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The People of the State of Illinois v. James Ziobro et al

April 21, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
APPELLANT,
v.
JAMES ZIOBRO ET AL.,
APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garman

JUSTICE GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Thomas, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice Freeman specially concurred, with opinion.

OPINION

This case comes to us as a consolidated appeal. Defendants James Ziobro, Michael Lemoine, and Todd Wambsganss were each issued a citation for driving under the influence (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a) (West 2006)), among other traffic violations. In each instance, the first appearance date listed on the citation was beyond the period prescribed by Supreme Court Rule 504 (Ill. S. Ct. R. 504 (eff. Jan. 1, 1996)). The defendants' attorneys filed appearances with the court and each demanded a trial in accordance with the procedure laid out by Supreme Court Rule 505 (Ill. S. Ct. R. 505 (eff. Jan. 1, 1996)). No defendant was given a new appearance date or a trial date before his original first appearance date arrived, and each appeared in the circuit court of Will County and filed a motion to dismiss the charges at that time due to the violation of Rule 504. In each case, the charges were dismissed and the State was barred from refiling.

The appellate court upheld the dismissals on the basis that the defendants announced ready for trial when they appeared on the initial appearance date, but were not tried at that time because the State was not ready. 397 Ill. App. 3d 831, 838-39. The State filed a petition for leave to appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 315 (Ill. S. Ct. R. 315 (eff. Feb. 26, 2010)), which we allowed.*fn1

For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the appellate court and remand to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Background

Rules 504 and 505 govern the procedures to be used in setting and rescheduling first appearance dates for traffic violations. Rule 504 states, in pertinent part:

"The date set by the arresting officer or the clerk of the circuit court for an accused's first appearance in court shall not be less than 14 days but within 60 days after the date of the arrest, whenever practicable." Ill. S. Ct. R. 504 (eff. Jan. 1, 1996).

Rule 505 directs an officer to issue a written notice to the accused when issuing a traffic citation that provides:

"If you intend to plead 'not guilty' to this charge, or if, in addition, you intend to demand a trial by jury, so notify the clerk of the court at least 10 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays or holidays) before the day set for your appearance.

A new appearance date will be set, and arrangements will be made to have the arresting officer present on that new date. Failure to notify the clerk of either your intention to plead 'not guilty' or your intention to demand a jury trial may result in your having to return to court, if you plead 'not guilty' on the date originally set for your court appearance." Ill. S. Ct. R. 505 (eff. Jan. 1, 1996).

When the accused complies with this time frame and timely submits notice of an intent to plead "not guilty," the rule directs the clerk to "set a new appearance date not less than 7 days nor more than 60 days after the original appearance date set by the arresting officer or the clerk of the circuit court, and notify all parties of the new date and the time for appearance." Id. Rule 505 further provides that "[i]f the accused demands a trial by jury, the trial shall be scheduled within a reasonable period."

In each of the consolidated cases, an error was committed by both the arresting officer in failing to schedule the first appearance within the 14- to 60-day time frame and the clerk of the court in failing to set the new ...


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