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People v. Beardsley





Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County; the Hon. Michael J. Sullivan, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Robert Beardsley, was charged with the offenses of eavesdropping (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 14-2(a)), and speeding (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-601(b)). At a jury trial defendant was found guilty of both charges. At a subsequent sentencing hearing defendant received a sentence of 12 months' probation with 10 hours of public service and a fine of $500 for eavesdropping. Additionally, the court imposed a $75 fine for the speeding offense.

In this court defendant contends: (1) that he was not properly charged with the offense of eavesdropping; (2) that the trial court erred in permitting acts of alleged prosecutorial misconduct during the State's cross-examination of defendant; and (3) that the trial court erred in refusing to order the State to file a verified complaint for the speeding offense.

Prior to trial, defendant, who represented himself through all the proceedings, filed innumerable motions (more than three dozen). At each pretrial hearing the court advised defendant that he was entitled to counsel and that counsel could be appointed. On every occasion defendant explained that he was not representing himself but that he had not relinquished his right to choice of counsel. The record reflects that defendant refused the services of the public defender, as he was an officer of the court, and that defendant's choice of counsel was a non-legal representative.

At one of the pretrial hearings, defendant presented a motion for a verified complaint. The court informed defendant that it would not entertain the motion, as the court was only going to hear motions at that time relating to the felony eavesdropping charge. Defendant did not object to this procedure, stating, "All right."

At trial defendant again appeared pro se. The relevant testimony indicated that on January 7, 1984, defendant was stopped by Deputy Ronald Page of the McHenry County sheriff's department for traveling 67 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per hour zone. At the time of the stop, the officer advised defendant of the speeding violation and asked to see defendant's driver's license. Defendant demanded to speak with counsel. The officer again requested defendant's driver's license, but defendant did not produce it. When the officer asked defendant his name, defendant again replied that he wanted to speak with counsel.

As Deputy Page stood by defendant's car, he noticed that defendant was holding a microphone in his hand. The officer requested that defendant stop recording any conversation, as the officer had not given defendant consent to make a recording and, therefore, to do so was illegal. Defendant responded that it was legal as long as he, the defendant, consented to the recording. The deputy disagreed and informed defendant that he could possibly be charged with eavesdropping.

After defendant again refused to produce his driver's license, the officer asked defendant to get out of his car. As defendant exited his car, he produced a small tape recorder which appeared to be operating, as the red recording light was lit. Later, it would be revealed that although the light was lit, the recorder was not operating because the microphone was not activated. This tape recorder remained in defendant's possession until defendant was later placed in a cell at the county jail.

After having asked defendant several times for defendant's driver's license, Deputy Page placed defendant in the rear seat of his squad car and then radioed his supervisor, Sergeant Hunt, to meet the deputy at the scene of the traffic stop. Upon Sergeant Hunt's arrival, the deputy informed him of the situation. Hunt tried to get defendant to turn over his driver's license, but defendant refused until he spoke with counsel. The officers arranged for the towing of defendant's car since defendant was under arrest for speeding and for failure to produce a driver's license. While waiting for the tow truck, the officers sat in the front seat of Deputy Page's squad car and conversed. As they spoke, defendant recorded their conversation. According to the officers, neither one of them gave defendant his consent to record their conversation. Deputy Page indicated that he did not know defendant was taping their conversation.

After the tow truck had arrived at the scene, Deputy Page transported defendant to the county jail.

During the State's cross-examination of the defendant, the prosecutor questioned defendant regarding his repeated observations of both the prosecutor and Deputy Page during their courtroom appearances in other cases prior to defendant's trial. Defendant tendered no objections to this line of questioning. On the following day defendant made a motion to strike these references, arguing that they were irrelevant and immaterial. The State contended that the questions were proper because they went to the bias, interests, and motives of the defendant. The court granted defendant's motion with regard to these references, but denied that part of defendant's motion which referred to defendant's testimony regarding his refusal to answer the officers' questions after his arrest, since these questions went primarily to the defendant's identity.

During defendant's trial, the State maintained that defendant was guilty of eavesdropping at the time he recorded Sergeant Hunt's and Deputy Page's conversation in the squad car without their consent. On the other hand, defendant contended that he participated in the conversation between Page and Hunt and, therefore, no reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation existed.

The jury found defendant guilty of both eavesdropping and speeding. At the sentencing hearing the court imposed fines of $75 for speeding and $500 for eavesdropping and sentenced defendant to 10 days public service work and 12 months' probation for the eavesdropping offense. This appeal followed. We affirm.

• 1 Defendant first contends that he was improperly charged with eavesdropping because the conversation he recorded in Deputy Page's squad car was not private, or "secret," as defendant was a part of that conversation. Additionally, defendant claims that the eavesdropping statute does not apply to ...

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