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Perez v. Edgar





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.


Plaintiffs, Gladys Perez d/b/a Mexico Driving School and Pedro Vignettes, sought judicial review of the revocation by the Secretary of State of Perez' commercial driving school license and Vignettes' instructor's license. Revocation was based on a finding by the State, after a hearing, that plaintiffs violated an Illinois statute and a Secretary of State rule by permitting fraud and engaging in fraudulent practices, and by advertising a guarantee and contracting to guarantee a driver's license upon completion of the course. The trial court upheld the revocations. On appeal, plaintiffs contend that the hearing officer applied a lesser burden of proof than that required; that the charges were not proved by clear and convincing evidence; that the hearing officer admitted evidence acquired in violation of plaintiffs' constitutional rights; that the evidence failed to establish a violation of rule or statute; that it was error to impute to Perez the alleged fraud of Vignettes; and that the sanction of revocation was excessively harsh.

Vignettes and Perez were husband and wife. They were the operators of the driving school. Perez was listed as the owner of the school license, and Vignettes was an instructor and manager of the school.

Maurico Acosta, an agent for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, testified that on November 19, 1980, he visited the driving school and, pretending to have trouble with English, asked Vignettes if he could purchase a driver's license without taking the required examination. Acosta was acting in cooperation with Roberta Baskin, a reporter who was conducting a television investigation into the practices of Latino driving schools in the Chicago area. Vignettes stated that the cost of the drivers' training course was $75 or $85 but that if instruction proved impossible he could obtain a license for $225.

Vignettes then took Acosta to the main school where Perez attempted in vain to teach Acosta to memorize the license examination. Acosta told plaintiffs that he preferred to get his license in the way he had discussed with Vignettes. They both assured him that if he returned on Friday he could obtain his license. When Acosta returned, Perez assured him that he would have no trouble getting his license that afternoon if he followed Vignettes' instruction. Perez admittedly did not believe Acosta was qualified to pass the examination.

That afternoon Vignettes took Acosta and other applicants to a State drivers license facility. He told Acosta to wait while he went in and "got things taken care of." After spending approximately 10 minutes in an area restricted to State employees, Vignettes returned and told Acosta to have his identification ready. Acosta had previously informed Vignettes that his identification (green card) was counterfeit. Vignettes directed Acosta to an examiner who failed to request any identification despite a requirement that each applicant produce three forms of identification. The examiner merely wrote "green card" on the application and asked Acosta to sign it and take it to the cashier.

Acosta took the eye examination with his glasses on and passed it although he deliberately missed two letters. Contrary to established procedure he was never requested to read a line of the chart without his glasses.

The written examination consisted of 35 questions, 28 of which had to be answered correctly in order to pass. Acosta answered only 10 questions, five or six of which he answered incorrectly. The examiner filled in the uncompleted portion of Acosta's examination and marked it "passed."

Before taking the road test, Acosta entered an automobile with Vignettes and paid Vignettes $225. When Acosta expressed concern as to whether he would pass the test Vignettes told him not to worry "because it was already taken care of." For the first time Vignettes asked Acosta whether he could drive. Before leaving, Vignettes told Acosta that if he knew anyone else who wanted to obtain a license in this manner he should notify Vignettes.

Acosta then took the road test. A road test consists of a vehicle inspection and the actual driving test. Acosta testified that the vehicle was never inspected. During the driving test Acosta made several mistakes, two of which should have resulted in automatic failure. He drove the vehicle over a curb and he released the steering wheel with both hands forcing the examiner to take control of the vehicle. Although Acosta was not required to park the vehicle, he received grades for proper parking. In spite of these mistakes and irregularities, Acosta passed the road test and was given his driver's license.

Following receipt of his license, Acosta joined Baskin in a TV van where he gave her a statement concerning what had just occurred. Gary Rennick, another Federal agent who was aiding Baskin in her investigation, was also present. Acosta reported the incident to his superiors the following week.

Plaintiffs initially contend that the hearing officer erred in failing to exclude the testimony of Acosta, Rennick and Baskin because they violated State and Federal statutes and infringed upon plaintiffs' fourth amendment rights when they conducted the investigation. Specifically, plaintiffs maintain that Acosta and Rennick conspired with Baskin to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1905 (1976), and that Acosta did violate the act when he divulged the fruits of his investigation to Baskin; that Baskin violated section 14 of "An Act to provide for Licensing and Regulating Detectives * * *" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111, par. 2626) when she took part in the investigation; and that Acosta had no legitimate right to enter plaintiffs' premises to conduct the investigation. Plaintiffs urge that the exclusionary rule should have been invoked with regard to all evidence resulting from these alleged violations.

The basic purpose of the exclusionary rule is to safeguard an individual's constitutional right to a reasonable expectation of privacy by excluding evidence seized by the government in violation of that right. Ordinarily the rule applies only to criminal trials. Relying on dicta in Angelini v. United States (N.D. Ill. 1970), 322 F. Supp. 698, plaintiffs argue that Illinois has extended the right to license revocations. We need not decide that issue, however, since plaintiffs failed to show any constitutional violations which would warrant the imposition of the rule even if this were a criminal case.

Section 1905 (18 U.S.C. ยง 1905 (1976)) provides sanctions for disclosure by a government employee of certain information obtained in the course of his employment. Since it is concerned only with the disclosure of information and not with its seizure, violation of ...

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