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In Re J.R v. Jacqualine R

June 6, 2011

IN RE J.R.,
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
JACQUALINE R.,
RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, a Minor La Salle County, Illinois, Nos. 09--JD--22 and 09--JD--108 Honorable William Balestri, Judge, Presiding.

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

PRESIDING JUSTICE CARTER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Schmidt and McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion

OPINION

The minor, J.R., was adjudged delinquent and committed for an indeterminate amount of time to the Department of Juvenile Justice pursuant to section 5--750 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (the Act) (705 ILCS 405/5--750 (West 2008)). His mother, the respondent, Jacqualine R., appeals the commitment, and the appointment of the Director of Juvenile Justice as the minor's legal custodian, arguing that the trial court's decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence. Jacqualine also argues that the trial court erred in finding that she made a knowing waiver of her right to counsel and her right to present evidence at the dispositional hearing. We affirm.

FACTS

On February 13, 2009, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship, alleging that the minor was delinquent under section 5--105 of the Act (705 ILCS 405/5--105(3) (West 2008)) based on seven counts of disorderly conduct and one count of sexual exploitation of a child. The minor was appointed counsel, and he admitted to the seven counts of disorderly conduct. Jacqualine was admonished regarding her right to independent counsel, but she chose to waive her right to her own counsel and indicated that she was satisfied with the same counsel as the minor. The State withdrew the count alleging sexual exploitation of a child, and the trial court found the minor delinquent. The trial court made the minor a ward of the court and placed the minor on probation for a year.

Three months later, the State filed a contempt petition, alleging that the minor violated the terms of his probation by committing additional acts of disorderly conduct, resisting a peace officer, aggravated assault, and unlawful use of a weapon. The trial court entered a temporary detention order. Thereafter, the State filed a petition to revoke the minor's probation and withdrew the contempt petition. At the hearing on the petition to revoke, Jacqualine was again admonished of her right to counsel, and she again chose to continue with the same attorney as the minor. The minor admitted to six of the eight new violations, and the State withdrew one charge of disorderly conduct and the charge of aggravated assault. The trial court revoked the minor's probation. The trial court entered an order of adjudication of wardship, finding the minor delinquent.

At the dispositional hearing, Kim Pittman, the minor's probation officer, testified that a juvenile sex offender evaluation was conducted on the minor by Cindy Robinson of the Youth Service Bureau. The purpose of the evaluation was to look at the minor's sexual behavior and determine his risk of reoffending. During the evaluation, the minor took out a knife, which led to some of the additional charges in the petition to revoke. Robinson recommended that the minor be incarcerated in a secure facility that could provide mental health treatment.

Pittman also testified that Dr. Mary Zashin performed a psychological evaluation on the minor, focusing on his level of learning and functioning. Zashin recommended that the minor be placed in a residential facility where he could get sex offender and mental health treatment, and participate in a developmentally delayed program. Pittman testified that since there were two different recommendations, the minor was sentenced to a 30-day diagnostic at the Department of Juvenile Justice. After the intake, the minor was sent to the sex offender unit, and was involved in treatment there. That report recommended sex offender, mental health, substance abuse, and anger management treatment in a protected, structured environment. Pittman recommended that the minor be remanded back to the Department of Juvenile Justice to continue sex offender treatment.

After the dispositional hearing, after which counsel was appointed for Jacqualine per her request, the trial court found that the minor needed treatment in a secure setting. The trial court considered the minor's best interest, but it also took into consideration the protection of the public and the minor's criminal offenses and dangerous thoughts. Based on those considerations, the trial court committed the minor to the Department of Juvenile Justice for an indeterminate amount of time, not to exceed five years or his twenty-first birthday, and appointed the Director of Juvenile Justice as his legal guardian. On the preprinted form on which the trial court entered the minor's judgment and sentence, the trial court found that reasonable efforts had been made to prevent the need for removing the minor from the home and that removal was in the minor's best interest. The trial court then checked both alternative boxes:

(1) that the parents of the minor were unable or unwilling to care for the minor and the best interest of the minor and the public would not be served by placement under section 5--740 of the Act (705 ILCS 405/5--740 (West 2008)); and (2) commitment was necessary to protect the public.

Jacqualine filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the minor did not receive a full and fair hearing. The trial court denied the motion, finding that Jacqualine had been advised that she could obtain counsel and she chose to rely on the minor's attorney. Also, the trial court noted that testimony offered by Jacqualine from family members and friends would not cause it to reconsider its decision, which was based on psychological evaluations and the juvenile justice evaluation. Jacqualine appealed.

ANALYSIS

Jacqualine essentially raises two issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court's decision to commit the minor was against the manifest weight of the evidence; (2) whether the trial court erred when it denied Jacqualine's motion for reconsideration. The State argues that Jacqualine lacks standing to challenge the dispositional order and that the trial court's decision to commit the minor to the Department of Juvenile Justice was not an abuse of discretion. ...


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