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People v. Lomeli

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

December 15, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
FABIAN LOMELI, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois, Circuit No. 15-TR-16380 Honorable Daniel L. Kennedy, Judge, Presiding.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lytton and Schmidt concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HOLDRIDGE, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 The defendant, Fabian Lomeli, appeals his conviction for driving on a suspended license, arguing that the court erred in granting the State's motion for directed finding at the close of the defendant's evidence during a motion to suppress.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On March 11, 2015, the defendant was issued traffic citations for having an obstructed windshield (625 ILCS 5/12-503(c) (West 2014)) and driving on a suspended license (625 ILCS 5/6-303(a) (West 2014)). The defendant filed a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, alleging that Officer Shaughnessy did not have a sufficient basis for a traffic stop where he "unreasonably determined the object reportedly hanging from the Defendant's rearview mirror was a material obstruction." A hearing on the motion was held on September 21, 2015. Shaughnessy testified that on March 11, 2015, he was a patrol officer for the City of Joliet and was on duty around 8 p.m. It was dark, and he observed a vehicle in front of him. He followed the vehicle for a block or two and observed an object hanging from the rearview mirror. He did not recall what the object was. He initiated a traffic stop based off the object suspended in the rearview mirror. Shaughnessy went to the defendant's passenger side window and asked the defendant for his driver's license and insurance. The defendant gave Shaughnessy his firearm owner's identification card. Shaughnessy ran the defendant's information and found that the defendant had a suspended license. He then issued the defendant citations for having an obstructed windshield and driving on a suspended license. The following exchange took place:

"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: What is a material obstruction?
[SHAUGHNESSY]: A material obstruction is something that blocks the view of the driver.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Is everything that hangs and is between the driver and the windshield a material obstruction?
[SHAUGHNESSY]: No.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Have you had any training on what is and what is not a material obstruction?
[SHAUGHNESSY]: No."

         ¶ 4 Shaughnessy was shown photographs of the vehicle and the windows. After viewing the photographs, he stated that there was slight tinting to the back and side windows. He noted that in the windshield was a rosary and an I-Pass. He agreed that the rosary was the item he had observed hanging from the rearview mirror. Defense counsel asked Shaughnessy how big the rosary was, and Shaughnessy replied that it was "[n]ot very big, " and approximately "[a] half inch" thick. On cross-examination, the following exchange occurred:

"[STATE]: Officer, you observed a vehicle with what reasonably appeared to be an obstruction ...

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