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Juvenile Caselaw Summary

Thanks to the creative, tireless efforts of juvenile defenders in Illinois and across the country, dozens of cases over the past decade have clawed back the failed tough-on-crime approaches of the 1990s and improved the lives of our clients. But there’s still much to accomplish. So in addition to supporting your work in individual cases, we hope these Summaries will inspire even greater reforms. Think something is unfair, but there’s no case law directly on point? Congratulations! Consider yourself unconstrained by precedent. Find a case that seems to sink a theory you know in your bones is right? Don’t be discouraged. Brainstorming and discussion of legal issues with other juvenile defenders is one of the best ways to discover ways around bad case law. (Practitioner’s Tip: Bad cases before the mid-90s are almost always distinguishable because the Juvenile Court Act was less punitive then.) Call each other. Post your query on the
JDRC Discussion Forum. Give us a call at 217-558-4606 or shoot us an email at

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The Summaries currently include all Illinois cases involving youth in delinquency or adult court beginning January 1, 2018, with the following exceptions: 1) delinquency cases where no juvenile-specific issues were addressed, and 2) pre-Buffer cases that attempted to define de facto life, unless those cases have independent significance.

The Summaries also include a handful of older seminal cases, including select Illinois cases and the United States Supreme Court opinions that have driven the recent revolution in juvenile law. Over time, additional older cases and new topics will be added to the Summaries.

In order to ensure free access to the full opinions described in the Summaries, each case description contains a hyperlink to that decision on the Illinois Supreme Court’s website.

Cases are organized by topic in the chronological order in which they’re likely to occur. And you’ll find several cases that fall under more than one category. For ease of navigation, each topic listed in the Table of Contents is hyperlinked to that section of the Summaries.

When multiple cases share the same last name, the first name is included in the case citations for the sake of clarity. Juvenile case law can evolve quickly. Cases that are no longer good law will move to the Archives folder and be flagged as such. And once a sufficient body of case law develops on a particular topic, only the most recent cases will have full descriptions. Older cases will appear as “see also” cites in the Summaries, and the full case descriptions will move to Archives.

Looking for adult or older juvenile cases? Visit OSAD's Criminal Law Handbook and Digests.


JDRC CASE LAW SUMMARIES ARE ONLY AVAILABLE TO JDRC MEMBERS. Membership is free and open to any licensed attorney who advocates for youth. FOR MORE DETAILS CLICK HERE.  Attorneys involved in any way, directly or indirectly, with law enforcement, prosecution, court services, or the judiciary are not eligible for JDRC membership. CLICK HERE TO ENROLL.


Case Law Summaries