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The People of the State of Illinois v. Jenna M. Jordan

November 14, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
JENNA M. JORDAN,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Livingston county No. 09CF226 Honorable Jennifer H. Bauknecht, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cook

JUSTICE COOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Steigmann and Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In April 2010, the trial court granted defendant Jenna M. Jordan's motion to suppress evidence in her prosecution for possession of cannabis with the intent to deliver. Specifically, the court suppressed admissions made by defendant and contraband seized during a traffic stop of a vehicle in which defendant was a passenger, finding the evidence was obtained in violation of defendant's fourth-amendment rights (see U.S. Const., amend. IV) and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The State brings this interlocutory appeal under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (eff. July 1, 2006), arguing the suppressed evidence was obtained through constitutional means. We disagree and affirm.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 The traffic stop in question occurred in August 2009. Livingston County sheriff's deputy David Netter stopped a Chevrolet Blazer driven by Mark Zaloudek on suspicion that the driver was not wearing his seatbelt. Defendant was Zaloudek's sole passenger. Deputy Netter approached the vehicle to identify the driver and passenger and inform them of the reason for the stop. During this initial exchange, Zaloudek informed Deputy Netter that he was on "parole," or what is currently known as mandatory supervised release (MSR).

¶ 4 Deputy Netter returned to his patrol car to run warrant checks on defendant and Zaloudek. He confirmed that Zaloudek was on MSR and determined that neither occupant had any outstanding warrants. Deputy Netter recognized Zaloudek by his name; he had been informed by another Livingston County sheriff's deputy, Deputy Chambers, that Zaloudek was among individuals suspected of drug activity in the Streator area. Before returning to Zaloudek's vehicle, Deputy Netter called Deputy Chambers regarding Zaloudek.

¶ 5 Deputy Netter next approached the Blazer from the passenger side and began talking with defendant. He asked her to accompany him back toward his patrol car, out of Zaloudek's earshot. At Deputy Netter's request, defendant sat in the rear seat of the squad car with the door open while Deputy Netter questioned her. Deputy Netter asked defendant whether she was employed. He asked what she and Zaloudek had been doing and where they were headed when he pulled them over. He asked whether she smoked marijuana; she replied that she had, "a long time ago." When asked, defendant responded that no contraband was in Zaloudek's vehicle; after a pause, she added that, if contraband was in the vehicle, neither she nor Zaloudek knew about it. This questioning lasted approximately four minutes. Before he returned to the Blazer, Deputy Netter locked defendant in the backseat of the squad car; he lowered the rear window so defendant could call out to him if she needed anything.

¶ 6 Returning to the Blazer, Deputy Netter asked Zaloudek to exit the vehicle. He questioned Zaloudek along the same lines as he had questioned defendant. Notably, Zaloudek indicated he was unemployed, yet when Deputy Netter searched his person, $370 in $10 and $20 bills was found in Zaloudek's rear pocket. When asked how he obtained the cash, Zaloudek explained that he sometimes mowed yards for his brother.

¶ 7 Deputy Netter suspected Zaloudek's vehicle contained contraband based on Zaloudek's status as a parolee, the cash found on his person, defendant's and Zaloudek's suspiciousness, and the phone conversation Deputy Netter had with Deputy Chambers. Deputy Netter informed Zaloudek that his Blazer was subject to being searched pursuant to his MSR agreement. Deputy Netter nevertheless asked for and received Zaloudek's consent to the search. By this time, three reinforcement officers had arrived at the scene. One officer held Zaloudek near Deputy Netter's patrol car while Deputy Netter and the two other officers searched Zaloudek's vehicle. No contraband was found.

¶ 8 Following this search, Deputy Netter returned to his patrol car and resumed questioning defendant. Approximately 15 minutes had elapsed since he had left her alone there. He informed her that he intended to call the canine unit to search the Blazer further. Deputy Netter again asked defendant whether "there was anything illegal on her person or in the vehicle." After about eight minutes of questioning, defendant admitted she had cannabis concealed in her pants and in a bag in the vehicle. She produced the cannabis on her person, described the bag, and told Deputy Netter where the bag could be found in the Blazer. She claimed ownership of the bag. Officers found the bag as described by defendant. It contained two more bags of different sizes, each containing cannabis.

¶ 9 Defendant was arrested. The following day, the State charged her with possession of cannabis (30 to 500 grams) with intent to deliver. See 720 ILCS 550/5(d) (West 2008). In November 2009, defendant moved to suppress evidence, including the cannabis and defendant's admissions to Deputy Netter.

¶ 10 In March and April 2010, the trial court held a two-day hearing on defendant's motion to suppress. Deputy Netter was the sole witness; he testified to the relevant events as described above. The audio-video recording taken by Deputy Netter's dashboard camera was admitted as evidence for defendant and was played for the court. Zaloudek's MSR agreement was admitted as evidence for the State. Following arguments, the court concluded defendant had been unlawfully detained when she made the incriminating statements as she was held in the backseat of the squad car for an unreasonable duration. The court also noted defendant was not advised of her constitutional rights in accordance with Miranda before she made her inculpatory statements. As it concluded they resulted from this unconstitutional seizure and questioning of defendant, the court suppressed defendant's admissions and the seized cannabis.

ΒΆ 11 In July 2010, the trial court denied the State's motion to reconsider. In August, the State filed its notice of appeal and certificate ...


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