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In re D.R.

December 20, 2004

[5] IN RE D.R. & T.R., MINORS
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
APRELEY R., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, Nos. 03-JA-129 & 03-JA-33. Honorable Timothy M. Lucas, Judge, Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McDADE

[8]  The respondent, Apreley R., appeals from orders of the circuit court finding D.R. and T.R. neglected and making them wards of the court. The respondent argues that the evidence of her retail theft and the involvement of D.R. in the theft was insufficient to support the findings that D.R. and T.R. were neglected. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

[9]  FACTS

[10]   On September 20, 2003, the respondent went to the Famous Barr department store in Peoria with a 16-year-old girl and the respondent's four-year-old son, D.R. Over a period of approximately 30 minutes, the respondent selected articles of adult clothing and handed them to the 16-year-old, who removed the price tags and piled the clothes up on the floor. Throughout this period, store security watched them through closed-circuit cameras. The pile of clothes was out of the cameras' view, however, so the store manager walked to the area and observed the pile.

[11]   After approximately 30 minutes, the respondent placed the articles of clothing in two Famous Barr bags. The three attempted to walk out of the store with the clothes; the 16-year-old carried one bag and D.R. carried the other bag. After exiting the store, store security stopped them. Upon searching the bags, store security recognized the clothes as the ones seen through the closed-circuit cameras. The total value of the stolen items was $470. The respondent, pregnant with T.R. at the time, was arrested and handcuffed in the presence of D.R.

[12]   On November 14, 2003, the State filed a petition, alleging that D.R. was neglected. The State argued that the minor was in an injurious environment, as evidenced by the incident in which the respondent had D.R. assist her in committing retail theft. On January 22, 2004, the State filed another petition, alleging that T.R., who was born on October 17, 2003, was neglected for the same reason. The circuit court consolidated the two actions.

[13]   An adjudicatory hearing was held on April 2, 2004, in which a store security member testified to the aforementioned incident. The State also entered into evidence two recordings made by the closed-circuit cameras. At the end of the hearing, the circuit court adjudged both D.R. and T.R. neglected. The circuit court held a dispositional hearing on June 25, 2004, and found that it was in the minors' best interests to be made wards of the court.

[14]   The respondent filed notices of appeal from the dispositional orders of June 25, 2004. Nowhere on these fill-in-the-blank forms did the respondent indicate her intent to challenge the adjudicatory orders of April 2, 2004. On appeal, the respondent argues that the circuit court (1) erroneously adjudged D.R. neglected because proof of theft alone is insufficient to establish an injurious environment; and (2) erroneously adjudged T.R. neglected because proof of neglect as to D.R., without more, is insufficient to establish that T.R. was subjected to an injurious environment.

[15]   ANALYSIS

[16]   JURISDICTION

[17]   Initially, the State contends that this court lacks jurisdiction to hear the respondent's argument because the respondent did not specify her intent to challenge the neglect adjudications in her notices of appeal. We disagree.

[18]   Supreme Court Rule 303(b)(2) (155 Ill. 2d R. 303(b)(2)) requires a notice of appeal to "specify the judgment or part thereof or other orders appealed from and the relief sought from the reviewing court." In Burtell v. First Charter Service Corp., 76 Ill. 2d 427, 394 N.E.2d 380 (1979), our supreme court noted that "the appeal from a subsequent final judgment 'draws in question all prior non-final orders and rulings which produced the judgment.' [Citation.]" Burtell, 76 Ill. 2d at 433, 394 N.E.2d at 382. Furthermore, "it is generally accepted that a notice of appeal is to be liberally construed." Burtell, 76 Ill. 2d at 433, 394 N.E.2d at 382. Burtell therefore approves (or at least allows) a less-than-strict reading of Rule 303(b)(2)'s language.

[19]   In support of its argument, the State cites In re J.P., 331 Ill. App. 3d 220, 770 N.E.2d 1160 (2002), for the proposition that an appellate court lacks jurisdiction if the respondent failed to include an intent to challenge a neglect adjudication within a notice of appeal from a dispositional order.

[20]   In J.P., two children were adjudicated abused and neglected and made wards of the court at the dispositional hearing. The father filed a notice of appeal from both the adjudication order and the dispositional orders. The mother, however, filed a notice of appeal from the dispositional orders only. On appeal, the mother ...


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