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In re William M.

June 19, 2003

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



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Thomas

Docket No. 93760-Agenda 5-March 2003.

At issue in this case is the issue left open in In re A.G., 195 Ill. 2d 313 (2001): whether a postadmission motion pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (188 Ill. 2d R. 604(d)) is a jurisdictional prerequisite to taking a delinquency appeal. For the following reasons, we hold that it is not.

BACKGROUND

The State filed a four-count delinquency petition against respondent, William M., in the circuit court of Kankakee County charging him with burglary and criminal trespass to two automobiles. On October 2, 2000, respondent appeared in court with his appointed counsel. Respondent's counsel informed the court that pursuant to a plea agreement, respondent would admit to the burglary allegations in exchange for the dismissal of the criminal trespass charges, as well as the dismissal of an unrelated domestic battery charge. The trial court admonished respondent that an admission waived his right to remain silent, to require the State to prove the charges, to a hearing, to present evidence and witnesses, and to cross-examine the State's witnesses. The trial court also informed respondent that the burglary charges would have been Class 2 felonies if he had been charged as an adult. Respondent acknowledged that he had not been coerced and was acting voluntarily. The trial court entered a finding of delinquency and adjudicated respondent a ward of the court.

On November 15, 2000, a dispositional hearing was held. Respondent was committed to the Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division, for an indeterminate period. The trial court advised respondent of his right to appeal and further advised respondent that if he planned to appeal, he had to file a motion to withdraw his plea or a motion to reconsider his sentence within 30 days. At the conclusion of the dispositional hearing, respondent's counsel requested the filing of a notice of appeal and the appointment of the appellate defender. The trial court granted both requests. The clerk of the court filed the notice of appeal on November 27, 2000. Respondent's counsel, however, did not file a motion to withdraw respondent's guilty plea or a motion to reconsider his sentence.

On appeal, respondent argued that the adjudication of delinquency must be vacated because the record failed to show that he was aware of the consequences of his admissions or that he was informed of the potential dispositions he could receive if he was adjudicated a delinquent minor. 328 Ill. App. 3d 974, 976. Respondent acknowledged, however, that he had failed to file a postadmission or post-disposition motion pursuant to Rule 604(d) prior to filing his notice of appeal. 328 Ill. App. 3d at 976. The State argued that the appellate court was required to dismiss respondent's appeal. 328 Ill. App. 3d at 976. The State claimed that because respondent had failed to file a motion pursuant to Rule 604(d), the appellate court was without jurisdiction to consider respondent's appeal. 328 Ill. App. 3d at 976.

Citing People v. McKay, 282 Ill. App. 3d 108 (1996), the appellate court held that a Rule 604(d) motion is not jurisdictional in the same sense that a notice of appeal is jurisdictional. 328 Ill. App. 3d at 976-77. The appellate court stated that the failure to file a Rule 604(d) motion raises questions of waiver as opposed to questions of jurisdiction. 328 Ill. App. 3d at 977. Consequently, the appellate court characterized the issue before it as whether it should consider respondent's appeal, rather than whether it could consider the appeal. 328 Ill. App. 3d at 977. The appellate court noted that if the case were a criminal case, the proper procedure would be to dismiss the case and allow respondent to pursue his remedy under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2000)). 328 Ill. App. 3d at 977. However, because the Post-Conviction Hearing Act does not apply to juvenile proceedings, dismissal of respondent's appeal would foreclose all review of respondent's claims, including a claim with constitutional implications and a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. 328 Ill. App. 3d at 977. Consequently, the appellate court held that respondent's failure to file a post-disposition motion in accordance with Rule 604(d) did not require dismissal of his appeal. 328 Ill. App. 3d at 977. The appellate court, however, did not consider the merits of respondent's appeal, but instead remanded the cause to the trial court for further proceedings in compliance with Rule 604(d). 328 Ill. App. 3d at 978. This court then granted the State's petition for leave to appeal. 177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a).

ANALYSIS

This court recently held that Rule 604(d) applies to juvenile proceedings. In re A.G., 195 Ill. 2d 313, 322 (2001). Because the minor in that case had filed a postadmission motion, however, this court left open the issue of whether the filing of such a motion is a jurisdictional prerequisite to taking a delinquency appeal. In re A.G., 195 Ill. 2d at 322.

In the context of adult defendants, this court has stated that a Rule 604(d) motion is a condition precedent to an appeal from a guilty plea. People v. Wilk, 124 Ill. 2d 93, 107 (1988). Consequently, this court held in Wilk that the appellate court properly dismissed the appeals of those defendants who had not filed motions to withdraw their guilty pleas in accordance with Rule 604(d) prior to filing the appeals. Wilk, 124 Ill. 2d at 105-06. This court recognized that a defendant is denied the effective assistance of counsel, appellate review, and other potential constitutional issues when his attorney fails to adhere to Rule 604(d) despite hearing the admonishments required by Supreme Court Rule 605(b) (188 Ill. 2d R. 605(b)). We noted, however, that the dismissal of the defendants' appeals did not leave those defendants without a remedy, because relief was available to those defendants pursuant to the Post-Conviction Hearing Act. Wilk, 124 Ill. 2d at 107.

At issue in this case is the interpretation of the "condition precedent" language in Wilk. The State interprets the "condition precedent" language in Wilk as establishing that the failure to file a Rule 604(d) motion deprives the appellate court of jurisdiction over an appeal. The State further argues that because Rule 604(d) has been held to apply in the juvenile context, its jurisdictional component must also apply. In support of its argument that Rule 604(d) is jurisdictional, the State cites In re A.W., 185 Ill. App. 3d 473 (1989).

In In re A.W., the appellate court relied on Wilk in holding that a juvenile's failure to file a motion to withdraw his admission of juvenile delinquency prior to filing his notice of appeal required dismissal of the appeal. In re A.W., 185 Ill. App. 3d at 474. The appellate court rejected the juvenile's attempt to distinguish Wilk on the ground that a defendant in a criminal case has the right to a hearing under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act, while a juvenile has no corresponding right. In re A.W., 185 Ill. App. 3d at 475. The appellate court acknowledged that there was language in Wilk indicating that the holding in that case would not leave defendants without a remedy. In re A.W., 185 Ill. App. 3d at 475. The court concluded, however, that the language was not central to the court's holding and dismissed the juvenile's appeal. In re A.W., 185 Ill. App. 3d at 475.

In contrast, respondent argues in favor of the appellate court's interpretation of the "condition precedent" language in Wilk. As noted, the appellate court in this case relied upon People v. McKay, 282 Ill. App. 3d 108 (1996), in holding that a juvenile's failure to file a Rule 604(d) motion does not require dismissal of his appeal. The McKay court held that Wilk and its progeny do not withdraw jurisdiction from the appellate court, but instead withdraw the decision whether waiver should bar the appeal of a defendant who has not filed a Rule 604(d) motion. McKay, 282 Ill. App. 3d at 111. In following McKay, the appellate court in this case acknowledged that its decision was in direct conflict with In re A.W., 185 Ill. App. 3d 473 (1989), but nonetheless held that respondent's failure to comply with Rule 604(d) did not require dismissal of his appeal. 328 Ill. App. 3d at 977.

Upon review, we find that the court in McKay was correct in its determination that Wilk and its progeny do not stand for the proposition that the filing of a Rule 604(d) motion is required to vest the appellate court with jurisdiction. In arguing that Rule 604(d) is a jurisdictional prerequisite to filing a notice of appeal, the State points to language from of decision of this court subsequent to Wilk. Specifically, the State notes that in People v. Foster, 171 Ill. 2d 469 (1996), this court stated that when a defendant fails to file a motion pursuant to Rule 604(d), "the appellate court must dismiss the appeal, leaving the Post-Conviction Hearing Act as a defendant's only recourse." (Emphasis added.) Foster, 171 Ill. 2d at 471. The State contends that the use of the word "must" indicates that compliance with Rule 604(d) is jurisdictional. The State, however, overlooks the preceding sentence, which provides that "[t]hough the appellate court may have jurisdiction, Rule 604(d) precludes it from considering the appeal of such an error unless the defendant" first files a written motion pursuant to Rule 604(d). (Emphasis added.) Foster, 171 Ill. 2d at 471. Contrary to the State's argument, then, a written motion pursuant Rule 604(d) is not required in order to vest the appellate court with jurisdiction over a defendant's appeal.

Moreover, as respondent argues, if the failure to comply with Rule 604(d) deprived a court of jurisdiction, such noncompliance would always require dismissal of a defendant's appeal. However, since our decision in Wilk, this court has recognized certain exceptions to the written motion requirement of Rule 604(d). For example, in Foster this court recognized an "admonition exception" to Rule 604(d). Specifically, this court held that where a trial court fails to issue Rule 605(b) admonitions, the appellate court may entertain an appeal from a sentence despite defendant's noncompliance with the written motion requirement of Rule 604(d). Foster, 171 Ill. 2d at 473. We explained, however, that "[w]here the appellate court may consider an appeal despite a defendant's noncompliance with Rule 604(d), the appellate court has no discretion and must remand for strict compliance therewith." Foster, 171 Ill. 2d at 474.

Similarly, in People v. Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d 378 (2002), this court again addressed the written motion requirement of Rule 604(d). There, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder after his court-appointed psychiatrist found him fit to stand trial. Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d at 379. At the defendant's sentencing hearing, the psychiatrist testified that he would have found the defendant insane at the time of the alleged offense under the prior version of the insanity statute. Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d at 380. While the defendant's appeal was pending before the appellate court, the defendant alerted the appellate court to the fact that the public act creating the new version of the insanity statute had been declared unconstitutional by this court. Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d at 381. Nonetheless, the appellate court denied the defendant's request to vacate his guilty plea or to allow him leave to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea in the trial court. Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d at 381.

On appeal to this court, the defendant claimed that the appellate court had erred in denying his request to vacate his guilty plea. Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d at 382. The State argued that the defendant could not challenge the validity of his guilty plea because he did not file a written motion to vacate his guilty plea in the trial court prior to challenging that plea on appeal. Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d at 382. This court agreed that, in the usual case, the defendant's failure to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea within the time allotted by Rule 604(d) would leave him without a remedy. Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d at 382. We stated, however, that:

"[w]hile it is true this court does not approve of any failure to comply strictly with the explicitly stated requirements of Rule 604(d) (People v. Wilk, 124 Ill. 2d 93, 103 (1988)), the unusual and fact-specific circumstances found in this case lead us to believe that the ends of justice will be better served by permitting defendant leave to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea in the trial court." Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d at 382.

We therefore remanded the cause to the trial court to give the defendant an opportunity to file a motion to vacate his guilty plea. Belcher, 199 Ill. 2d at 383-84.

The fact that this court has recognized exceptions to the written motion requirements of Rule 604(d), then, reinforces our statement in Foster that those requirements are not jurisdictional. Because failure to comply with the written motion requirement of Rule 604(d) does not deprive a court of jurisdiction in the adult context, it follows that the failure to comply with the written motion requirement does not deprive the appellate court of jurisdiction in the juvenile context. Consequently, we affirm the appellate court's finding that respondent's failure to file a written motion pursuant to Rule 604(d) did not deprive the court of jurisdiction over the appeal. To the extent that the appellate court's decision in In re A.W., 185 Ill. App. 3d 473 (1989), suggests that the appellate court must dismiss a juvenile's appeal for lack of jurisdiction when the minor fails to comply with the written motion requirement of Rule 604(d), that decision is hereby overruled.

We next must determine whether the appellate court properly remanded this cause to the circuit court for further proceedings in compliance with Rule 604(d). As discussed, in the context of adult defendants, we have acknowledged that an attorney's failure to adhere to Rule 604(d) despite hearing the admonishments required by Rule 605(b) falls "short ...


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