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Village of Bridgeview v. Slominski

OPINION FILED JUNE 29, 1979.

THE VILLAGE OF BRIDGEVIEW, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

EDWARD SLOMINSKI, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES GRIFFIN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WILSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a bench trial, defendant was found guilty of violating certain ordinances of the Village of Bridgeview which involved maintaining uncovered refuse (ch. 8, § 7-8-3) and maintaining a nuisance (inoperable motor vehicles) (ch. 10, § 10-10-4). Defendant was fined $500 and court costs for each violation. On appeal defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the motion to suppress evidence obtained from an alleged illegal search was improperly denied; (2) whether the Village of Bridgeview sustained its burden of proof; and (3) whether the ordinances involved are unconstitutional. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

Prior to the suppression hearing, defendant filed a motion to declare the ordinances unconstitutional and the motion was denied. The pertinent evidence adduced at the suppression hearing and the trial follows.

HEARING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS PHOTOGRAPHS

On direct examination, Officer Anthony Siciliano of the Bridgeview Police Department testified that on June 17, 1975, he and Ed Nagle, an environmental officer of Bridgeview, appeared at 8027 S. Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview, Illinois, for the purpose of inspecting the premises. The inspection was based upon the receipt of numerous complaints regarding the condition of the premises. Siciliano did not have a search warrant nor a warrant for defendant's arrest on this occasion. He described the property as consisting of a house and a tavern, both of which face Harlem Avenue. Prior to entering the premises Siciliano observed what he described as "refuse, junk vehicles and garbage" located on the front and side of the house as well as the side of the tavern. He described the vehicles as consisting of two trucks, approximately 20 years old, without license plates and "loaded with storage of stuff that sells at flea markets." He further stated that the merchandise appeared to be rotting and that he had seen the vehicles with the same merchandise inside of them for the past ten years. He then proceeded to inspect the vehicles more closely but did not touch anything. When questioned as to whether anyone had invited him onto the premises, Siciliano replied, "No, sir. He sells stuff. It's more like a public place." Prior to taking photographs of the premises, however, Siciliano stated that he requested permission to do so and an individual, whom he did not identify, replied that he could take as many photographs as he wished. He then proceeded to inspect the entire premises.

On cross-examination Siciliano stated that defendant's property had been annexed to the village since 1967 and that the Guildish Mobile Park, which housed approximately 1200 to 1500 residents, was located directly south of this property. He further stated that the objects he observed on the day in question were in plain view and that on previous occasions these objects had been observed in plain view from nearby property.

On direct examination defendant Edward Slominski testified that he did not give Siciliano his permission to enter the premises, nor to inspect the trucks or to take photographs. There was no cross-examination of defendant. Subsequently, defendant's motion to suppress was denied.

TRIAL OF UNCOVERED REFUSE AND NUISANCE CHARGES

On direct examination Siciliano testified that he has been employed as an officer of the Bridgeview Police Department for 17 years and as an ordinance enforcement officer for 5 years. His duties consist of handling all complaints received by the department regarding vehicles, garbage, fences, and other ordinance violations. He stated that on June 17, 1975, he went to 8027 S. Harlem Ave. in Bridgeview, for the purpose of serving defendant a summons. He walked into the tavern and proceeded to serve defendant with the summons, when defendant took the summons and threw it back at him. Siciliano picked it up and placed it on the bar. He then walked out of the tavern, got his camera, and proceeded to take photographs. Nagle was also present at this time. The photographs were admitted into evidence subject to cross-examination. Siciliano further stated that he had a conversation with defendant, in Nagle's presence, concerning the condition of the premises. His testimony was as follows:

"The Witness: On the date in question [Y]our Honor, I had [sic] talked to Mr. Slominski in regards to cleaning his property. He advised me he had [sic] been there 29 years. He's not in the Village of Bridgeview and he's not going to clean up, that the Village of Bridgeview took him in without his knowledge."

On cross-examination Siciliano stated that he had known defendant for 18 years and that the summons he attempted to serve defendant was an order for him to appear in court regarding the refuse and alleged inoperable motor vehicles on his property. He stated that he had the summons prior to taking the photographs. However, later he stated that "[t]he pictures were not taken after — the summons — they were taken two or three days — ." When questioned as to his previous testimony concerning his attempt to serve defendant with the summons, Siciliano replied that he could not recall what had occurred. He then stated that he saw inoperable motor vehicles, cars, trucks, and step-in vans on the premises. He made no attempt to start or jump the vehicles nor had he ever seen anyone place them there. However, later he stated that on prior occasions he had seen defendant place some of the photographed articles inside of the vehicles.

On direct examination defendant testified that he had known Siciliano prior to this incident because Siciliano had come to the premises on several occasions when he needed certain materials for the village. Defendant stated that on the day in question Siciliano appeared at the premises several times. On one occasion, defendant saw Siciliano and two other men walk onto the premises and proceed to the rear. On another occasion Siciliano returned with a summons for defendant and defendant told him that he needed a warrant in order to search the premises. Defendant stated that Siciliano became upset with him and that Siciliano had the police serve him with an arrest warrant. Thereafter, defendant was arrested.

Defendant then denied ever having been the licensee of the property. He stated that the inoperable motor vehicle shown in one of the photographs was the only one located on the premises on June 17 and that some kids had brought it there from the trailer park and had stripped it. The vehicle had been there for a few weeks or a few months. As far as he knew, the other vehicles on the property were not inoperative and in fact were operative when placed there.

There was no cross-examination of defendant. Both sides then rested. On October 27, 1977, defendant was found guilty of both charges and he was fined $500 and court costs for each violation. A motion to vacate was entered and continued to December 29, 1977. The court stipulated that the motion would be granted if the premises were ...


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