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The People of the State of Illinois v. Derrick A. Cummings

February 11, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
DERRICK A. CUMMINGS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Whiteside County, Illinois, Circuit No. 11-CF-60 Honorable John L. Hauptman, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton

JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Holdridge concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Presiding Justice Wright dissented, with opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Defendant, Derrick A. Cummings, was charged with driving while license suspended (625 ILCS 5/6-303(d) (West 2010)). The trial court granted defendant's motion to suppress evidence. The State appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in finding that the police officer unreasonably prolonged the stop of defendant's vehicle by asking defendant for his driver's license and proof of insurance after the reasonable suspicion for the stop had been satisfied and was no longer present. We affirm.

¶ 2 FACTS

¶ 3 On July 15, 2011, a hearing took place on defendant's motion to suppress evidence. Defendant testified that on the evening of January 27, 2011, he was driving a van owned by Pearlene Chattic. A police car pulled beside the van at a stop sign and, subsequently, continued to travel behind the van for three minutes. Defendant pulled over after the police car's emergency lights were activated. Defendant was not aware of any reason for the traffic stop. Defendant had not committed any traffic violations, and the lights and equipment on the van were functioning properly. Officer Shane Bland approached the van and asked defendant for his driver's license. Defendant was issued citations for driving while license suspended and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

¶ 4 Bland testified that he was on patrol on January 27, 2011, when he observed a van that appeared to have an expired registration. Bland used the squad car's computer to check the status of the van's registration. The check revealed that the registration was valid and the van was registered to Chattic, who was the subject of a warrant for her arrest. Bland testified that he was aware that Chattic was a female. He also testified that he pulled along the side of the van at a stop sign in an attempt to identify the driver as Chattic, but his view was obstructed, and he could not tell whether the driver was a male or female. Bland was unable to observe the driver's face because the "driver pinned [himself] back in the seat obstructing [Bland's] view." Bland testified that because the driver pushed back, "[i]t raise[d] [Bland's] suspicion that [the driver] was indeed the registered owner" but did not give him any other suspicions.

¶ 5 Bland pulled behind the van and activated the squad car's emergency lights. Both vehicles came to a stop. Bland exited the squad car and approached the van. As he approached the van, Bland was able to determine that the driver was not Chattic because the driver was male. Bland asked the driver for his license. Defendant indicated that he did not have a driver's license.

¶ 6 The trial court found that Bland had a legitimate reason to make the traffic stop but because the purpose of the stop--looking for Chattic--had been completed before Bland requested defendant's documentation, defendant had been unlawfully seized. The trial court granted defendant's motion to suppress evidence. The State filed a motion to reconsider, which was denied. The State appealed.

¶ 7 ANALYSIS

¶ 8 On appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred in granting defendant's motion to suppress. Specifically, the State argues that Bland's request for defendant's driver's license and proof of insurance did not unreasonably prolong the traffic stop.

¶ 9 We review the circuit court's ruling on a motion to suppress evidence under a two-part test. People v. Harris, 228 Ill. 2d 222 (2008). The trial court's factual findings are entitled to deference and will be reversed only if manifestly erroneous. Id. The ultimate ruling on whether to grant the motion to suppress is a question of law reviewed de novo. Id.

¶ 10 Both the federal and state constitutions protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const., amend. IV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 6. Thus, the fourth amendment attaches where a search or seizure takes place. People v. Bartelt, 241 Ill. 2d 217 (2011). Stopping an automobile and detaining its occupants constitutes a seizure. Brendlin v. California, 551 U.S. 249 (2007); Harris, 228 Ill. 2d 222. A seizure that is lawful at its inception can become unlawful as violating the fourth amendment if it either: (1) unreasonably prolongs the duration of the detention; or (2) independently triggers the fourth amendment. Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405 (2005); Harris, 228 Ill. 2d 222. An investigative stop that is originally lawful must cease once reasonable suspicion dissipates and ...


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