Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Village of Mount Prospect v. Kurtev

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

December 5, 2017

VILLAGE OF MOUNT PROSPECT, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARTIN KURTEV, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Nos. YE 311-081 YE 311-082 Honorable James P. Pieczonka, Judge presiding.

          JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.Presiding Justice Neville and Justice Pucinski concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          JUSTICE MASON

         ¶ 1 Following a bench trial, defendant Martin Kurtev was found guilty of speeding and disobeying a traffic control signal in the Village of Mount Prospect (Village). Kurtev appeals pro se, arguing the circuit court erred when it did not accept his "defense" that the Village failed to show the relevant speed limit signs, traffic control devices, and road markings complied with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and the speed limit was established based on an engineering study. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 Kurtev was charged by citations with speeding (driving 16 miles per hour over the posted speed limit) and disobeying a traffic signal (a red light) in the Village. Village police officer Melendez was the only witness at trial. He testified that he was on routine traffic patrol in the area of Golf Road and Oakwood Drive on August 19, 2016. The moving radar in his vehicle was activated. He had checked it prior to his shift and it was calibrated and working properly. Around 2:44 a.m., Melendez was driving westbound on Golf Road, which had a posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour. As he approached Busse Road, he observed the traffic light turn red. Melendez was familiar with the traffic light at the intersection and knew that, if the light was red for westbound traffic, it was also red for eastbound traffic.

         ¶ 3 Melendez was about 100 feet from the intersection, with a clear view of the incoming traffic, when he saw a 2015 Mitsubishi travel eastbound on Golf Road through the red light at the intersection. As the car drove through the intersection, Melendez's radar captured the vehicle traveling at 56 miles per hour. The Mitsubishi was the only vehicle on the road at the time. After observing the traffic violations, Melendez initiated a traffic stop and issued two citations to Kurtev, the driver, for speeding and running the red light. He rechecked his radar equipment; it was calibrated and working properly.

         ¶ 4 At the close of the Village's case, Kurtev pro se moved for a directed finding, arguing "deficiencies in the evidentiary foundation" of the Village's case. He argued that the Village failed to establish that the speed limit, traffic control devices, and markings on the road where the violations occurred had been set by and conformed to the standards of the MUTCD. Kurtev claimed MUTCD was adopted as the national standard for all traffic control devices on any public street or highway, and it preempted state traffic control laws. He also claimed the Village did not produce the engineering studies required to establish the legality of the speed limit and traffic control devices under MUTCD. Kurtev asserted that, without these engineering surveys, the speed limit and traffic lights were unlawfully posted and his citations based thereon should be dismissed. The trial court denied the motion.[1]

         ¶ 5 Kurtev presented no evidence, and the court found him guilty of both violations. It issued a $200 fine on the speeding offense, plus fees and costs, and supervision on the red light violation.

         ¶ 6 Kurtev appeals pro se, but his argument is unclear. He states the issue as: "Did the circuit court err when it did not accept Kurtev's defense that traffic citations should be dismissed if they are issued for alleged violations of illegal, fictitious, and/or arbitrary/capricious speed limit signs and traffic control devices, after Kurtev had questioned and the prosecution had failed to establish that these traffic regulation signs and devices are legal and conform to the federal law requirements set out in [MUTCD]." Kurtev contends "the dispositive issue" is whether the defense "can be asserted in a case involving charges of driving at a speed in excess of a posted speed limit and failure to stop at a red traffic light."

         ¶ 7 But the record shows the court did not prevent Kurtev from presenting this defense, as it allowed him to make an extensive argument setting forth the defense in his oral motion for a directed finding. Accordingly, the dispositive issue is not whether Kurtev's defense "can be asserted." Rather, it is whether the trial court erred in rejecting the defense and finding Kurtev guilty of the traffic violations.

         ¶ 8 Kurtev was charged by citation with violating Village code section 18-601(B) for driving a vehicle upon a highway in the Village at 16 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, a speed greater than the applicable statutory maximum speed limit. Mount Prospect Village Code § 18.601(B) (adopted 1981). He was also charged with violating Village code section 18.306(C) for disobeying a traffic control signal, specifically failing to stop at a red traffic light and entering an intersection while the light is red. Mount Prospect Village Code § 18.306(C) (adopted 1981).

         ¶ 9 The Village municipal traffic code follows the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/1-100 et seq. (West 2016)), which the Village "adopted by reference in its entirety." Mount Prospect Village Code § 18.100 (eff. July 1, 2014). Under section 11-301(a) of the Illinois Vehicle Code, MUTCD was adopted in Illinois to govern local traffic control devices. 625 ILCS 5/11-301(a) (West 2016); Francis v. Mills, 214 Ill.App.3d 122, 124 (1991). The Village code provides that, except for offenses inapplicable here, "[a]ny proceeding resulting from a violation of an Illinois vehicle code regulation, written as a violation of the village code, shall be deemed to be a civil matter for purposes of burden of proof and rules of court." Mount Prospect Village Code § 18.100 (eff. July 1, 2014).

         ¶ 10 With regard to burdens of proof, the Village code provides that driving at "excessive speed shall be deemed prima facie evidence that such person is driving at a speed greater than is reasonable, proper and safe, having regard to traffic conditions and the use of the street, or endangers the safety of any person or property." Mount Prospect Village Code § 18.602 (adopted 1981). In other words, proof of driving in excess of a posted speed limit raises a rebuttable presumption that the statute has been violated and this presumption is sufficient to establish the prosecution's prima facie case. See People v. Perlman, 15 Ill.App.2d 239, 244-45 (1957). Similarly, an official traffic control device "shall be presumed to *** comply with the requirements of [the Illinois Vehicle Code], unless the contrary shall be established by competent evidence." 625 ILCS 5/11-305(d) (West 2016); adopted by reference in Mount Prospect Village Code § 18.100 (eff. July 1, 2014).

         ¶ 11 Officer Melendez's testimony amply established the elements for both speeding and failing to stop at a red light beyond a reasonable doubt. As summarized above, the Village's evidence of the violations was unrebutted, and it ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.