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Criminal Law FLASHPOINTS March 2024

Matthew R. Leisten, Ogle County State’s Attorney’s Office, Oregon
815-732-1170 | E-mail Matthew R. Leisten

Trial Court’s Oral Ruling and Written Findings Sufficiently Apprised Defendant of Court’s Reasoning

In People v. Adino-Acosta, 2024 IL App (2d) 230463, the Second District Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s use of preprinted forms in conjunction with oral rulings when granting petitions to deny pretrial release on defendants.

In Adino-Acosta, the defendant was charged with domestic battery offenses. The state filed a petition to detain and hold him. The state proffered the circumstances of the arrest, which showed allegations of choking, calling a friend to bring over a gun, and locking himself in a house with children when the police arrived. A pretrial services report showed that the defendant had a pending DUI. 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶¶4 – 5. The trial court orally ruled that it expressed concern about the allegations and stated that court orders and orders of protection were not “bullet proof.” 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶6. The trial court orally pronounced that the proof was evident and presumption great, based on clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant committed the offense and no condition or combination of conditions could protect the victim. 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶6.

The trial court granted the petition to detain and used a preprinted form’s findings that the proof was evident or presumption great that the defendant committed a qualifying offense, that no condition or combination of conditions could mitigate the real and present threat to the safety of any person, and that less restrictive conditions would not assure safety to the community. Id.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s granting of the petition to detain and the use of a preprinted form for the trial court’s written ruling. The appellate court noted that the trial court’s written findings were conclusory; however, the appellate court concluded that the preprinted form, along with the trial court’s oral ruling, complied with 725 ILCS 5/110-6.1(h)’s requirement that a trial court summarize its written findings. 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶¶13, 19.

The appellate court pointed to the Illinois Supreme Court’s holding in In re Madison H., 215 Ill.2d 364, 830 N.E.2d 439, 294 Ill.Dec. 86 (2005), in which the Supreme Court held that oral findings could satisfy the Juvenile Court Act’s requirement that trial courts put into writing the factual basis for determining whether parents or guardians were unfit or unable or unwilling to care for a minor in abuse and neglect cases. 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶14. The Supreme Court explained in Madison H. that the purpose of the written requirement was to give notice of the trial court’s reasoning and preserve that reasoning for appeal and that oral findings were sufficient for the statute. 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶14, citing Madison H, supra.

The appellate court therefore found that Madison H.’s reasoning applied to the Pretrial Fairness Act, 725 ILCS 5/110-1, et seq. 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶14. The appellate court ultimately held that explicit and individualized oral rulings can satisfy §110-6.1(h)(1) and that written findings must be read in conjunction with oral pronouncements. 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶19.

In the present case, the trial court’s oral ruling satisfied the standard of an explicit and individualized ruling as it complied with the statutory factors. 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶¶20 – 21. The oral ruling, when read together with the written findings, was sufficient to give notice to the defendant about the trial court’s ruling and accommodate appellate review. 2024 IL App (2d) 230463 at ¶22.

For more information about criminal law, see MOTOR VEHICLE VIOLATIONS (IICLE®, 2024). Online Library subscribers can view it for free by clicking here. If you don’t currently subscribe to the Online Library, visit www.iicle.com/subscriptions.

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