Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 15JA 455 The
Honorable Kimberly D. Lewis and Maxwell Griffin., Jr.,
PRESIDING JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justices Neville and Pierce concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Respondent Tanisha C. is the biological mother of the
minor, J.P. The Public Defender of Cook County, Tanisha's
attorney, has moved for leave to withdraw under
Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551 (1987), based
on the conclusion that there are no meritorious issues raised
in this appeal. Although the motion cites Finley,
counsel has filed a brief referring to matters that might
arguably support an appeal, complying with the stricter
standard for withdrawal established in Anders v.
California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967). Copies of the motion
and brief were sent to respondent advising her to submit any
points in support of the appeal. She has not responded.
2 Tanisha seeks to appeal from trial court orders which (i)
found the minor was abused or neglected due to an injurious
environment, physical abuse, and substantial risk of physical
injury (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b), 2-3(2)(i), 2-3(2)(ii) (West
Supp. 2015)); (ii) made no finding on the identity of the
perpetrator of the abuse and neglect; (ii) determined
respondent is unable, for reasons other than financial
circumstances alone, to care for, protect, train, or
discipline the minor (705 ILCS 405/2-27 (West 2014)); and
(iv) adjudged the minor to be a ward of the court and placed
her in the custody and guardianship of the Department of
Children and Family Services. (The trial court also
determined that Julius P., the father of J.P., was unable,
for reasons other than financial circumstances alone, to care
for, protect, train, or discipline the minor. He is not a
party to this appeal.)
3 Withdrawal from Representation in Parental Rights Cases
4 Before considering the motion, we wish to address the
correct manner by which appellate counsel should seek to
withdraw from representation on direct appeal, where the
respondent appeals from orders affecting parental rights
under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/1-1
et seq.) (West 2014). No decision from the First
District has resolved this issue, and, in similar cases
before this court, appellants' attorneys have sought
leave to withdraw under Anders or Finley.
Therefore, we clarify that the correct procedure for
withdrawing from representation follows the decision of the
United States Supreme Court in Anders, rather than
Finley. See In re S.M., 314 Ill.App.3d 682,
685 (2000) ("The procedure for appellate counsel to
withdraw as outlined in Anders applies to findings
of parental unfitness and termination of parental
5 In clarifying the appropriate procedure, we briefly
contrast the holdings in Anders and Finley.
In Anders, appointed counsel may request leave to
withdraw from representation on direct appeal.
Anders, 386 U.S. at 744. Recognizing that indigent
defendants for whom appellate counsel is appointed must
receive "the same rights and opportunities" enjoyed
by defendants who can afford private counsel, the Court
determined that appointed counsel must act as "an active
advocate, " even in the absence of issues of merit.
6 As this court has explained, the Anders process
consists of four steps. See In re S.M., 314
Ill.App.3d at 685. First, counsel must file a brief which
refers to anything in the record that might arguably support
the appeal, even though not a basis for appellate relief, or
that might arguably be meritorious in the judgment of the
client, another attorney, or the court. Id. Next,
counsel must "(a) sketch the argument in support of the
issues that could conceivably be raised on appeal, and then
(b) explain why [counsel] believes the arguments are
frivolous." Id. Then, counsel must conclude
that no viable grounds exist for the appeal. Id.
Finally, counsel, "to properly fulfill 
responsibilities under Anders, " should attach
transcripts of the relevant hearings, including, in cases
involving termination of parental rights cases, the fitness
and best interests hearings. Id.
7 In Finley, by contrast, the Court held that the
Anders procedure is not required where counsel seeks
to withdraw from representation on collateral appeal.
Finley, 481 U.S. at 554-55. The Court explained that
States may elect to recognize a right to counsel in
collateral proceedings but are not so required by the United
States Constitution. Id. at 556-57. Consequently,
States need not impose Anders'
"prophylactic framework" when appellate counsel
requests leave to withdraw on collateral appeal, as "no
[federal constitutional] obligation to provide this avenue of
relief" exists. Id. at 555, 557.
8 As we have stated, Anders, and not
Finley, provides the correct procedure where counsel
seeks to withdraw from representation on direct appeal from
orders affecting parental rights under the Act. Although
proceedings related to parental rights are civil in nature,
and a parent's right to counsel is statutory (705 ILCS
405/1-5(1) (West 2014)); nonetheless, Anders applies
because it "put[s] the indigent appellants on the same
footing as those able to afford private counsel and
accomplishes the constitutional and statutory purpose for
their appointment." In re Keller, 138
Ill.App.3d 746, 747-48 (1985). Also, "[t]ermination of
parental rights is a serious matter" (In re Adoption
of H.B., 2012 IL App (4th) 120459, ¶ 18), which
affects responsibilities "of deep human importance"
(In re S.M., 314 Ill.App.3d at 685). Given these
equitable considerations, the motion for leave to withdraw as
counsel should specifically cite to Anders.
9 Review in This Case
10 Here, we observe that counsel's motion included a
memorandum of law that meets the Anders
requirements. We have carefully reviewed the record, along
with counsel's brief, and find no issues of arguable
merit to be asserted on appeal. Therefore, although counsel
designated the motion under Finley, we grant
counsel's motion for leave to withdraw, and affirm the
orders of the circuit court. We instruct the bar, however,
that Finley is inapposite to cases involving direct
appeals from ...