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People v. Burns

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

January 30, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
TARON R. BURNS, Defendant-Appellee

Page 1245

Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County. No. 13CF66. Honorable Harry E. Clem, Judge Presiding.

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

The trial court properly granted defendant's motion to suppress the cannabis discovered in her apartment pursuant to a search warrant issued on the basis of a drug-detection dog's alert after a sniff of the front door of defendant's apartment, since the warrantless dog sniff violated the fourth amendment as held in Jardines, to the extent that the police conduct that took place when the dog sniffed as it stood with the police at the entrance of defendant's apartment occurred in a constitutionally protected area, especially when the entrances to the apartment building were locked and it was 3 a.m.; furthermore, the warrantless use of the dog affected the judge's decision to issue the search warrant, and the evidence seized pursuant to the warrant was the fruit of the poisonous tree and subject to the exclusionary rule.

Julia Rietz, State's Attorney, of Urbana (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and David E. Mannchen (argued), all of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

L. Keith Hays (argued), of Keith Hays Law Office, of Monticello, for appellee.

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Turner and Appleton concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

KNECHT, JUSTICE

Page 1246

[¶1] At approximately 3:20 a.m. on January 10, 2013, two police officers from the Urbana police department entered the locked apartment building in which defendant, Taron R. Burns, lives. The officers were interested in apartment No. 10, defendant's apartment. They did not have a search warrant and were accompanied by Hunter, a trained drug-detection dog. After sniffing the front door to apartment No. 10, Hunter alerted to the presence of narcotics. On the basis of this drug sniff, the police obtained a search warrant and searched defendant's apartment.

[¶2] In January 2013, the State charged defendant with unlawful possession with intent to deliver more than 500 grams but not more than 2,000 grams of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/5(e) (West 2012)). In April 2013, defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence discovered in the search. She argued the warrantless dog sniff of her apartment's front door violated the fourth amendment as held in Florida v. Jardines, 569 U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 1409, 185 L.Ed.2d 495 (2013). In October 2013, the trial court agreed and granted defendant's motion to suppress.

[¶3] The State argues the trial court erred in granting defendant's motion to suppress. The State contends Jardines does not apply to this case because the police did not invade upon the curtilage to defendant's residence and defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the common areas of her apartment building. In the event we conclude Jardines applies to this case, the State argues the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies and evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant may be admitted if, apart from the dog sniff, the lawfully obtained information contained in the warrant application amounted to probable cause. We conclude Jardines applies and affirm.

[¶4] I. BACKGROUND

[¶5] Defendant lives in a three-story apartment building consisting of 12 apartments. The building has two entrances, on the east and west sides, both of which are locked. Defendant lives on the third floor, in apartment No. 10. A storage closet and apartment No. 9 are the only other areas accessible from the third-floor landing. The apartment doors are directly across from one another and the storage-room door faces the stairwell.

[¶6] On January 10, 2013, Matthew Mecum of the Urbana police department went to defendant's apartment building to confirm an address. He was dressed in plain clothes and his badge and firearm were not visible. The entry door was locked, as it was every time he went to the building.

Page 1247

He knocked and a resident let him into the building.

[¶7] At approximately 3:20 a.m. on January 10, 2013, Michael Cervantes of the Urbana police department entered defendant's apartment building with a drug-detection dog named Hunter. Officer Cervantes was let into the building by another police officer. He was specifically interested in apartment No. 10. Once inside, he conducted a sweep of the third-floor landing. He started at apartment No. 9, continued to the storage unit located between the two apartments, and then swept the front door to apartment No. 10. Hunter alerted to the odor of illegal drugs at defendant's front door. Cervantes and Hunter proceeded to the first floor and swept two more apartment doors.

[¶8] On January 10, 2013, Mecum applied for a warrant to search defendant's apartment. The warrant application stated on " 01/10/2012 [sic]," Cervantes and Hunter conducted a sweep of apartment No. 10, " along with three additional apartment doors and a storage closet door." Hunter " alerted" on the " apartment door" of apartment No. 10. Additionally, the warrant application stated the Urbana police department received a " CrimeStoppers" tip defendant was receiving shipments of marijuana from her brother, whose name was unknown. The shipments were from California and on November 21, 2012, defendant received a shipment of two pounds of marijuana. The tipster informed the police defendant was selling approximately two pounds of marijuana a week and the tipster knew this because defendant sold another type of drug to the tipster's girlfriend. The tipster also stated defendant " has a Facebook page showing U.S. currency." The warrant application provided information about defendant's contacts with police in 2003 and 2008, both of which related to the possession of cannabis. Mecum visited defendant's Facebook page and observed " numerous pictures containing images for the legalization of marijuana ***[,] a picture containing actual marijuana ***[,] and a picture containing large amounts of U.S. currency." Mecum had visited defendant's apartment building on January 10, 2013, and observed a package addressed to defendant--it is not clear where in the building the package was located. " The package observed had a return shipping label which listed a [']Ben Jones['] in Oakland[,] California."

[¶9] The same day, a judge granted the search warrant application and police conducted a search of defendant's apartment. The police recovered 1,011.99 grams of cannabis.

[¶10] In January 2013, the State charged defendant as previously described.

[¶11] A. Defendant's Motion To Suppress

[¶12] In April 2013, defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing the warrantless use of a drug-detection dog to sniff the entrance to her apartment was a violation of the fourth amendment (U.S. Const., amend. IV) as held in Jardines.

[¶13] In October 2013, the trial court held a hearing on defendant's motion to suppress. The evidence presented is summarized above. Defendant argued Jardines is not limited to those individuals who live in a single-family residence, because the opinion did not include this information. Rather, all " we know [is] that the entrance to [Jardines'] home was regarded as part of his home." Because Jardines protects against a warrantless dog sniff of a home's entrance, the use of a drug-detection dog to sniff defendant's apartment's door violated the fourth amendment. The State argued Jardines should not be applied because there is a distinction between a single-family residence and a multiunit dwelling. Residents in a multiunit dwelling have a lower reasonable expectation of privacy

Page 1248

because of an apartment building's layout and " any resident in that entire apartment building could walk up to [a]partment [No.] 10." The State argued this court's decision in People v. Trull, 64 Ill.App.3d 385, 380 N.E.2d 1169, 20 Ill.Dec. 960 (1978), which held the common entries and hallways of a locked apartment building were protected by the fourth amendment, relied on federal case law which had been abandoned and therefore should not be followed.

[¶14] Immediately after the hearing, the trial court found the police officers acted in objective good faith on the law as it existed at the time of the search, which was before Jardines was ...


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