Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division
On appeal from defendant’s conviction for unlawful possession of a controlled substance, the appellate court rejected defendant’s contention that the trial court improperly restricted his sixth amendment right to confront the evidence against him by precluding the disclosure of the surveillance location of the only officer who saw defendant possess narcotics and engage in three drug transactions, since the trial court conducted an in camera interview of the officer involved in the surveillance and concluded that an ongoing investigation warranted preserving the secrecy of the officer’s exact location, and there was no indication that the trial court abused its discretion in applying the surveillance location privilege to deny disclosure.
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 10-CR-17863; the Hon. Maura Slattery Boyle, Judge, presiding.
Michael J. Pelletier and Caroline E. Bourland, both of State Appellate Defender’s Office, of Chicago, for appellant.
Anita M. Alvarez, State’s Attorney, of Chicago (Joseph Carlson, Assistant State’s Attorney, of counsel), for the People.
Panel PRESIDING JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Neville and Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion.
HYMAN PRESIDING JUSTICE
¶ 1 Defendant Belton Reed was convicted of possession of a controlled substance, after a bench trial. The trial court sentenced Reed to a five-year extended prison term. On appeal, Reed contends the trial court impermissibly restricted Reed's sixth amendment right to confront the evidence against him by denying disclosure of the surveillance location of the only officer who saw Reed possess the narcotics. We affirm. Our careful review of the record does not establish that the trial court abused its discretion in precluding disclosure of the officer's surveillance location.
¶ 2 Background
¶ 3 Reed filed a pretrial motion for disclosure of Chicago police officer Daniel Honda's surveillance location, alleging that the location was material to the issue of his guilt and that the case against him turned almost entirely on the officer's testimony. The assistant State's Attorney informed the court that the officer was in court, that he provided distances, and that he did not wish to disclose the exact location where he had been. Defense counsel indicated that he expected greater specificity in terms of distance and direction. The trial court then conducted an in camera interview of the surveillance officer, which was not transcribed, and denied the motion to disclose surveillance based on the "ongoing investigation."
¶ 4 The State's trial evidence established that at around 11 a.m. on September 6, 2010, Officer Honda, from his vantage point in the area of Douglas Park, in the vicinity of Roosevelt Road and Whipple Street, observed Reed engage in three transactions. Officer Honda's surveillance location was slightly elevated and about 100 feet from Reed. In the morning daylight, Officer Honda had an unobstructed view of Reed and watched as Reed engaged in three separate transactions at about 3034 West Roosevelt Road. One of the individuals who engaged in the transactions was a white male, and two were black males.
¶ 5 During each transaction, an individual approached Reed on foot and gave an unknown amount of cash to him. Reed placed the cash in the right pocket of his shorts. Officer Honda could not see the denominations of the cash. After Reed placed the cash in his clothing, he directed the individual to cross Roosevelt Road by pointing with his finger. The individual then relocated to the sidewalk on the other side of the street at about 3033. Officer Honda's view of the individuals was unobstructed. Reed walked over to a grassy area near the sidewalk at the address of 1147 South Whipple Street, walked to the curb, lifted the weeds that covered the curb, and retrieved a clear plastic bag from underneath the weeds. When Reed went to the grassy area, he remained within Officer Honda's sight. Nothing obstructed Officer Honda's view of Reed when Reed lifted the patch of weeds. Reed removed an item from the clear plastic bag, placed the bag back underneath the weeds, relocated across the street, and gave the item to the individual who was waiting. The individual then left the area. The three transactions took a total of about 20 to 25 minutes. While Officer Honda was on surveillance, he did not see anyone else go to the grassy area at 1147 South Whipple Street.
¶ 6 After the third transaction, Reed walked back and forth from the front of a store at around 3034 West Roosevelt Road to the Whipple Street side of the store. Officer Honda radioed his partner, Officer Acevedo, and provided a full description of his observations and of Reed. Enforcement was asked to detain Reed. Officer Honda left his surveillance point and relocated to where Officer Acevedo and Reed were. The officers had a conversation and Officer Honda confirmed Reed's identity as the offender. Officer Honda believed that the three transactions were narcotics transactions. Officer Honda directed Officer Acevedo to the curb at 1147 South Whipple Street, and Officer Acevedo recovered a clear plastic bag containing 5 small Ziploc bags, each of which contained 2 tinfoil packets for a total of 10 tinfoil packets.
¶ 7 During cross-examination, Officer Honda testified that his distance from Reed was about 100 feet when Reed relocated to 1147 South Whipple Street. At a preliminary hearing on September 30, 2010, Officer Honda testified that he was about 50 to 100 feet from Reed when defendant was at the area of the weeds. There was no traffic control device at Roosevelt and Whipple and there were no buildings around 3033 West Roosevelt. There was just a park with a lot of trees. Other than that, it was an open area. The drugs were nowhere near the tree shown in a photograph of the area of 1147 South Whipple, which was not included in the record on appeal. Only Officers Honda and Acevedo were out there, but, in his reports, Officer Honda referred to multiple enforcement officers. The parties stipulated that during a preliminary hearing on September 30, 2010, Officer Honda testified that he provided a full description to enforcement officers, who arrived on the scene shortly after and detained Reed. Officer Honda did not recall from which direction any of the unknown individuals had come, nor did he recall in which direction any of them had left. Officer Acevedo lifted the weeds and retrieved the bags. At the preliminary hearing, Officer Honda testified that he lifted the weeds. Officer Honda could not identify whatever Reed gave to the unknown individuals, the amount of cash tendered between the individuals and Reed, or any further description of the unknown black males or any information about the unknown white male, beyond their race and gender. The bag that Officer Honda observed was not visible except when Reed lifted the patch of weeds. No drugs were found on Reed's person. Officer Honda ...