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City of O'fallon v. Reynolds

DECEMBER 13, 1971.

THE CITY OF O'FALLON, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

FREDIC DALE REYNOLDS ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. JAMES F. WHEATLEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE EBERSPACHER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal by the defendant Reynolds from a conviction of violations of Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 95 1/2, par. 6-101, driving without a valid license, and par. 11-1404, operating a motorcycle without protective eyeglasses, and from a judgment denying the return of bond money paid by the defendant's grandmother, pursuant to Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 38, par. 110-8, and applied to the payment of the defendant's fine.

The appellants argue that the conviction was improper because the City of O'Fallon could not be the proper party plaintiff in a prosecution based upon the violation of a state statute and that the trial court erred in refusing to refund a cash bail posted by a party, other than the defendant, and in applying that cash bail to payment of the defendant's fine.

The City of O'Fallon's failure to file a brief in this case would be sufficient for reversal of the judgments below. However, since serious questions are raised in this appeal, we will consider the arguments presented.

• 1 In determining the first issue, it will be necessary to examine the record in order to ascertain whether the City of O'Fallon was the plaintiff in the prosecution of the defendant.

The defendant was arrested by an O'Fallon police officer, who prepared Illinois Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint forms charging violations of § 6-101 and 11-1404 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Law and styled "State of Illinois, County of St. Clair, and Village of O'Fallon".

Later, pursuant to a motion for appointment of counsel, the court determined that the defendant was an indigent and appointed counsel, other than the counsel on this appeal. The motion and order were both styled "People of the State of Illinois v. Fredic Dale Reynolds".

At a bench trial, the defendant was not represented by counsel, pleaded guilty, and was fined. On the same day, the defendant's grandmother made her request for the return of the bond money, and the record indicates the motion was argued and overruled. The order of the trial judge is styled "City of O'Fallon v. Fredic Dale Reynolds" and the record indicates the City of O'Fallon was represented by the city attorney.

The defendant and his grandmother made motions for a new trial on the conviction and for a rehearing on the return of the cash bail, styled "City of O'Fallon v. Fredic Dale Reynolds and Dorothy Cullon". The court's order overruling the motions is styled "City of O'Fallon v. Fredic Dale Reynolds".

The certification of the common law record refers to the case as City of O'Fallon v. Fredic Dale Reynolds & Dorothy Cullon, Surety. The Report of Proceedings on the motions for a new trial and for rehearing refer to the case as City of O'Fallon, plaintiff, v. Fredic Dale Reynolds, defendant, and Dorothy Cullon, surety, and list the city attorney as representing the plaintiff.

It would appear from the record that the City of O'Fallon was the plaintiff and prosecuted the action through the city attorney.

• 2 Having determined that the City of O'Fallon was the plaintiff in this case, we must determine whether a municipal corporation can be the proper party plaintiff in an action based on a violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code.

In Rockford v. Watson (2d Dist. 1969), 108 Ill. App.2d 146, 246 N.E.2d 458, the court reversed a conviction under the Illinois Vehicle Code, when the defendant was arrested within the city limits of Rockford, charged by way of an Illinois Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint, and prosecuted in a bench trial before a magistrate by the city attorney. The case was styled "City of Rockford v. Watson".

The city argued that the repeal of the former judicial article, which had provided specifically that all prosecutions shall be in the name of and by the authority of the People of the State of Illinois, left a void which has not been filled by implementing legislation and that this void was intentional in order that ...


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