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City of Belleville v. Watts

OPINION FILED MAY 12, 1978.

THE CITY OF BELLEVILLE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JAY M. WATTS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. RICHARD P. GOLDENHERSH, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GEORGE J. MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of St. Clair County finding him guilty of violating a speeding ordinance of the city of Belleville.

He contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the proceedings against him which motion was presented by the defendant on the date the traffic ticket issued to him directed him to appear. He relied on Supreme Court Rule 504 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 110A, par. 504) and section 16-106 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 95 1/2, par. 16-106).

On March 6, 1977, the defendant was issued a traffic ticket by the city of Belleville police department charging him with violation of a local ordinance regulating the speed of motor vehicles on city streets. The ticket directed him to report to the St. Clair County Circuit Court on or before March 24, 1977, to answer the charge against him.

The defendant appeared in court on March 24, 1977, as directed by the appearance date on the traffic ticket and complaint and entered his plea of not guilty. At that time he also demanded a trial on the merits to be held on that date, March 24, 1977, as is provided in Supreme Court Rule 504. Neither the plaintiff city of Belleville nor the arresting officer was present in court on March 24, 1977. The defendant then moved the court to dismiss the charge against him. The defendant's motion to dismiss was denied by the court by an order entered April 6, 1977.

The cause proceeded to trial before the court on May 6, 1977, at which time the defendant renewed his motion to dismiss. The motion was again denied and after hearing evidence, the court found the defendant guilty and assessed a find of $25 and costs of court.

Supreme Court Rule 504 provides:

"The date set by the arresting officer for a defendant's appearance in court shall be not less than 10 days but within 45 days after the date of the arrest, whenever practicable. It is the policy of this court that an accused who appears and pleads `not guilty' to an alleged traffic or conservation offense should be granted a trial on the merits on the appearance date set by the arresting officer. Except as provided in Rule 505, an arresting officer's failure to appear on that date, in and of itself, shall not normally be considered good cause for a continuance." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 110A, par. 504.

At the time of the proceedings in the trial court Supreme Court Rule 505 applied only to the issuance of tickets by the Illinois State Police so the language "[e]xcept as provided in Rule 505" contained in the last sentence of Rule 504 has no application to this case.

Section 16-106 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 95 1/2, par. 16-106) provides:

"[Notice to accused concerning multiple court appearances.] For offenses committed under the provisions of this Act or the ordinances of any municipality or park district which involve the regulation of the ownership, use or operation of vehicles, the police officers * * * of such municipalities * * * shall, when issuing a traffic ticket, * * * in counties other than Cook, also issue written notice to the accused in substantially the following form:

Avoid Multiple Court Appearances

If you intend to plead `not guilty' to this charge, or if, in addition, you intend to demand a trial by jury, so notify the clerk of the court at least 5 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays or holidays) before the day set for your appearance. A new appearance date will be set, and arrangements will be made to have the arresting officer present on that new date. Failure to notify the clerk of either your intention to plead `not guilty' or your intention to demand a jury trial, may result in your having to return to court, if you plead `not guilty' on the date originally set for your court appearance. Upon timely receipt of notice that the accused intends to plead `not guilty', the clerk shall set a new appearance date not less than 7 days nor more than 49 days after the original appearance date set by the arresting officer, and notify all parties of the new date and the time for appearance. If the accused fails to notify the clerk as provided above, the arresting officer's failure to appear on the date originally set for appearance may, in counties other than Cook, be considered good cause for a continuance."

The only question presented in this case is whether the trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to dismiss on the appearance ...


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