Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Springfield, and Robert B. Berlin, of Wheaton (Carolyn E. Shapiro, Solicitor General, and Michael M. Glick and Gopi Kashyap, Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, of counsel), for the People.
Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Thomas A. Lilien, Deputy Defender, and Sherry R. Silvern, Assistant Appellate Defender, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, of Elgin, for appellee.
Chief Justice Garman and Justices Thomas, Kilbride, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] The sole issue on appeal is whether the saving clause in the exclusive jurisdiction provision of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Juvenile Court Act) (705 ILCS 405/5-120 (West 2012)) violates the equal protection rights of defendant Jermaine Richardson. The circuit court of Du Page County found the clause violated defendant's equal protection rights and declared it unconstitutional as applied to him. Pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 603 (eff. Feb. 6, 2013), the State's appeal comes directly to this court. For the following reasons, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court and remand the cause for further proceedings.
[¶3] In June 2013, defendant was indicted on two counts of criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/11-1.20(a)(2) (West 2012)) and one count of criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/11-1.50(a)(2) (West 2012)) for acts he allegedly committed against N.B. on March 28, 2012, when he was 17 years old. At the time of the alleged offenses, the Juvenile Court Act only applied to those minors who were under 17 years of age, with certain exceptions not relevant here. Subsequently, in July 2013, the Governor approved Public Act 98-61, section 5 (eff. Jan. 1, 2014), which amended the exclusive jurisdiction provision of the Juvenile Court Act to apply to those minors who were under 18 years of age, again with certain exceptions not relevant here. 705 ILCS 405/5-120 (West Supp. 2013). The amendment included a saving clause that provided: " [t]he changes made to this Section by this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly apply to violations or attempted violations committed on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act." 705 ILCS 405/5-120
(West Supp. 2013). Public Act 98-61, section 5, took effect on January 1, 2014.
[¶4] Defendant filed a motion in the circuit court in May 2014, entitled " Motion to Declare Adult Prosecution Unconstitutional." The motion alleged that the amendment's saving clause violated defendant's equal protection rights under both the federal and state constitutions. Defendant argued that he was similarly situated to those 17-year-olds who allegedly committed offenses on or after the amendment's effective date and there was no rational basis to treat him differently.
[¶5] The circuit court granted defendant's motion, declaring the amendment's saving clause unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amend. XIV) and article I, section 2, of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 2). The court found that the amendment's effective date violated defendant's equal protection rights and declared it unconstitutional as applied to him. The court reasoned that there was no rational basis to treat defendant differently than a 17-year-old who is alleged to have committed an offense on or after the amendment's effective date. Defendant's case was subsequently transferred to the juvenile division of the circuit court. The State's direct appeal to this court followed. Ill. S.Ct. R. 603 (eff. Feb. 6, 2013).
[¶7] On appeal, the State contends, inter alia, that the saving clause does not violate equal protection principles because it is rationally related to the State's legitimate interest in amending the exclusive jurisdiction provision of the Juvenile Court Act. Defendant responds that the saving clause is not rationally related to the amendment's purpose of including 17-year-olds within the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court Act because it excludes ...