Supreme Court Summaries

Opinion filed June 30, 2011

 

No. 107750     In re Jonathan C.B.

 

Appellate citation: 386 Ill. App. 3d 735.

 

            JUSTICE THOMAS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

            Justices Garman, Karmeier, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

            Chief Justice Kilbride dissented, with opinion.

            Justice Freeman dissented, with opinion.

            Justice Burke dissented, with opinion.

 

            In Champaign County, this minor, then 16, was charged with criminal sexual assault and attempted robbery on the basis of late-night events which occurred in Champaign in August of 2006. A delinquency petition was filed, and, in bench proceedings, the minor was found guilty, adjudicated delinquent, and committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice for a term of 15 years or until age 21. The appellate court affirmed.

            The minor did not contest the attempted robbery charge further, but, in the supreme court, continued to challenge the finding as to criminal sexual assault, claiming that the sexual activity had been consensual. He also complained that he had been shackled during the circuit court proceedings without any hearing having been held as to whether this was necessary, as required under People v. Boose, 66 Ill. 2d 261 (1977).

            In this decision, the supreme court held that the evidence on the sex offense charge, though conflicting in some aspects, had been sufficient for a finding of guilt. Clearly the trial court found the complaining witness to be credible.

            As to the shackling, the defense had not objected, and no hearing on this matter was requested, resulting in a forfeiture. The minor argued that the trial court's failure to sua sponte either order the removal of the shackles or conduct a hearing was per se reversible error. In the alternative, he argued for plain-error review. However, the supreme court, in this decision, found no error at all because there was no indication in the record that the judge knew about the shackles until the minor was called to testify, at which point they were ordered removed. Neither was there any indication that shackles were put back on after his testimony. Therefore, no error was shown.

            As a third issue, it was contended on behalf of Jonathan that the Juvenile Court Act provision denying the right to jury trial to juveniles is contrary to the Illinois Constitution and also that denying a jury trial to juveniles charged with sex offenses offends both due process and equal protection.

            The Constitution of Illinois guarantees the right to a jury trial in criminal prosecutions, but the Juvenile Court Act denies the right to jury trial to minors except in certain specific instances that are not applicable here.

            Meanwhile, the Constitution of the United States has not been held to guarantee the right to jury trial to minors in state court juvenile proceedings. Juvenile proceedings have evolved in recent years to be more like criminal proceedings, with added emphasis on punishment and the protection of the public, and with changes in terminology which took effect in Illinois in 1999. The Supreme Court of Illinois held here that rehabilitation remains a more important consideration in the juvenile system than in the criminal system. It followed precedent and declined to hold that the Illinois Constitution’s right to a jury trial extends to juveniles. The results reached below were affirmed.