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In re J.R.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

October 17, 2019

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

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 18 JD 60109 Honorable Terrence V. Sharkey, Judge, presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: James E. Chadd, Patricia Mysza, and Katherine Jane Miller, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

          Attorneys for Appellee: Kimberly M. Foxx, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg, Veronica Calderon Malavia and Annette Collins, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

          JUSTICE LAMPKIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Gordon and Justice Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          LAMPKIN, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Respondent-minor J.R. was adjudicated delinquent for robbery and sentenced to a three-year term of probation. J.R.'s probation conditions included an order that he would have no contact with street gangs, guns, or drugs. This no-gang-contact provision prohibited him from participating in any activities that furthered or promoted a function of a street gang and included restrictions on his social media usage.

         ¶ 2 On appeal, J.R. argues that the juvenile court's probation condition prohibiting his contact with street gangs and associated social media usage was unconstitutionally overbroad and vague.[1]

         ¶ 3 For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.[2]

         ¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 J.R. was charged with one count each of armed robbery, aggravated robbery, and robbery for the June 20, 2018, robbery of 16-year-old Jonathan R. in the alley outside his home.

         ¶ 6 According to the evidence the State presented at the October 2018 bench trial, at about 4 p.m. on the date in question, Jonathan was throwing trash into a garbage can in the alley outside his home. He planned to go shopping with his family later that day and had in his pockets his phone and the $300 he had earned from working with his father in construction. J.R., whom Jonathan recognized from school, and an unidentified male approached Jonathan. J.R. carried a bag and asked Jonathan if he wanted to buy Gucci sandals, which Jonathan asked to see. The other male stood behind J.R., had his hands in the pockets of his sweatshirt, and wore his sweatshirt hood up. Jonathan noticed the brown handle of a gun sticking out from the pocket of the other male's sweatshirt.

         ¶ 7 J.R. asked Jonathan what he had in his pockets, and Jonathan, to show his serious interest in the sandals, responded that he had $300, pulled the roll of bills from his pocket, and held the roll in front of his pocket. J.R. and the other male began to act suspiciously, looking in different directions. Jonathan backed away from them with his hand around his money in his pocket. Meanwhile, Jonathan's younger brother looked over the tall fence at the group in the alley but then got down from the fence and waited in the yard for Jonathan. J.R. grabbed Jonathan's hand and tried to pull it and the cash out of Jonathan's pocket. The other male put a revolver against Jonathan's ribs, said he had a gun, and told Jonathan to let go of the money. Jonathan complied, and J.R. and the other male ran away.

         ¶ 8 The juvenile court found that the evidence did not establish that J.R. knew about the gun before the robbery and thus ruled that he was not accountable for the use of the gun. The court found J.R. guilty only of robbery.

         ¶ 9 According to the social investigation report filed with the court in November 2018, J.R. told his probation officer that he had friends who were involved in street gangs. Also, J.R.'s denial of any direct involvement with street gangs was contradicted by school staff. When J.R. recently attended the church funeral of a friend who was a gang member and rapper, rival gang members "shot up" the church in broad daylight.

         ¶ 10 On the next court date in December 2018, the court stated that it was aware of "gang information" and Facebook photos posted by J.R. that showed him flashing gang signs and holding a gun. The court told him that these pictures were "not acceptable" and he must "deactivate, take [them] down, untag, whatever [he] need[ed] to do [because the court] want[ed] it gone." The court asked J.R.:

"Do you understand you are basically putting a target on your own head by doing this? You are telling the rest of the world and the rest of these fools that are out there, fighting over a piece of territory that does not even belong to them that you are part of something."

         The court also told J.R.:

"You can do great things with your life. The problem is you don't believe in yourself when you have to run around and do these kind of things.
I understand you may live in an area where there are people who are pushing you into this, but you need to get out of it and get away. You need to learn how to say no.
***
You need to redirect [the overwhelming pain of losing a sibling] and figure out how to handle it. Handling it in the street is only going to get you killed. Putting it out there so everybody sees it is only going to get you killed.
You can say, 'I can't do this because my judge will put me away in the Department of Juvenile Justice and that's where I'm gonna have to live until I'm 21 so I am not allowed to do this.' "

         ¶ 11 Then J.R.'s mother told the court that she had grave concerns about J.R.'s behavior and did not want him in her home. His paternal grandmother was his legal guardian at the time, and J.R. was not abiding by his curfew. He was having tremendous difficulty in school, failed to attend classes, and had been suspended. Although J.R. had blocked his mother on Facebook, she had learned from screen shots other people sent her that J.R. was communicating with someone and looking for a gun. She stated that J.R. did not come home for days, did not "care," and had no respect for authority. She explained that J.R.'s behavior worsened "because he was watching" his older ...


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