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People v. Webb





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County; the Hon. James K. Robinson, Judge, presiding.


Under the authority of Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (87 Ill.2d R. 604(a)(1)) the State appeals an order of the circuit court of Vermilion County which suppressed evidence.

Since this case possesses an anomalistic and unconventional history, a brief recapitulation of prior proceedings is appropriate. Defendant was stopped by a police officer in April 1980; the stop led to a search of defendant's vehicle, an arrest of defendant, and a subsequent charge of possession of controlled substances, cocaine, and cannabis. A motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the search was filed and heard in the circuit court of Vermilion County by Judge Paul Wright, who allowed the motion and suppressed the evidence.

The State appealed the suppression order to this court. We reversed in an unpublished order. (People v. Webb (1981), 92 Ill. App.3d 1200 (Rule 23 order).) For the purposes of this opinion, the significant portion of that order stated:

"Therefore, the oral order of the circuit court of Vermilion County suppressing evidence is reversed and the cause is remanded for further proceedings.

Reversed and remanded."

The accompanying mandate issued by the clerk of this court stated in pertinent part:

"It is the decision of this court that the order on appeal from the circuit court be REVERSED and the cause be REMANDED to the Circuit Court for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, Vermilion County for such other proceedings as required by the opinion or order of this court, a copy of which is attached hereto."

Upon remand, a hearing was convened before Judge James Robinson. The State argued that our order foreclosed any further evidentiary hearing; defense counsel argued contra, that a hearing de novo on the entire matter was required. Judge Robinson noted:

"Having determined under the unusual circumstances of this case, and by that I mean merely the fact I was not the judge that heard the original hearing, nor is he presently assigned to this court, nor was I able to legally interpret the remand order as a mandatory direction to deny the motion to suppress on the basis of the Appellate Court Order, that record is already made, I elected to proceed anew with a new evidentiary hearing."

The hearing then proceeded and resulted in a second order suppressing evidence, this being the order now under appeal. Since we have concluded that the trial court erred in holding the de novo hearing, no recitation of the facts adduced at that hearing is required.

• 1, 2 In our opinion the instant case is controlled by what is commonly called the doctrine of the law of the case. This doctrine holds that when a judgment of a trial court is reversed and remanded, the trial court is bound by the reviewing court's resolution of the questions presented to it and must proceed in a manner consistent with the reviewing court's directions. (National Boulevard Bank v. Department of Transportation (1979), 78 Ill. App.3d 168, 397 N.E.2d 91.) The parties agree on the statement of the doctrine, but they part company on its application. The State also argues collateral estoppel. We find it inapplicable, since it applies to relitigation at the trial level prior to appeal.

Defendant argues that the law of the case is open to interpretation in the case at bar because our order and the mandate accompanying it do not direct the trial court to proceed to trial nor do they specifically preclude another suppression hearing. While it is true there is no direction to proceed to trial, we find that to be implicit in our order and mandate. The nature of the order is such as to foreclose the subject of suppression of evidence. Merrill v. Drazek (1978), 58 Ill. App.3d 455, 374 N.E.2d 792.

In a case of this nature, that is, an interlocutory appeal, this court of necessity prepares a mandate both in specific and in general terms. We have no way of knowing what other motions or proceedings may be pending in the court below and a direction to proceed to trial would foreclose any other pretrial maneuvering, including some disposition other than trial. On the other hand, the precise question presented, that is, probable cause to ...

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