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People v. A.G.

March 22, 2001

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



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Thomas

Docket No. 89320-Agenda 7-January 2001.

Pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (the Juvenile Court Act) (705 ILCS 405/5-101 et seq. (West 1998)), the State filed an amended delinquency petition against the respondent, A.G., in the circuit court of Rock Island County alleging five separate offenses. The respondent entered an admission to two of the counts in exchange for the State's agreement to dismiss the three remaining counts. After hearing a factual basis for the admission, the trial court adjudicated the respondent a delinquent minor and entered a dispositional order. Thereafter, the respondent's counsel filed a motion to reconsider the disposition, but did not file a certificate of compliance as contemplated by Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (145 Ill. 2d R. 604(d)). The trial court denied the respondent's motion to reconsider, and the respondent appealed that decision to the appellate court. On appeal, the appellate court did not reach the merits of the appeal, but instead remanded the cause to the trial court for strict compliance with Rule 604(d). No. 3-99-0515 (unpublished order). The State now appeals from that ruling, presenting the question of whether compliance with Rule 604(d) is required in cases involving delinquency appeals.

BACKGROUND

On February 2, 1999, the State filed a delinquency petition against the 16-year-old respondent, charging him with two counts of residential burglary (720 ILCS 5/19-3 (West 1998)), one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 1998)), and one count of theft (720 ILCS 5/16-1(a)(1)(A) (West 1998)). On February 16, 1999, the State amended the petition to include one count of unlawful possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4(a) (West 1998)). That same day, the respondent entered an admission to one count of residential burglary and one count of unlawful possession of cannabis. In exchange for his admission, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining three counts. Prior to accepting the admission, the trial court admonished the respondent of the potential minimum and maximum disposition for each count to which he admitted. The trial court also informed the respondent that by entering an admission he would forfeit his rights to a trial, to testify, and to confront the witnesses against him. The trial court then found that the respondent's admission was made knowingly and voluntarily. After receiving a factual basis for the admission, the trial court found the respondent to be a delinquent minor. Following a dispositional hearing on March 12, 1999, the respondent was ordered committed to the Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division, until he reaches the age of 21.

On April 9, 1999, the respondent's counsel filed a motion in the circuit court to reconsider the disposition but did not file a certificate pursuant to Rule 604(d). The trial court denied the respondent's motion to reconsider, and the respondent then filed a timely notice of appeal. On appeal to the appellate court, the respondent filed a motion noting his counsel's failure to file a Rule 604(d) certificate and requesting that the cause be remanded to the circuit court for proceedings consistent with Rule 604(d). The State argued that the respondent's appeal should be dismissed because he filed a motion to reconsider the disposition and not a motion to withdraw his admission as required by Rule 604(d). In the alternative, the State argued that the court should deny the respondent's motion to remand because the question of whether the requirements of Rule 604(d) are applicable to juvenile proceedings is unresolved. The appellate court allowed the respondent's motion to remand the cause for compliance with Rule 604(d).

The State sought leave to appeal to this court, and we granted its petition. While the State's petition for leave to appeal was pending, this court decided People v. Lumzy, which held that when no agreement exists between the parties as to a defendant's sentence, the defendant can seek reconsideration of his sentence by filing a motion to reconsider the sentence without moving to withdraw his guilty plea. People v. Lumzy, 191 Ill. 2d 182, 186-87 (2000). In the aftermath of the Lumzy decision, this court has amended Rule 604(d) to more precisely define the term "negotiated plea" for purposes of the rule. Official Reports Advance Sheet No. 23 (November 15, 2000), R. 604(d), eff. November 1, 2000. As a result of the Lumzy decision, the State now concedes that the respondent's appeal should not have been dismissed for failure to file a motion to vacate the disposition. Instead, the State argues that the appellate court's decision remanding the cause to allow compliance with the certificate requirements of Rule 604(d) should be reversed. The State contends that Rule 604(d) should not be applied to juvenile proceedings.

ANALYSIS

Supreme Court Rule 604(d) addresses guilty pleas, which are equivalent to admissions in juvenile court. The version of the rule in effect at the time of respondent's admission provided in relevant part that a defendant cannot appeal a judgment entered upon a plea of guilty that was not negotiated unless he files a motion to reconsider the sentence within 30 days of the judgment, if only the sentence is being challenged, or, if the plea is being challenged, a motion to withdraw the plea of guilty and vacate the judgment. 145 Ill. 2d R. 604(d). The rule further provides that "[t]he defendant's attorney shall file with the trial court a certificate stating that the attorney has consulted with the defendant either by mail or in person to ascertain his contentions of error in the sentence or the entry of the plea of guilty, has examined the trial court file and report of proceedings of the plea of guilty, and has made any amendments to the motion necessary for adequate presentation of any defects in those proceedings." 145 Ill. 2d R. 604(d).

Supreme Court Rule 660(a) provides that "[a]ppeals from final judgments in delinquent minor proceedings, except as otherwise specifically provided, shall be governed by the rules applicable to criminal cases." 134 Ill. 2d R. 660(a). The State acknowledges that the phrase "rules applicable to criminal cases" has been construed as referring to the supreme court rules, and in particular Rule 615(a) and Rule 604(d). In re W.C., 167 Ill. 2d 307, 322 (1995). Nonetheless, the State argues that there is some confusion as to which supreme court rules are applicable to delinquency proceedings. Citing In re Beasley, 66 Ill. 2d 385 (1977), the State notes that the court in that case found that Rule 402 was not intended to apply to juvenile cases. The State claims that the confusion is augmented by language in People v. Wilk, 124 Ill. 2d 93, 103 (1988), stating that Rules 402, 604(d) and 605(b) are "meant to mesh together." Finally, the State asserts that the purpose of Rule 604(d) will not be served in the delinquency context because the rule does not provide any due process protections.

We initially note that the Juvenile Court Act has been significantly amended since this court's decision in In re Beasley. Although proceedings under the Act are still not criminal in nature and are to be administered in a spirit of humane concern for, and to promote the welfare of, the minor (In re Beasley, 66 Ill. 2d at 389), article V of the Act has been reconfigured and now contains a purpose and policy section which represents a fundamental shift from the singular goal of rehabilitation to include the overriding concerns of protecting the public and holding juvenile offenders accountable for violations of the law. 705 ILCS 405/5-101 (West 1998); In re G.O., 191 Ill. 2d 37, 61 (2000) (Heiple, J., dissenting). The General Assembly has now specifically set forth the purpose and policy of the Juvenile Court Act as it relates to delinquent minors as follows:

"It is the intent of the General Assembly to promote a juvenile justice system capable of dealing with the problem of juvenile delinquency, a system that will protect the community, impose accountability for violations of law and equip juvenile offenders with compentencies to live responsibly and productively. To effectuate this intent, the General Assembly declares the following to be important purposes of this Article:

(a) To protect citizens from juvenile crime.

(b) To hold each juvenile offender directly accountable for his or her acts.

(c) To provide an individualized assessment of each alleged and adjudicated delinquent juvenile, in order to rehabilitate and to prevent further delinquent behavior through the ...


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