often waived on appeal for the failure to preserve those claims by first raising them in the circuit court. (See In re J.P.J. (1985), 109 Ill. 2d 129, 136-37, 92 Ill. Dec. 802, 485 N.E.2d 848 (finding waiver for failure to raise issue in circuit court); In re Greene (1979), 76 Ill. 2d 204, 28 Ill. Dec. 525, 390 N.E.2d 884 (issue not raised at circuit court level is considered waived); In re Tingle (1977), 52 Ill. App. 3d 251, 257, 9 Ill. Dec. 853, 367 N.E.2d 287 (same).) Waiver principles are generally applied in minor delinquency proceedings as well as in adult criminal proceedings for failure to initially raise an issue at the circuit court level. (See in re T.L.B., 184 Ill. App. 3d at 219.) The specific question here, however, is whether a written post-adjudicatory motion is additionally required to preserve a claimed error in delinquency proceedings under the Act.

The overriding purpose of the Juvenile Court Act is to ensure that the best interests of the minor, the minor's family, and the community are served. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 37, par. 801-2; In re J.J. (1991), 142 Ill. 2d 1, 8, 153 Ill. Dec. 239, 566 N.E.2d 1345.) Proceedings under the Act are not criminal. (See In re Beasley (1977), 66 Ill. 2d 385, 389, 6 Ill. Dec. 202, 362 N.E.2d 1024.) Although a delinquency proceeding retains certain adversarial aspects, it is not in the usual sense an adversarial proceeding, but one to be administered in a spirit of humane concern for and to promote the welfare of the minor. (See In re Beasley, 66 Ill. 2d at 389.) Delinquency proceedings are therefore protective in nature and the purpose of the Act is to correct and ...


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