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In re Randall M.

July 5, 2007

IN RE RANDALL M., A MINOR
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
RANDALL M., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. Nos. 05-JD-264 & 06-JD-498 Honorable Raymond D. Collins, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Grometer

This appeal presents two issues involving section 5--410 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5--410 (West 2004)). The first issue is whether section 5--410 authorizes the automatic transfer of a minor with pending delinquency matters from a juvenile detention facility to an adult detention facility upon the minor's seventeenth birthday. The second issue is whether, under section 5--410, a minor 17 years of age or older with pending delinquency matters may be housed in the general population of a county jail.

On April 20, 2005, a petition for adjudication of wardship was filed in the circuit court of Lake County, as case number 05--JD--264. The petition alleged that the minor, Randall M., born on October 2, 1989, was delinquent in that he had committed the offense of domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12--3.2(a)(2) (West 2004)). On May 18, 2005, Randall admitted to the offense and was placed on probation for a period of one year. For reasons not relevant here, the period of probation was later extended until November 8, 2006.

On September 26, 2006, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship as case number 06--JD--498 and a corresponding petition to revoke Randall's probation in case number 05--JD--264. With respect to the former petition, the State alleged that Randall had possessed a firearm without the requisite firearm owner's identification (FOID) card (430 ILCS 65/14(c)(3) (West 2004)) and that he had committed the offense of unlawful use of a weapon (720 ILCS 5/24--1(a)(2) (West 2004)). At the detention hearing held later the same day, the trial court found "sufficient probable cause" to believe that Randall was delinquent. The court further determined that it was a matter of "immediate and urgent necessity" for the protection of both Randall and the community that Randall be held in "secure detention." See 705 ILCS 405/5--410(2)(a) (West 2004). Pursuant to a local court rule, a minor determined to require "secure detention" is lodged in the Hulse Detention Center unless otherwise ordered by a juvenile court judge. 19th Judicial Cir. Ct. R. 9.13 (eff. January 2, 1997). At the conclusion of the detention hearing, the trial court asked about the date of Randall's birthday, noting that he would be turning 17 in October. The assistant State's Attorney responded that Randall would turn 17 on the following Monday. The court then stated, "Monday? Monday you will be transferred to Lake County."

On September 29, 2006, Randall's attorney filed an emergency motion to enjoin the automatic transfer of Randall from the Hulse Detention Center to the Lake County jail. The motion averred that Randall would turn 17 years old on October 2, 2006, and that "[b]ased upon information and belief from past practices, because the minor will have attained the age of 17 the Juvenile Detention Center will automatically transfer the minor to the custody of the Lake County Sheriff, who will then incarcerate the Minor [sic] within the general population of the jail with adult arrestees and criminals." The matter proceeded to a hearing on October 2, 2006.

At the hearing on the emergency motion, Randall's attorney told the court that Randall was turning 17 that day and that based on what counsel had "seen throughout [his] career and years in juvenile court they're going to move [Randall] to the Lake County Jail." Randall's attorney further asserted that there was no basis in law for the transfer to occur. The State informed the court of its belief that the court was "within [its] rights to transfer [Randall] who *** turns 17 today as we have been doing in the past to keep him separate now from the juveniles that are out at the Hulse Detention Center." Ultimately, the trial court denied the emergency motion, stating:

"Pursuant to 705 ILCS Section 405/5--410, Subsection V, minors under the age of 17 shall be kept separate from confined adults and may not at any time be kept in the cell, room or yard with adults confined pursuant to criminal law. Persons 17 years of age and older who have a petition of delinquency filed against them shall be confined in an adult detention facility.

In making a determination whether to confine a person 17 years of age or older who has a petition of delinquency filed against the person these factors have to be considered, the age of the person. He's obviously 17 years old today and any--any previous delinquent history. In looking at the past socials that have been filed on the two cases he has a domestic battery from '05 and he has a criminal trespass to real property in '05 and he has unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle from '05 and then the present pending petitions against him.

Based on those two--the other two factors, any previous neglect or abuse history of the person, which I don't think there is any, any mental health or education history of the person, but based on the first two factors I am going to deny the motion of the public defender's office and transfer--have the minor transferred to the Lake County Jail pursuant to statute."

On October 10, 2006, Randall filed a petition for leave to appeal to this court (see 210 Ill. 2d R. 306(a)(5)) as well as a notice of interlocutory appeal. On November 7, 2006, this court allowed Randall's petition for leave to appeal. During the pendency of this appeal, Randall admitted to possessing a firearm without a FOID card (430 ILCS 65/14(c)(3) (West 2004)) and testified at his sentencing hearing that while housed in the Lake County jail, he was "kept in population" with "adults."

As noted, we are presented with two principal issues in this case. The first is whether section 5--410 of the Act (705 ILCS 405/5--410 (West 2004)) authorizes the automatic transfer of a minor with pending delinquency matters from a juvenile detention facility to an adult detention facility upon the minor's seventeenth birthday. The second is whether the same statute allows a minor 17 years of age or older with pending delinquency matters to be housed in the general population of a county jail. Before turning to these matters, we must address the State's suggestion that this appeal is moot. The State points out that Randall was sentenced subsequent to the date he filed his notice of appeal and that he is no longer subject to the statutory provisions in question.

An issue becomes moot when an actual controversy no longer exists and the interests of the parties no longer are in controversy. In re Dexter L., 334 Ill. App. 3d 557, 558 (2002). As a general rule, a reviewing court will not decide moot or abstract questions. In re J.T., 221 Ill. 2d 338, 349 (2006). However, reviewing courts may examine an otherwise moot issue pursuant to the public-interest exception. This exception applies if the following three criteria are present: (1) the question is of a public nature; (2) an authoritative determination on the question will help guide public officers in the performance of their duties; and (3) the question is likely to recur. In re Dru G., 369 Ill. App. 3d 650, 654 (2006). This case satisfies all three of the foregoing requirements. First, the questions we are asked to address are undoubtedly of a public nature, as they deal in general with the status and welfare of minors in detention and in particular with whether such minors may be automatically transferred to an adult facility upon their seventeenth birthdays and housed within the general population of a county jail. Second, we have found no cases interpreting the statutory provisions at issue, and Randall has provided this court with letters from counties throughout this state that indicate that not all jurisdictions treat in the same manner the arrival of the seventeenth birthday of a minor with pending delinquency matters.*fn1 By addressing these issues, we hope to provide guidance and create uniformity in the application of the relevant provisions of the Act. Third, it is evident from the letters provided by these other counties that regardless of whether Randall is currently incarcerated, other minors continue to be automatically transferred from juvenile facilities to adult facilities upon turning 17 and some of these minors are held in the general population of the jail. Thus, the questions are likely to recur. Accordingly, we will address the issues.

Both of the inquiries presented in this case involve matters of statutory construction. The cardinal rule of statutory construction is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the legislature. People v. Brady, 369 Ill. App. 3d 836, 843 (2007). Ordinarily, the best indicator of the legislature's intent is the language of the statute itself. Brady, 369 Ill. App. 3d at 843. All provisions of a statutory enactment are to be viewed as a whole. In re Detention of Lieberman, 201 Ill. 2d 300, 308 (2002). As such, we must construe words and phrases in light of the other relevant portions of the statute so that, if possible, no term is rendered superfluous or meaningless. West Suburban Bank v. City of Chicago, 366 Ill. App. 3d 1137, 1140 (2006). If the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, we will give effect to the statute's plain meaning. People v. Pierce, 367 Ill. App. 3d 203, 205 (2006). If, however, the statutory language is ambiguous, we may resort to other interpretive aids to resolve the ambiguity and ascertain the legislature's intent. People v. Taylor, 221 Ill. 2d 157, 163 (2006). We are also mindful of the rule that any ambiguity in a penal statute should be construed in favor of the accused. People v. Kohl, 364 Ill. App. 3d 495, 499-500 (2006). We review issues of statutory construction de novo. In re Jaime P., 223 Ill. 2d 526, 532 (2006).

Our first task is to determine whether the Act authorizes the automatic transfer of a minor with pending delinquency matters to an adult detention facility upon the minor's seventeenth birthday. The Act defines a "delinquent minor" as "any minor who prior to his or her 17th birthday has violated or attempted to violate, regardless of where the act occurred, any federal or State law, county or municipal ordinance." 705 ILCS 405/5--105(3) (West 2004). The Act further provides that when there is reasonable cause to believe that the minor is a delinquent minor, confinement in a county jail shall be in accordance with the restrictions set forth in sections 5--410 (705 ILCS 405/5--410 (West 2004)) and 5--501 (705 ILCS ...


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