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The People of the State of Illinois v. Marina Kladis

December 30, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Freeman

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

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


¶ 1 Defendant, Marina Kladis, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) (West 2006)). She requested that the State produce the video recording of the stop made by the camera located in the arresting officer's vehicle. After the State destroyed the recording, the circuit court of Cook County granted defendant's motion for sanctions and barred the State from introducing testimony concerning what was contained on the videotape. The State filed a certificate of substantial impairment and a notice of appeal. The appellate court affirmed. 403 Ill. App. 3d 99. We granted the State's petition for leave to appeal and now affirm the judgment of the appellate court.


¶ 3 On May 3, 2008, defendant was arrested for DUI by Northlake police officer Phillip Gaske. On May 8, 2008-five days after her arrest and 25 days prior to the first court date on June 3, 2008-defendant filed and hand delivered to the State's Attorney's office a petition to rescind her statutory summary license suspension. Defendant also filed and delivered on the same date a document captioned "Notice to Produce at Summary Suspension Hearing." The notice was premised upon our Rule 237 (Ill. S. Ct. R. 237 (eff. July 1, 2005)) and requested that at the first court date the State produce the arresting officer along with copies of various reports and "any and all video tapes of defendant" while she was in custody.

¶ 4 On June 3, 2008, at approximately 1:30 p.m., the parties appeared in court for the first time.*fn1 Because the State had not yet produced the materials defendant had previously requested, defense counsel made an oral motion for discovery, pursuant to People v. Schmidt, 56 Ill.2d 572');">56 Ill. 2d 572 (1974), which included the videotape. Because the State claimed that it did not know whether such a tape existed, Officer Gaske-who was present for the hearing-was questioned. Gaske confirmed that his squad car had a camera mounted to the windshield which had recorded his encounter with defendant.

¶ 5 The State thereafter agreed to produce all the requested materials-including the videotape-to defense counsel.*fn2 Later in the day on June 3, the State mailed written discovery to counsel and a request for the video recording to the Northlake police department. By agreement, the hearing on defendant's petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension of her driver's license was entered and continued to June 17, 2008.

¶ 6 When the parties returned to court on that date, the State tendered to defense counsel a two-page business record from the Northlake police department. This document stated that pursuant to departmental policy, video recordings are automatically purged within 30 days of arrest, and that the tape requested by defendant had been erased at 4:24 a.m. on June 3, 2008, just hours before the parties first appeared in court. Because the requested evidence had been destroyed, and in view of the fact that, but for its absence, defendant would have been ready to proceed on her petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension, the court granted her leave to file a written motion for sanctions against the State.*fn3 The court scheduled a hearing on the sanctions motion for June 26, 2008, and further ordered that the hearing on the petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension would proceed immediately after the court ruled on the motion for sanctions.

¶ 7 Upon their return to court on June 26, the parties discovered that the judge handling this case had been transferred, and they appeared before a different judge who was unfamiliar with what had previously transpired. The parties stipulated to the facts in the case up to that point, and then engaged in brief argument on defendant's sanctions motion.

¶ 8 The court found that the "Notice to Produce" which accompanied defendant's petition to rescind her statutory summary suspension placed the State on clear notice that she wished to have a copy of the video recording at the first court date-a fact which the State did not dispute. The State, however, did nothing in response. The court observed that the State "could have called the police department and got the tape prior to the time that it ran out" or it "could have filed an answer *** stating its not our obligation [to produce the tape] yet because we don't deem this to be a discovery motion *** [because it includes] things requested in here that we don't have to supply to you."

¶ 9 Noting that this was "the third case I have had like this in three weeks" where a defendant asked the State to preserve a video recording and it was destroyed, the court found the recording of defendant's traffic stop to be "an important piece of evidence" and held that imposition of a sanction against the State for its destruction was proper. The court determined that it would bar the State from introducing testimony relating to what was contained on the tape. However, because no one had seen the recording, defendant called Officer Gaske to establish its contents and thereby clarify the scope of the court's ruling.

¶ 10 Gaske testified that the in-car video system begins recording five seconds prior to the activation of the emergency lights. At that time, the microphone he wears is also activated.*fn4 According to Gaske, the tape would have captured the following: images of defendant's car five seconds prior to the stop; the manner in which defendant pulled over and curbed her vehicle; defendant's actions when he approached her vehicle; the manner in which defendant opened her car door and exited her vehicle; and defendant's performance of the field sobriety tests. Gaske stated that he turned off the emergency lights prior to transporting defendant to the station, and it was then that the recording ended.

¶ 11 The court then clarified its sanction ruling, holding that "[t]he video may not be used for any purpose from five seconds prior to the lights going on at the time that the defendant was stopped getting out of the car until she was taken away via the arrest." The court specified, however, that any driving or actions of defendant prior to this were admissible, as were any of her actions after she was placed under arrest.

¶ 12 The court then proceeded to conduct the hearing on defendant's petition for recision of the statutory summary suspension of her driver's license. Although defendant answered ready, the State requested leave to immediately file a notice of appeal of the sanctions ruling. However, because the State did not ask the court to certify an interlocutory appeal on the sanctions issue and because there was no final judgment in the statutory summary suspension matter at that time, the State's request was denied.

ΒΆ 13 The hearing on defendant's petition proceeded. Based upon the evidence presented, the court held that Officer Gaske had no probable cause to stop, detain and arrest defendant. Accordingly, defendant's petition to rescind the ...

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