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In re Ronald J.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

April 11, 2017

In re RONALD J., a Minor
v.
Ronald J., Respondent-Appellant. The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,

         Appeal from Circuit Court of Logan County Nos. 14JD2115JD31 Honorable William G. Workman, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE APPLETON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Steigmann and Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          APPLETON, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 After adjudicating respondent, Ronald J., to be a delinquent minor and making him a ward of the court, the trial court committed him to the Department of Juvenile Justice (Department). Respondent appeals on two grounds: (1) the court erred by finding commitment to be in his best interest and in the best interest of the public, and (2) the court failed to review statutorily required evidence before ordering his commitment.

         ¶ 2 We agree with the second argument and thus do not reach the first argument. One of the individualized factors the trial court had to consider was the "[e]ducational background of the minor, indicating whether the minor ha[d] ever been assessed for a learning disability, and if so what services were provided as well as any disciplinary incidents at school." 705 ILCS 405/5-750(1)(D) (West 2014). The only school-related evidence in the record is that respondent is a freshman at Lincoln Community High School, he has accumulated a lot of unexcused absences, and he has been repeatedly suspended. The record does not reveal anything else about his educational background or whether he ever has been assessed with a learning disability. Nor does the record reveal the nature of the disciplinary incidents for which he was suspended. Until the trial court hears and considers such evidence, it lacks the discretion to order commitment. See 705 ILCS 405/5-750(1) (West 2014). Therefore, we vacate the order of commitment, and we remand this case for full compliance with section 5-750(1)(D) of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5-750(1)(D) (West 2014)).

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 On May 5, 2014, in Logan County case No. 14-JD-21, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship, in which the State accused respondent (born April 26, 2000) of committing misdemeanor theft (720 ILCS 5/16-l(a)(1) (West 2014)) by stealing a child's bicycle from a front lawn.

         ¶ 5 On July 17, 2014, in return for 12 months of probation, respondent pleaded guilty to theft. The probation was conditional on his serving 15 days of detention, which were stayed; performing 40 hours of community service within the next 9 months; and refraining from committing any further crimes.

         ¶ 6 On March 4, 2015, the State filed a motion to lift the stay of detention. According to the motion, respondent had accumulated 40 unexcused absences from Lincoln Community High School; 30 in-school suspensions; 8 external suspensions, each lasting one day; and an external suspension lasting four days. On March 12, 2015, the trial court found respondent to be noncompliant with probation, and the court lifted the stay as to seven days.

         ¶7 On April 30, 2015, the State filed another motion to lift the stay of detention. According to this motion, respondent had accumulated nine unexcused absences from school and had received an external suspension for five days. On June 4, 2015, the trial court again found him to be noncompliant, and the court lifted the stay as to eight days.

         ¶8 On June 24, 2015, the State filed a petition to revoke probation. The petition alleged that respondent had failed to complete 40 hours of community service.

         ¶9 On July 14, 2015, in Logan County case No. 15-JD-31, the State filed another petition for adjudication of wardship. This petition alleged that respondent had committed the Class 2 felony of burglary (720 ILCS 5/19-1 (a), (b) (West 2014)) by entering a car and taking change out of the center console.

         ¶ 10 In a hearing on September 10, 2015, respondent pleaded guilty to burglary and admitted he had failed to perform the required community service. The trial court revoked probation and resentenced him to five years of probation. This probation was conditional on his attending school each day (or having an excused absence), completing 60 hours of community service within 9 months, and staying indoors between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. each day of the week.

         ¶ 11 On November 19, 2015, the State filed a motion to lift the stay of detention on the ground that respondent had received 27 unexcused absences from school. On December 3, 2015, the trial court found respondent to be ...


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