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People v. Boyer

June 15, 1999


Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 14th Judicial Circuit Whiteside County, Illinois No. 97--CF--261 Honorable Dan A. Dunagan Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton


After being arrested for possession of cannabis with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 550/5(d) (West 1996)), defendant Scott D. Boyer filed a motion to suppress evidence (725 ILCS 5/114--12 (West 1996)), and the circuit court granted the motion. The State certified that the suppression order substantially impaired its ability to prosecute the case (see People v. Young, 82 Ill. 2d 234, 247, 412 N.E.2d 501, 507 (West 1996)) and filed a notice of appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (134 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)). We affirm.

A circuit court's ruling on a motion to suppress evidence generally is subject to reversal only if manifestly erroneous. People v. Krueger, 175 Ill. 2d 60, 64, 675 N.E.2d 604, 607 (1996). This case, however, involves the circuit court's application of the law to uncontroverted facts. Consequently, this case presents a question of law for which we conduct de novo review. Krueger, 175 Ill. 2d at 64, 675 N.E.2d at 607.

At the hearing on the motion to suppress, Deputy Glen Estrada testified that he stopped defendant for speeding on August 10, 1997. Upon checking defendant's driver's license number, Estrada was informed that there was a warrant for defendant's arrest, possibly for a failure to appear on a DUI case. Defendant protested that the matter had already been cleared up, but Estrada placed defendant under arrest. The deputy then searched defendant's car and found a green leafy material that appeared to be cannabis. Defendant did not consent to the search.

Defendant testified that he was unaware that an arrest warrant had been issued in his DUI case, which was pending in Lee County. Defendant had appeared before Judge Martin Hill and was assigned a court date of August 20, 1997, prior to being stopped by Deputy Estrada.

After admitting People's Exhibit 1, an arrest warrant dated June 23, 1997, signed by circuit Judge David T. Fritts, the trial court denied the motion to suppress:

"On its face, the warrant was valid at the time of the defendant's arrest and the mere fact that the defendant was unaware of the reason for it does not show that there had been no probable cause for it to have been issued. If it were shown that the warrant was erroneously issued or that it should have been recalled, the arrest would be unlawful and the evidence suppressed. [Citation.] Because that has not been shown, however, the Motion to Suppress is denied."

Defendant filed a motion to reconsider. Attached to the motion was an affidavit signed by William Brozovich, assistant state's attorney in Lee County. Brozovich stated under oath that (a) on June 6, 1997, Scott Boyer failed to appear for his DUI case, and the court ordered that a warrant issue with a $4000 bond; (b) on June 23, the warrant actually issued; (c) on June 30, the Lee County State's Attorney's Office filed a notice to appear, requiring Boyer to appear on July 17; (d) on July 17, defendant did appear, was informed of his rights, pled not guilty, and was assigned a status date of August 20; (e) the Judge should have been informed that a warrant had issued, and the State's Attorney's Office failed to so inform the Judge; and (f) this was an honest oversight.

Defendant also filed an affidavit signed by Martin Hill, associate Judge sitting in Lee County. Judge Hill stated that (a) Scott Boyer appeared before him on July 17, 1997; (b) Hill continued the case to August 20 for status; (c) Hill was not informed by the Lee County State's Attorney's Office of the fact that there was an outstanding warrant; and (d) had he been so informed, Hill would have recalled the warrant.

On appeal the State raises one issue: "Can an officer search a car and seize contraband therein pursuant to the arrest of the driver on a warrant later found to have been erroneously not been recalled?"


The fourth amendment of the United States Constitution provides that:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be ...

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