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People v. Briddle





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. JOHN L. HUGHES, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, John W. Briddle, was acquitted of the offense of speeding (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-601(b)) after a bench trial in the Circuit Court of Lake County. Briddle was subsequently indicted for perjury (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 32-2(a)), based on statements he made under oath in the speeding trial, and for obstruction of justice (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 31-4(a)) based on his alleged attempt to conceal a car rental agreement which would have been offered as evidence of his perjury. The indictment was dismissed by the trial court on the ground the prosecution of these charges was barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel; the State appeals.

While the record does not include a report of proceedings of the trial of the speeding charge, it does contain summaries of a State's Attorney investigator's interviews of persons who had been present at that trial including the judge, prosecutor, the arresting police officer and the court clerk. Associate Judge William D. Block, who presided at the speeding trial, also testified during the hearing of defendant's motion to dismiss the present charges and the interview summaries, except the judge's statement, were admitted in evidence at the hearing of the motion to dismiss by stipulation by the parties.

Defendant had been charged on February 10, 1978, with driving 75 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone. Testifying at the speeding trial held May 18, 1978, Officer Steve J. Junk said he clocked defendant's speed on radar, stopped the car and took defendant's driver's license from him. When defendant told the officer he was a county board member and late for an important meeting at the office of the forest preserve district, the officer followed him an unspecified distance to that office where he parked behind defendant's car, showed him the speed registered on the radar gun and wrote up the citation.

The citation correctly listed defendant's name, address and driver's license number and described his car as a 1978 silver Chevrolet, Illinois license plate number D/L 80E. Defendant accepted the ticket and signed his name and address to the back of it.

The statements by those who had been present during the trial of the speeding charge are in agreement that after Officer Junk testified defendant, appearing pro se and under oath, stated he was speeding or may have been speeding but asserted that he drove a green Cadillac on that day which did not bear dealer plates. When asked by the prosecutor if he had borrowed or rented a car on the day in question, defendant responded he had never driven a car with dealer plates, had never driven a silver Chevrolet and had not driven a Chevrolet in the last 15 years. Count I of the indictment returned against defendant alleged this testimony to be perjury.

Testifying at the hearing of defendant's motion to dismiss the perjury and obstruction charges, Judge Block described the speeding trial as follows:

"[A]fter Mr. Briddle had testified to his having driven a different car, I made a statement that I couldn't understand, I think the way I put it was I couldn't understand anyone of Mr. Briddle's intelligence committing cold and deliberate perjury about something that could be so easily checked.

* * *

I indicated since there was a disparity there as far as the testimony and since the State had the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, I felt there was enough question that I was not convinced that the State had proved him guilty, and found him not guilty.

The officer testified very specifically that Mr. Briddle had been driving a new model silver Chevrolet. Mr. Briddle was very specific. He was asked the question a number of times about driving his 1973 Cadillac and that he always drove the Cadillac and never borrowed or leased a Chevrolet on that date.

He was certain he was driving his Cadillac. I felt that there was some possibility at the time that since the officer did not write the ticket until he was at the Forest Preserve meeting that he may have pulled behind the wrong vehicle and written up the wrong car since the specific charge was speeding in a 1978, I believe it was, Chevrolet. That issue was not completely resolved to my satisfaction beyond a reasonable doubt."

Count II of the indictment alleged defendant to have obstructed justice in that he "with the intent to obstruct the prosecution of the said John W. Briddle for the offense of perjury, knowingly concealed physical evidence, namely a one-page document entitled CAR RENTAL AGREEMENT No. 2845, * * * which he obtained from Carriage Cadillac, Inc., Waukegan, Illinois, on May 18, 1978, in violation of [Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 31-4(a)]."

Upon conclusion of the hearing of defendant's motion to dismiss, the trial court granted it on the basis of People v. Ward (1978), 72 Ill.2d 379, 381 N.E.2d 256, and section 3-4(b)(2) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 3-4(b)(2)). The court determined that prosecution of the perjury and obstruction charges was collaterally estopped since Judge Block "took into consideration" the conflicting testimony as to what car defendant had been driving. The court concluded that as defendant's acquittal of the speeding charge was based upon an ...

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