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People v. Sleezer





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Kendall County; the Hon. JAMES F. QUETSCH, Judge, presiding.


The defendant was charged with violation of section 3 (licenses) and section 5(A) (requiring inspections) of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 56 1/2, pars. 303 and 305(A)). He was convicted and fined $1,000 on each charge.

The defendant contends in this appeal that the court erred in denying his motions to dismiss the complaints for failure to comply with section 19.1 of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 56 1/2, par. 319.1) and in denying his motion to suppress certain statements elicited in violation of Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602.

He also contends he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of knowingly violating the licensing provision (section 3) or the inspection provision (section 5(A)) of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act.

Section 19.1 of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act provides as follows:

"Each State's Attorney to whom the Director reports any violations of this Act, shall cause appropriate proceedings to be instituted in the proper courts> without delay and to be prosecuted in the manner provided by law. Before any violation of this Act is reported to any State's Attorney for the institution of a criminal proceeding, the person against whom such proceeding is contemplated shall be given appropriate notice and an opportunity to present his views before the Director or his designated agent, either orally or in writing, in person or by attorney, with regard to such contemplated proceeding." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 56 1/2, par. 319.1.

For an appreciation of the issue raised by the defendant under this section of the Act, it is necessary to relate the developments immediately preceding and following the defendant's arrest.

George Snyder, an inspector with the Department of Agriculture, testified at the defendant's trial that he had conducted an unobserved surveillance of the defendant's farm on July 2, 1974, and again on July 7, apparently in connection with suspected violations of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act. On July 12, Snyder applied to the Kendall County State's Attorney for a search warrant to search defendant's farm premises, which search warrant was granted. Armed with this search warrant Snyder and another inspector employed by the Department of Agriculture, accompanied by two Illinois State police officers and four newspaper reporters, went to defendant's farm on Saturday, July 13, for the purpose of executing the search warrant and developing evidence with regard to suspected violations of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act. This was the first contact of a representative of the Department of Agriculture with the defendant. An Illinois State trooper, Officer Bolerjack, in full uniform and armed, served the defendant with a copy of the search warrant when the party arrived at the farm. Inspector Snyder then told the defendant they had come to inspect the premises "for apparent violations of the Meat and Poultry Act." The defendant agreed to show the party around the farm. While they were walking around the farm making their inspection, Mr. Snyder asked the defendant questions about his operation and testified in court that the defendant "answered everything we, you know, that we asked him." Prior to the questioning defendant had not been advised by anyone of his right to remain silent, that his answers could be used against him in a court, or that he had a right to consult with an attorney before answering any questions asked by the Department of Agriculture employees.

Snyder testified at the trial that during the inspection of the premises he told the defendant he thought "there was some apparent violations of the law" and that the defendant said he "did not desire to be licensed with our department because he could not operate on the same basis on which he was operating." Snyder testified that the defendant did not ask for a hearing at that time and he [Snyder] did not feel it was necessary to offer a hearing under these circumstances. The defendant testified he did not tell Snyder that he did not want to be licensed as a livestock slaughterer and that Snyder never at any time informed him he had a right to a hearing.

After making a thorough search of the premises and taking pictures — which indicated that slaughtering was going on at defendant's premises — the inspectors left the premises without making any arrest.

On the following Monday, July 15, Snyder went to the Kendall County State's Attorney's office and applied for arrest warrants based on complaints reciting certain violations of the Food and Drugs Act, including the two charges of which the defendant was later convicted.

Prior to trial defense counsel moved to suppress any oral statements or admissions made by the defendant to the Department of Agriculture inspectors on the occasion of their inspection of his farm, on the ground that such statements were elicited from the defendant in violation of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602. The motion was denied and is one of the bases of appeal here. The defendant also moved to dismiss the charges because of a violation of section 19.1 of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act, cited above. This motion was also denied and is another basis of appeal.

Regarding the Miranda question, we do not believe the situation here comes within the spirit and intent of the cases wherein statements or confessions have been suppressed for failure to comply with the strictures of Miranda. That case clearly dealt with custodial interrogation and we do not consider that the defendant here was in custody or under restraint in any way during the conversation he had with Snyder and his associate, Kettlecamp, while he was walking around the farm with them. It is true, of course, that an armed police officer served the search warrant and was present, at least in the background, during the inspection of the premises. Testimony of the police officer, Bolerjack, however, indicates that he and his fellow officers played no part whatsoever in the questioning of the defendant and did not intrude in any way in the conversation. Bolerjack testified he had no direct conversation with the defendant except at the outset, when he asked the defendant if he was Charles Sleezer, and upon receiving an affirmative answer, served him with the search warrant. Otherwise, he testified, he took no part in the conversation and remembered only a part of it, as he was taking pictures of the premises while Snyder was talking with the defendant. The defendant was walking around his own fairly extensive premises during the conversation with Snyder and his colleague, showing them the various operations of the farm. As Snyder testified there was no thought at that time of arresting the defendant. Officer Bolerjack testified no Miranda warnings were given the defendant because he was not being arrested. Under these circumstances we think the failure of Snyder or Officer Bolerjack to give the defendant Miranda warnings was logical and Miranda warnings were not required or even appropriate.

The defendant cites the case of People v. Baugh (1974), 19 Ill. App.3d 448, as supporting his contention as to the necessity of Miranda warnings under the circumstances of the case before us. In Baugh, however, the defendant had first been arrested and taken to jail on a charge of theft and forgery. The authorities called one Shonkwiler, attorney for the victim, and said the defendant had to be identified. Shonkwiler replied that he could not identify the defendant, but the victim, Miss Tatman, could. Due to weather conditions and Miss Tatman being 93 years old, the defendant was taken to her residence by the police officers, together with two other men who were with the defendant when he was arrested. Miss Tatman immediately identified the defendant as the perpetrator of the forgery and Shonkwiler then showed him a certain check involved in the forgery which the defendant admitted he had endorsed and cashed at the local bank. Shonkwiler also asked if the defendant could make restitution and the defendant answered he possibly could do so. The defendant was indicted for theft and deceptive practices and moved to suppress the inculpatory statements made to attorney Shonkwiler in the presence of ...

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