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03/25/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. JAMES ECONOMY

March 25, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
JAMES ECONOMY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon County. No. 93CF147. Honorable Frank W. Lincoln, Judge Presiding.

As Corrected April 29, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied October 6, 1994.

Honorable John T. McCULLOUGH, P.j., Honorable Carl A. Lund, J., Honorable Frederick S. Green, J.

PRESIDING JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant James Economy filed a motion to suppress evidence seized during a warrant-authorized search of his residence. The circuit court of Macon County granted defendant's motion on May 26, 1993, finding the search was unreasonable "in both the manner in which the Search Warrant was obtained and how it was executed." The State filed its notice of appeal and certificate of substantial impairment on June 8, 1993, contending the trial court's finding on the motion to suppress was manifestly erroneous. We reverse and remand.

On February 25, 1993, a search warrant was issued by Judge Scott B. Diamond authorizing the police "to search the person of James Economy and a two[-]story, single[-]family residence located at 544 South 21st Street, Decatur, Macon County, Illinois," and

"to seize * * * any and all controlled substances, any paraphernalia used in the possession or consumption of controlled substances, any documents relating to the possession, consumption or acquisition of controlled substances, any currency or thing of value used in the acquisition of controlled substances, and any records or documents establishing ownership or possession of the premises."

As a result of this search, the following items were seized from defendant's bedroom: "Approx. 35 baggie corners containing suspected cocaine. Three pieces of white chunky substance. One beer can smoking device. Two documents." The presence of cocaine in the baggies, beer can, and the chunky substance was confirmed.

The complaint for the search warrant was submitted by John Doe (assumed name) and Rick McElroy. The complaint alleged (1) John Doe was familiar with the appearance and packaging of cocaine and paraphernalia used in the consumption and possession of cocaine; (2) John Doe knew defendant to reside at the address listed in the complaint; (3) John Doe knew defendant and had been inside defendant's house sometime between the dates of February 10, 1993, and February 24, 1993, during which time he observed what appeared to be cocaine and the paraphernalia used in the possession and consumption of cocaine; (4) Rick McElroy was an investigator assigned to the narcotics division of the Decatur police department and was familiar with the appearance and packaging of cocaine and the paraphernalia used in consumption and possession of cocaine; (5) John Doe had described what he had observed in defendant's residence and Rick McElroy knew this to be consistent with what he was familiar with as cocaine; (6) Rick McElroy had been involved in defendant's previous arrest for possession of cocaine (after which defendant had pleaded guilty to the offense of possession of a controlled substance, namely cocaine, prior to February 10, 1993); (7) defendant had admitted to Rick McElroy, prior to his previous arrest, that he was addicted to the use of cocaine; and (8) Rick McElroy knew at the time of defendant's arrest in October 1992 a search warrant of defendant's residence had been executed, and paraphernalia used in the consumption of cocaine was recovered with a residue of what later tested positive for cocaine.

The building at 544 South 21st Street in Decatur contains defendant's law office as well as his personal residence. Defendant described his law office as consisting of three rooms on the first floor of the building. The first room, through the front entrance of the house, is a reception area with a secretarial desk, dictaphone, computer, and telephone. The next room, through an archway, is a conference room with a conference table, two desks, a typewriter and various legal books, manuals, and files. This room contains a file cabinet with client files. Through a set of double doors is a third room with more office furniture, office equipment, and another file cabinet with more client files. Defendant admitted there was no sign on the front door of his building indicating the presence of a law office. The first floor also contains a kitchen. The second floor has two empty bedrooms, defendant's bedroom, and a bathroom.

Darren Barnes was employed part-time by defendant as a private process server and caseworker. He described the first floor of defendant's house as containing a kitchen, dining room, living room, and office. Barnes testified the living room contained a secretary's desk and the dining room contained some filing cabinets. He further testified defendant's office had a fax machine. Barnes acknowledged there were no dividers separating the law office from the rest of the house except for a "partition door" between the office and the dining room.

Officer Rick McElroy testified he knew a portion of defendant's residence contained his law office and that nothing distinguished the law office from the rest of the residence. McElroy testified that a confidential source had told him that she had delivered cocaine to defendant several times at his residence. She would enter the law office and place the cocaine under papers on defendant's desk. Defendant would take the cocaine out from underneath the papers, replace it with money, and the informant would retrieve the money and then leave. McElroy did not inform Judge Diamond that defendant's residence contained a law office which possibly contained drugs because the police wanted to search the entire house. He also had information that defendant's bedroom contained the illegal drugs. McElroy was familiar with the types of locations used to hide narcotics. He testified that people hide drugs anywhere they think it might not be found, including drawers, under dressers, under carpeting or in the ceiling.

Officer Edward Root assisted in the search of the premises at 544 South 21st Street. He searched defendant's bedroom, an adjacent walk-in closet, kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, dining room/conference room, and law office area. He admitted prying open the locked file cabinet because he could not locate the keys. He looked through the file folders because he believed, through experience, that filing cabinets and files are good places to hide narcotics. He testified he looked into the files for the narcotics; however, he did not examine the documents in the files to see what the cases were about. He did not seize any papers from the files but did take some documents that had been mailed directly to defendant. The files were scattered on the floor and not put back into their respective file folders because that would have taken too much time.

Defendant returned to his house from snowmobiling on February26, 1993, at approximately 3 a.m. His house and law office were in total disarray. Files were scattered all over the office and a locked file cabinet had been pried open. The search warrant was taped to the ceiling of the archway between the front entryway and the conference/dining room.

Defendant filed his motion to suppress evidence on April 1, 1993, and an amended motion to suppress evidence was filed on May 6, 1993. A hearing was held on May 6, 1993, and the trial court entered an order granting the motion to suppress on May 26, ...


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