In re M.W., 104519.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtGarman
Citation328 Ill.Dec. 868,905 N.E.2d 757,232 Ill.2d 408
PartiesIn re M.W., a Minor (The People of the State of Illinois, Appellant, v. M.W., Appellee).
Docket NumberNo. 104519.,104519.
Decision Date23 January 2009
905 N.E.2d 757
232 Ill.2d 408
328 Ill.Dec. 868
In re M.W., a Minor (The People of the State of Illinois, Appellant, v. M.W., Appellee).
No. 104519.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
January 23, 2009.
Rehearing Denied March 23, 2009.

[905 N.E.2d 762]

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, Springfield Richard A. Devine, State's Attorney, Chicago (James E. Fitzgerald, Michelle Katz, Tasha-Marie Kelly and Alan J. Spellberg, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for appellant.

Patricia Unsinn, Deputy Defender, Joshua A. Tepfer, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, and Sanjay Nangia, law student, for appellee.

OPINION

Justice GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion:


Minor-respondent M.W. was adjudicated delinquent by the circuit court of Cook County. The appellate court vacated the order, finding that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to make such a finding because the minor's father had not been served with a copy of the amended delinquency petition, as required by section 5-530 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987(Act) (705 ILCS 405/5-530 (West 2004)). No. 1-05-3127 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

We granted the State's petition for leave to appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 315 (210 Ill.2d R. 315(a)) and, for the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the appellate court.

BACKGROUND

Shortly after midnight on a Saturday night in April 2003, a 14-year-old boy was attacked by a group of young people while riding a Chicago Transit Authority bus. His wallet and cell phone were stolen and he was kicked, stomped, and punched by the members of the group, several of whom fled when the bus stopped. The driver caught the attention of a nearby police officer, who boarded the bus. Respondent M.W. and Danielle were still on the bus. They were identified by the victim and another passenger as participants in the attack.

The State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship, charging M.W. with robbery. The record shows that service on M.W.'s mother was attempted, but was not successful. Both of her parents were present at the detention hearing. At that hearing, each parent was provided with a copy of the petition, pursuant to section 5-525 of the Act (705 ILCS 405/5-525 (West 2004)). The case was then continued to a later date. The father did not appear on the later date or at any of the subsequent proceedings.

After several continuances, the matter was set for an adjudicatory hearing. M.W., her mother, and her attorney were

905 N.E.2d 763

present when the State sought and was given leave to amend the petition to add a count of aggravated battery. A hearing on the amended petition immediately followed. The State had not notified the minor's father of its intent to seek leave to amend the petition, nor did it ask for a continuance to do so after leave was granted. M.W., however, did not object to the lack of notice to her absent father.

At the hearing, the victim of the assault and the passenger who witnessed it both testified. M.W. called the officer who took her into custody and also testified on her own behalf. The circuit court found M.W. delinquent on both of the alleged grounds and subsequently sentenced her to five years' probation with mandatory school attendance and 20 hours of community service.

On appeal, M.W. argued that the adjudication of delinquency was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because her father had not been served with written notice that the petition had been amended to add the additional charge, in violation of section 5-530 of the Act (705 ILCS 405/5-530 (West 2004)).

The appellate court agreed, relying on this court's decision in In re C.R.H., 163 Ill.2d 263, 271, 206 Ill.Dec. 100, 644 N.E.2d 1153 (1994) (State's failure to give formal written notice of delinquency proceedings to juvenile's custodial parent violated due process rights of both the juvenile and the parent and rendered the circuit court's orders void for lack of jurisdiction). No. 1-05-3127 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

ANALYSIS

The issues presented in this appeal are: (1) whether the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the delinquency petition, (2) whether the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over the minor's father, and (3) whether it was error, requiring reversal of the judgment, for the circuit court to adjudicate the matter when the State failed to comply with the statutory requirement that the father be given notice of the amendment to the petition.

Because the circuit court did not rule on the jurisdictional questions and was not asked to rule on the notice issue, our review in this matter is de novo.

In a general sense, "jurisdiction" refers to the "right or power to interpret and apply the law," or to a court's "sphere of authority or control." Webster's II New Collegiate Dictionary 601 (1999). In a technical, legal sense, however, jurisdiction is composed of two distinct elements: subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. If a court lacks either subject matter jurisdiction over the matter or personal jurisdiction over the parties, any order entered in the matter is void ab initio and, thus, may be attacked at any time. People v. Davis, 156 Ill.2d 149, 155, 189 Ill.Dec. 49, 619 N.E.2d 750 (1993). In contrast, an order entered in error by a court having jurisdiction is merely voidable and is, therefore, not subject to collateral attack. Davis, 156 Ill.2d at 155-56, 189 Ill.Dec. 49, 619 N.E.2d 750.

This case requires us to review the fundamental difference between subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction refers to the court's power "to hear and determine cases of the general class to which the proceeding in question belongs." Belleville Toyota, Inc. v. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc., 199 Ill.2d 325, 334, 264 Ill. Dec. 283, 770 N.E.2d 177 (2002). Personal jurisdiction is the court's power "to bring a person into its adjudicative process." Black's Law Dictionary 870 (8th ed.2004).

905 N.E.2d 764

We answer these jurisdictional questions in the context of the relevant provisions of the Act.

"§ 1-5. Rights of parties to proceedings.

(1) * * * [T]he minor who is the subject of the proceeding and his parents * * * have the right to be present, to be heard, to present evidence * * *. * * *

* * *

(3) Parties respondent are entitled to notice in compliance with Sections * * * 5-525 and 5-530 * * *." (Emphases added.) 705 ILCS 405/1-5(1), (3) (West 2004).

"§ 5-525. Service.

(1) Service by summons.

(a) Upon the commencement of a delinquency prosecution, the clerk of the court shall issue a summons with a copy of the petition attached. The summons shall be directed to the minor's parent, guardian or legal custodian and to each person named as a respondent in the petition, except that summons need not be directed (i) to a minor respondent under 8 years of age for whom the court appoints a guardian ad litem if the guardian ad litem appears on behalf of the minor in any proceeding under this Act, or (ii) to a parent who does not reside with the minor, does not make regular child support payments to the minor, to the minor's other parent, or to the minor's legal guardian or custodian pursuant to a support order, and has not communicated with the minor on a regular basis.

* * *

(3) Once jurisdiction has been established over a party, further service is not required and notice of any subsequent proceedings in that prosecution shall be made in accordance with provisions of Section 5-530.

(4) The appearance of the minor's parent, guardian or legal custodian, or a person named as a respondent in a petition, in any proceeding under this Act shall constitute a waiver of service and submission to the jurisdiction of the court. A copy of the petition shall be provided to the person at the time of his or her appearance." (Emphases added.) 705 ILCS 405/5-525(1), (3), (4) (West 2004).

"§ 5-530. Notice.

(1) A party presenting a supplemental or amended petition or motion to the court shall provide the other parties with a copy of any supplemental or amended petition, motion or accompanying affidavit not yet served upon that party, and shall file proof of that service, in accordance with subsections (2), (3), and (4) of this Section. Written notice of the date, time and place of the hearing, shall be provided to all parties in accordance with local court rules." (Emphases added.) 705 ILCS 405/5-530 (West 2004).

As a threshold matter, we decline the State's invitation to engage in a discussion of the status of M.W.'s parents — whether her father was or was not a "custodial parent," or whether her parents shared some sort of unofficial "joint custody." Section 5-525(1)(a) unequivocally requires that a summons be directed to the minor's parents with only one exception. Summons need not be directed to "a parent who does not reside with the minor, does not make regular child support payments to the minor, to the minor's other parent, or to the minor's legal guardian or custodian pursuant to a support order, and has not communicated with the minor on a

905 N.E.2d 765

regular basis." (Emphasis added.) 705 ILCS 405/5-525(1)(a) (West 2004).

M.W.'s parents were never married and the question of her legal custody has not been adjudicated. She lives with her mother. The record does not reveal whether her father contributes to her support or whether there is a support order in place. The testimony at the dispositional hearing, however, reveals that M.W. has a close relationship, including frequent visitation, with her father. The exception in section 5-525(1)(a), therefore, does not apply to her father.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

At oral argument, counsel for the minor conceded that the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter before it. We must, however, address the appellate...

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