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05/30/97 R.V. v. R.V.

May 30, 1997


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 95 JA 4006, 95 JA 4007, 95 JA 4008. Honorable Martin S. Agran Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication July 21, 997.

The Honorable Justice Hourihane delivered the opinion of the court. Hartman, P.j., and South, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hourihane

The Honorable Justice HOURIHANE delivered the opinion of the court:

This interlocutory appeal is brought by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) from an order of the juvenile court which directed DCFS to videotape any interviews of the minors it conducted to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in this case. We are to decide whether the circuit court had authority to enter such an order. For the reasons indicated below, we conclude that the circuit court does not possess such authority.


Keith V. is the adoptive parent of Michael, R.V. and J.V. Keith is also the biological father of M.V. Tammy V., Keith's wife, is the biological mother of M.V.

On May 30, 1995, Keith and Tammy brought J.V. to Grant Pediatric hospital. During an interview conducted on that date, J.V. told members of the hospital staff that he had sexual contact with Keith, Michael and M.V. J.V. also indicated that Keith had disciplined him by hitting him with a belt and a coat hanger. This interview was documented via the handwritten notes of the interviewer.

On June 7, 1995, the Cook County State's Attorney filed a petition in the circuit court for adjudication of the wardship of M.V., R.V. and J.V. *fn1 On the same date, the trial court granted Keith and Tammy's emergency motion to preserve all existing raw notes, videotapes and tape recordings of interviews as well as any photographs taken by DCFS and the hospital during the course of their investigation of the allegations. On June 8, 1995, the court entered an order which, inter alia, expanded the scope of this ruling to require DCFS to videotape any subsequent interviews they conducted with the children concerning their alleged sexual abuse. The judge then indicated that because he believed the case would ultimately focus on the credibility of the witnesses, the videotaping of the interviews would provide additional evidence upon which he could make a credibility determination while also guarding against suggestive or leading questioning.

On July 7, 1995, DCFS filed an emergency motion to reconsider the court's previous orders which prohibited them from interviewing the children without videotaping. DCFS argued that this requirement would frustrate their ability to investigate the matter and they indicated that they were not equipped to carry out the court's orders. The juvenile court denied DCFS's motion and indicated that the court had the authority to condition the interviews under Supreme Court Rule 201(c) (155 Ill. 2d R. 201(c)).

On July 10, 1995, DCFS filed a notice of appeal from the orders directing them to videotape the interviews. Subsequently, the underlying cases proceeded to an adjudicatory hearing and Keith and Tammy were dismissed from M.V. and R.V.'s cases with prejudice and J.V. was adjudicated a ward of the state.


At the outset, we note that appellees motion to supplement the record, which was taken with the case, is hereby granted.

On appeal, DCFS contends that the Juvenile Court acted beyond its authority when it ordered DCFS to videotape all interviews of the children which related to the allegations of sexual abuse. DCFS provides several bases in support of its claim. However, prior to addressing DCFS's claims on appeal, we must discuss the appellee's contention that this court is without authority to decide this matter.

Appellees assert that this appeal is not properly before this court for three reasons. First, appellees contend that DCFS lacks standing to bring the present appeal because they were not a party to the original action. Second, they argue that this court lacks jurisdiction to hear the present appeal because the orders of the trial court are not, as DCFS maintains, appealable under Supreme Court Rule 307(a)(1) (155 Ill. 2d R. 307(a)(1)). Finally, appellees argue that even if the orders at issue are appealable, the present appeal is moot because the circuit court made a final adjudication of the underlying issues in this case.

I. Standing

First, we shall address the issue of DCFS's standing. Even if an appellant is not a party to the underlying suit, it does not mean that they always lack standing to appeal from an order of the circuit court. In In re A Minor, 127 Ill. 2d 247, 130 Ill. Dec. 225, 537 N.E.2d 292 (1989), our supreme court dealt with this issue and stated "if anything, the appellant's status as a nonparty strengthens the need for interlocutory appellate review, since the appellant would never be subject to an appealable final judgment in the underlying *** action." In re A Minor, 127 Ill. 2d at 263. As appellees concede, a nonparty may appeal from an order of the circuit court when they have an interest which is direct, immediate and ...

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