People v. Austin M., No. 111194.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtJustice BURKE delivered the judgment of the court
Citation975 N.E.2d 22,363 Ill.Dec. 220,2012 IL 111194
Docket NumberNo. 111194.
Decision Date30 August 2012
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. AUSTIN M., a Minor, Appellant.

2012 IL 111194
975 N.E.2d 22
363 Ill.Dec.
220

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
v.
AUSTIN M., a Minor, Appellant.

No. 111194.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

Aug. 30, 2012.


[975 N.E.2d 24]


Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Karen Munoz, Deputy Defender, and Jacqueline L. Bullard, Assistant Appellate Defender, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, of Springfield, for appellant.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Springfield, and Matthew Fitton, State's Attorney, of Paxton (Michael A. Scodro, Solicitor General, and Michael M. Glick and Erin M. O'Connell, Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, of counsel), for the People.


Cathryn Crawford, of Chicago, for amicus curiae Children and Family Justice Center.

Marsha Levik, Riya Saha Shah and Tiffany Price, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for amicus curiae Juvenile Law Center.

Bruce A. Boyer, of Chicago, for amicus curiae Loyola Civitas ChildLaw Center.

Mary Ann Scali and Nadia Seeratan, of Washington, D.C., for amicus curiae National Juvenile Defender Center.

OPINION

Justice BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

[363 Ill.Dec. 222]¶ 1 Austin M. was adjudicated a delinquent minor after he was found guilty of the offense of criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12–15 (West 2006) (now 720 ILCS 5/11–1.50(b))). Austin appealed his adjudication and the appellate court affirmed, with one justice dissenting. 403 Ill.App.3d 667, 347 Ill.Dec. 34, 941 N.E.2d 903.

¶ 2 We granted Austin's petition for leave to appeal. Before this court, Austin raises four issues: (1) whether the legal representation he received at his delinquency trial amounted to a denial of his right to counsel as guaranteed by the Juvenile Court Act and by the due process clauses of the United States and Illinois constitutions; (2) whether he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney labored under a per se and/or actual conflict of interest; (3) whether he received ineffective assistance of counsel because of certain acts and omissions by his attorney; and (4) whether he was proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

¶ 3 For reasons that follow, we reverse the judgments of the courts below.

¶ 4 I. Background

¶ 5 In August 2006, Ford County State's Attorney Anthony Lee filed delinquency petitions against Ricky M., age 15, and Austin M., age 16, charging them with misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse. It [363 Ill.Dec. 223]

[975 N.E.2d 25]

was alleged in the petitions that between July 14, 2005, and July 14, 2006, Ricky and Austin had engaged in acts of fellatio and had fondled the sex organs of each other and two boys, Dillon L.,1 age 10, and Jonathon L., age 12, who had been foster children living in the M. family foster home. Ricky and Austin were tried at a joint delinquency trial, which commenced on January 19, 2007, and was continued to April 3, 2007. The boys' parents, James (Jim) and Rebecca (Becky) M., hired an attorney to represent both Ricky and Austin at trial.

¶ 6 At a September 25, 2006, pretrial hearing, the court inquired whether the attorney whom Mr. and Mrs. M. had hired was appearing on behalf of the boys as well as the parents. The attorney replied, “I think the minors, Judge.” The court then admonished Mr. and Mrs. M. as follows:

“At this point, [the attorney] is entering an appearance for your sons only. So, he represents them and does not represent you. He represents what's in the best interest of these Minors, which may or may not be what the Minors or the parents think is in their best interest.”

¶ 7 The court also admonished the parents that, if the allegations in the delinquency petitions against their sons were proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the boys could be placed on probation, removed from the home and placed in a public or private facility, or committed to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Corrections. The court then asked:

“Any questions regarding the basic rights of these proceedings, Mr. and Mrs. [M.]?”

¶ 8 Trial began on January 19, 2007. At the outset of trial, the boys' attorney made a statement to the court, explaining his reasons for simultaneously representing both respondents. He also informed the court of his decision to permit the State to present videotaped statements of the alleged victims, Jonathon and Dillon, and a third foster child, Willie C., age 5, in lieu of live courtroom testimony. He stated:

“I have procedural points—I agreed to proceeding, and I think in a unique, at least, a new way in one respect or two respects—and I wanted to explain my decisions on the record and explain why I believe that's in my client's [ sic ] best interest.

THE COURT: That's fine.

[Defense Counsel]: Yeah, I had, Judge. I first of all have agreed with Mr. Lee [the prosecutor] to proceed. We have three witnesses that are children; Willie [C.], Jonathon [L.] and Dillon [L.], and I have agreed with Mr. Lee that I am going to not oppose their testimony by way of video tape, Judge, a couple video tapes made in July, and one made in October I believe.

I am comfortable doing that in this case. I say that there—I want to make it clear; my clients have consistently denied the allegations that are being made by these complaints and to the extent—with one exception. There was a claim on the admission on the part of Austin, which we dispute, but they have denied this. This is a contested hearing.

Nevertheless, this is a juvenile hearing. I have talked this over pretty carefully with my clients, as well as with their parents, and I been [ sic ] a lawyer for nearly 30 years, and I am comfortable with this in this case because we [363 Ill.Dec. 224]

[975 N.E.2d 26]

want to know the truth is ultimately the view of the parents. If something along the nature of these allegations, which are acts of sexual penetration involving children here, but my clients are 15 and 16 years old and the victims are 10 and 12 years old at the time. And I think our, at that time, attitude is we have grave doubts these things occurred.

The boys deny they occurred, but I think the parents and I agree—I think with Mr. Lee as well—that if such acts happened, then it needs to stop. An intervention is not inappropriate by way of government to help these boys if such things happened. You know, so. We are on the same page, and we don't want to cause trauma to anybody. I have a duty to these two boys, nobody else. But we are, we are not—we are seeking the truth this here [ sic ] the same as the Court and the same as the prosecutor is our position. And I am comfortable with proceeding by way of the video tape as opposed to requiring these young children to come into Court at this hearing, and obviously there is pluses and minuses, I suppose, for both sides. We are giving up our right to confront these witnesses in Court.

THE COURT: I assume, that's the case. There is no cross-examination by you.

[Defense Counsel]: No, there won't be. And we dispute their allegations.

THE COURT: I understand.

[Defense Counsel]: And on the other hand, Mr. Lee is giving up the ability to have live testimony which tends to be more persuasive than video tape. Bottomline, I am comfortable with it. The other decision that I made here, Judge, that I want everybody to be clear on, and I want to explain, is I am representing two clients here, and ordinarily, if this were an adult case—I cannot imagine—it is extremely rare I would contest a hearing attempting to represent two individual clients that deserve the benefit of individual representation, separate consideration, and the allegations are kind of—they are pretty widespread.

We are talking about a year's period of time and talking about different possible alleged acts of different kinds. Nevertheless, I think in a juvenile hearing where it is a misdemeanor allegation, where it is a judge proceeding as opposed to a jury proceeding, I am fully capable of handling this, and where I believe the—I don't view such a proceeding as adversarial as it might be if it were an adult case.

I view this as a truth-seeking process on all parts. I explained this to the parents, I think they are comfortable with me being a lawyer for both kids. They agree it is in the best interest and beneficial to everybody that I continue to represent both, but I wanted to say that on the record, Judge.

Now, if the Court or prosecutor has any problem with me doing that, you know, I am ready to hear thoughts. I am comfortable with being a lawyer for both and comfortable with proceeding with the testimony by way of video tape. Thank You.”

¶ 9 The boys' attorney also informed the court that, in exchange for permitting the prosecution to present videotaped statements of the three foster children, the State had agreed to ask for a sentence of probation rather than commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice, in the event that the boys be found guilty. The court asked Jim and Becky M. if they understood this compromise, but did not consult Austin or Ricky.

¶ 10 The matter then proceeded to trial. The State presented two live witnesses, Sergeant Robert Yates, a police officer in [363 Ill.Dec. 225]

[975 N.E.2d 27]

the Paxton police department, and Sheree Foley, a child protective investigator with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Urbana, Illinois. The only other evidence presented was the videotapes of Sheree Foley's interviews of Dillon, Jonathon and Willie.

¶ 11 The first witness was Sergeant Yates, who testified that he became involved in this case when Sheree Foley, a DCFS worker, came to the Paxton police station on July 14, 2006, and informed him of her investigation into a report of sexual abuse. Yates said he and another officer, Captain Cornett, accompanied Foley to the foster home where the abuse allegedly took place. Foley removed two foster children who were living there, Jonathon L., age 12, and Willie C., age 5, and brought them to the Paxton police station. Yates testified that, after Foley interviewed Jonathon and Willie, the Paxton...

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46 practice notes
  • People v. Deroo, Appeal No. 3-17-0163
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • May 20, 2020
    ...292 Ill.Dec. 926, 827 N.E.2d 455 (2005). The reviewing court will not retry the defendant. People v. Austin M. , 2012 IL 111194, ¶ 107, 363 Ill.Dec. 220, 975 N.E.2d 22. Determinations of witness credibility, the weight to be given testimony, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn from th......
  • People v. Sullivan, No. 3–12–0312.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 26, 2014
    ...the conflict adversely affected counsel's performance to obtain a reversal and new trial. People v. Austin M., 2012 IL 111194, ¶ 82, 363 Ill.Dec. 220, 975 N.E.2d 22. With a per se conflict of interest, however, the defendant need not establish such an adverse effect, because such a conflict......
  • O.S. v. O.S., No. 1–17–1765
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 26, 2018
    ...doubt." ’ " In re Q.P. , 2015 IL 118569, ¶ 24, 396 Ill.Dec. 356, 40 N.E.3d 9 (quoting People v. Austin M. , 2012 IL 111194, ¶ 107, 363 Ill.Dec. 220, 975 N.E.2d 22, quoting In re Jonathon C.B. , 2011 IL 107750, ¶ 47, 354 Ill.Dec. 484, 958 N.E.2d 227 ). Because the trier of fact is in the bes......
  • People v. Nelson, No. 1-15-1960
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 31, 2020
    ...sufficiency of the evidence to ensure that double jeopardy does not prevent his retrial. See People v. Austin M. , 2012 IL 111194, ¶, 363 Ill.Dec. 220, 975 N.E.2d 22 106. We have just explained above that the evidence of causation was sufficient, if only barely. But defendant offers an enti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
45 cases
  • People v. Deroo, Appeal No. 3-17-0163
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • May 20, 2020
    ...292 Ill.Dec. 926, 827 N.E.2d 455 (2005). The reviewing court will not retry the defendant. People v. Austin M. , 2012 IL 111194, ¶ 107, 363 Ill.Dec. 220, 975 N.E.2d 22. Determinations of witness credibility, the weight to be given testimony, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn from th......
  • People v. Sullivan, No. 3–12–0312.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 26, 2014
    ...the conflict adversely affected counsel's performance to obtain a reversal and new trial. People v. Austin M., 2012 IL 111194, ¶ 82, 363 Ill.Dec. 220, 975 N.E.2d 22. With a per se conflict of interest, however, the defendant need not establish such an adverse effect, because such a conflict......
  • O.S. v. O.S., No. 1–17–1765
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 26, 2018
    ...doubt." ’ " In re Q.P. , 2015 IL 118569, ¶ 24, 396 Ill.Dec. 356, 40 N.E.3d 9 (quoting People v. Austin M. , 2012 IL 111194, ¶ 107, 363 Ill.Dec. 220, 975 N.E.2d 22, quoting In re Jonathon C.B. , 2011 IL 107750, ¶ 47, 354 Ill.Dec. 484, 958 N.E.2d 227 ). Because the trier of fact is in the bes......
  • People v. Nelson, No. 1-15-1960
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 31, 2020
    ...sufficiency of the evidence to ensure that double jeopardy does not prevent his retrial. See People v. Austin M. , 2012 IL 111194, ¶, 363 Ill.Dec. 220, 975 N.E.2d 22 106. We have just explained above that the evidence of causation was sufficient, if only barely. But defendant offers an enti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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