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People v. Billups

December 29, 1998

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MYRON BILLUPS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 97-CF-437 Honorable Stephen M. Kernan, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Chapman

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

On April 25, 1997, an indictment was filed charging Myron Billups with two counts of improper solicitation of an application for an absentee ballot, violations of section 29-20(1) of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/29-20(1) (West 1996)), and with one count of perjury, a violation of section 29-10(a) of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/29-10(a) (West 1996)). Prior to trial, the court granted Billups' motion to suppress his testimony to the grand jury. The State appeals. We affirm.

Deputy Sheriff Lee Mohme was involved in an investigation of criminal matters involving Myron Billups. Mohme needed to speak to Billups concerning possible voter fraud. The deputy contacted Billups on March 19, 1997, and advised him that he was investigating absentee voter fraud. Billups was never advised of any rights. According to the report of proceedings, Mohme and Investigator Schilli continued to ask Billups questions even though Billups told them, "I ain't got nothing to say." After finding Billups unwilling to cooperate, Mohme served him with a grand jury subpoena. On June 1, 1998, Billups filed a motion to suppress the testimony he gave to the grand jury.

A trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress will not be reversed unless it is manifestly erroneous. People v. McKinney, 274 Ill. App. 3d 880, 888, 655 N.E.2d 40, 45 (1995). Section 112-4(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 provides in pertinent part:

"Any person subpoenaed who is already charged with an offense or against whom the State's Attorney is seeking a Bill of Indictment shall have the right to be accompanied by counsel who shall advise him of his rights during the proceedings but may not participate in any other way. Before any testimony is given by such a person, he shall be informed that he has the right to refuse to answer any question that will tend to incriminate him, that anything he says may be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to be accompanied and advised of his rights by counsel, and that he will have counsel appointed for him if he cannot afford one." 725 ILCS 5/112-4(b) (West 1996).

Defendant appeared before the grand jury on March 21, 1997. After being sworn in, he responded to the assistant State's Attorney's questions as follows:

"Q.I'm going to advise you, Mr. Billups, that you were just sworn by the Grand Jury Chairperson, foreperson, so you're now under oath; do you understand that, sir?"

"A.Yes."

"Q.And you understand further that any answers that you give to the Grand Jury are sworn testimony, that there is an ongoing investigation pursuant to voter fraud in East St. Louis[,] and [that] any statements you make to the Grand Jury could be used in a prosecution of any criminal offenses in which you are involved; do you understand that?"

"A.Yes, I understand it."

"Q.Okay. Well, are you willing to talk to the Grand Jury or do you feel you need to consult with an attorney or would you rather not talk to the Grand Jury at all and assert your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination?"

"A.I done nothing to incriminate myself."

"Q.Sir, I'm not actually saying that you have, but the question I need you to answer on the record is[,] do you, having been advised of your rights at this ...


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