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NIU Law professor testifies before Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee

July 18, 2016
Paul J. Cain

Paul J. Cain

NIU College of Law Clinical Professor Paul J. Cain testified on July 8, 2016 at a public hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee in support of Proposal 15-05, which would modify Supreme Court Rule 941 and create Supreme Court Rule 943 (Use of Restraints on a Minor in Delinquency Proceedings Arising Under the Juvenile Court Act).

He was joined in testifying in support of the proposed rules by NIU Law alumnus and president of the Illinois State Bar Association, Vincent Cornelius (’89).

Also testifying were the Hon. Elizabeth Robb, retired chief judge from the 11th Judicial Circuit Court; and Eugene Griffin, a clinical psychologist and attorney who is a member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.

Under the holding of In re Staley, juveniles should not be shackled during adjudication hearings determining the juvenile’s guilt or innocence unless necessary for reasons of safety or flight risk. There are no guidelines in either the rules or case law for judges to follow for juveniles appearing before the court when it is not an adjudication hearing. The proposed Rule 943 would provide that guidance to judges. It prohibits the use of restraints on a minor in any proceeding in juvenile court absent specific findings of fact and an opportunity to be heard.

The proposed rule is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois; the Children and Family Justice Center of Northwestern University School of Law; the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Juvenile Justice Initiative; the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (of which Professor Cain is first vice-president); the Illinois Justice Project and other juvenile justice reform advocacy groups.

Professor Cain testified that the use of shackles in juvenile courts is inconsistent throughout Illinois; in some counties, it is routinely done for all juveniles appearing from detention while in other counties it is not routine but the exception.

“Mental health experts agree that the shackling of juveniles when it is not necessary humiliates, stigmatizes and traumatizes them. It negates the rehabilitative mission of the juvenile court,” Cain said, adding that “shackles impair juveniles from assisting in their defense, and fully and meaningfully participating in court proceedings.”

Professor Cain’s testimony regarding the proposed rule was reported in the July 13, 2016, edition of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and the July 14, 2016, edition of the Illinois Times.