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In re Jarquan B.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

September 30, 2016

IN THE INTEREST OF JARQUAN B., a Minor,
v.
JARQUAN B., a Minor Respondent-Appellant. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Petitioner-Appellee,

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 15 JD 00085 Honorable Stuart F. Lubin, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion. Presiding Justice Hyman dissented, in part, with opinion.

          OPINION

          PIERCE, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Respondent, Jarquan B., was found to be in violation of his misdemeanor probation on November 17, 2015, and was committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Respondent argues the 2016 amendment to section 710(b)(1) of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act), precluded the juvenile court from committing him to the DJJ for a misdemeanor offense. 705 ILCS 405/5-710(1)(b) (West 2016). He also argues that the court did not award the proper credit against his sentence for time served on home confinement. For the following reasons, we affirm but modify the mittimus.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 The State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship for the offense of criminal trespass to a motor vehicle, a Class A misdemeanor (720 ILCS 5/21-2 (West 2014)), after respondent, a minor, was observed driving in a stolen vehicle on December 18, 2014. Respondent entered a plea of guilty on February 26, 2015 and was sentenced to 12 months' court supervision, 30 days stayed detention, and community service. The court informed respondent that if he violated the terms of his supervision, it could enter a finding of delinquency against him and "place [him] on probation, I can hold you in custody for up to 30 days, or I could send you to the Department of Corrections." On the date of the offense the maximum sentence for a Class A misdemeanor was less than one year incarceration. 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55 (West 2014).

         ¶ 4 The State filed a motion to execute the stay of mittimus in July 2015, asking the trial court to hold respondent in the juvenile temporary detention center (JTDC) for leaving his residential placement without permission. The court entered and continued the motion to stay and gave respondent a chance to remain at home while on electronic home monitoring (EHM). Respondent violated his EHM the next day and the court ordered respondent to serve 10 days in JTDC. After he was released, respondent again left his placement without permission and was ordered to serve another 10 days in the JTDC.

         ¶ 5 On September 28, 2015, the State filed a petition alleging that respondent violated his supervision by leaving his residential placement. On October 13, 2015, respondent admitted to the petition and the court revoked his supervision. At sentencing on November 5, 2015, the court sentenced respondent to 6 months' probation. The court asked respondent if he understood that based on his admission, the court could have sentenced respondent to the DJJ where he could remain until he turned 21. Respondent answered that he understood.

         ¶ 6 On November 6, 2015, the State filed a supplemental petition alleging that respondent violated his probation because he missed school and left his residence. Respondent admitted to the supplemental probation violation. The matter was held over for sentencing and during this period respondent reportedly continued to violate the terms of his probation. The court again asked respondent if he was aware that based on his admission to the probation violation, that he could be committed to the DJJ. Respondent stated that he understood.

         ¶ 7 On December 5, 2015, respondent violated his electronic monitoring and the terms of his probation by leaving his residential placement without permission. An arrest warrant issued two days later. Respondent was arrested on the warrant on February 5, 2016.

         ¶ 8 On February 18, 2016, the probation department reported to the court that respondent's probation officer had wanted to request commitment to the DJJ in November or December 2015, but opined that the DJJ was no longer an option for respondent. While the court was considering possible sentences, respondent's probation officer told the court that "the law changed making him [respondent] less eligible for the Department of Corrections." The court stated that because respondent was placed on probation in November 2015, all sentences available then, including commitment to the DJJ, were possible. The court told respondent that if he left his placement again without permission, he would be sent to the DJJ.

         ¶ 9 In mid-March, 2016 respondent again left his residential placement without permission and an arrest warrant issued resulting in respondent's arrest about a month later. On April 26, 2016, the juvenile court sentenced respondent to the DJJ. The court rejected defense counsel's argument that the law had changed and minors could no longer be sentenced to the DJJ for misdemeanor adjudications. Respondent was given credit for the 67 days spent in detention, however, he was not given any credit for the time he was on electronic monitoring or home confinement. On April 28, 2016, the DJJ returned respondent to court apparently refusing to take custody of respondent, resulting in the court ordering its April 26 order committing respondent to the DJJ to stand, explaining that should the DJJ return respondent back to court, "the department [would] be held in contempt of court." Respondent appealed.

         ¶ 10 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 11 Effective January 1, 2016, section 710 of the Act was amended to prohibit the commitment of juveniles to the DJJ for misdemeanor offenses. 705 ILCS 405/5-710(1)(b) (West 2016). Respondent argues on appeal that on the date of sentencing, April 26, 2016, the juvenile court lacked the statutory authority to commit him to the DJJ for a violation of his misdemeanor probation.

         ¶ 12 Initially, the State argues that this issue is moot because respondent has served his sentence in the DJJ and has been released. An issue becomes moot when an actual controversy no longer exists and the interests of the parties no longer are in controversy. Novak v. Rathnam, 106 Ill.2d 478, 482 (1985). If an appeal involves the validity of a sentence, and that sentence has been served, the appeal is rendered moot. In re Shelby R., 2013 IL 114994. However, exceptions to the mootness doctrine exist. Specific to this case is the public interest exception that requires "(1) the existence of a question of a public nature; (2) the desirability of an authoritative determination for the purpose of guiding public officers in the performance of their duties; and (3) the likelihood the question will recur." People v. McCaskill, 298 Ill.App.3d 260, 264 (1998).

         ¶ 13 In In re Dexter L., 334 Ill.App.3d 557, 572 (2002), this court applied the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine where a juvenile was found in violation of his probation and was ordered to be detained for 30 days in the county jail. The State argued that the appeal was moot because respondent had already served the 30 days. We concluded that "[t]he detention of a juvenile is a matter of public concern, and an authoritative determination of the issue will guide public officials and juvenile court judges who are likely to face the problem in the future." Id. (citing People v. Clayborn, 90 Ill.App.3d 1047, 1052 (1980)). We also reasoned that, due to the time constraints imposed by the Act, the issue was likely to recur with other minors in the future. Id. We find the same considerations outlined in In re Dexter L., to be relevant here.

         ¶ 14 Similar to in In re Dexter L., the issue presented here is a matter of public concern and an authoritative determination of this issue by this court will guide juvenile court judges who are likely to consider this issue in the near future. There are undoubtedly numerous juveniles who, prior to January 1, 2016, are currently serving a sentence of probation for an underlying misdemeanor offense. Those juveniles were eligible to be sentenced to the DJJ at the time of sentencing on their misdemeanor offense and face the potential of being sentenced to the DJJ if found in violation of that probation. We therefore find the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine applies and we will consider the merits of respondent's appeal.

         ¶ 15 Respondent asserts the "statute" is ambiguous, without specifying what statute, or the basis for his argument. We assume what respondent is referring to is that the language of the 2016 amendment to section 710(1)(b) is ambiguous. Respondent and our dissenting colleague look to the legislative debates surrounding this amendment to discern the intent of the legislature in support of the argument that respondent's commitment to the DJJ after January 1, 2016 for a violation of misdemeanor probation imposed prior to January 1, 2016 is unauthorized.

         ¶ 16 Respondent argues that the juvenile court lacked the statutory authority under the Act to commit him to the DJJ for the misdemeanor offense of criminal trespass to vehicle because, as of January 1, 2016, the court no longer had the statutory authority to sentence him to the DJJ for a misdemeanor offense. On February 26, 2015, respondent pled guilty to criminal trespass to vehicle and was sentenced to supervision. On respondent's sentencing date, section 710(1)(b) of the Act authorized the ...


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