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People v. Jophlin

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

March 20, 2018

JOSEPH M. JOPHLIN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County No. 14CF850 Honorable Thomas E. Griffith Jr., Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion Justices Holder White and Steigmann concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 In June 2015, a jury found defendant, Joseph M. Jophlin, guilty of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol (aggravated DUI), a Class 2 felony (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(A), (d)(2)(B) (West 2014)), and driving while license revoked or suspended with three prior convictions for driving while license revoked or suspended (DWR), a Class 4 felony (id. § 6-303(d-3)). In September 2015, the Macon County circuit court sentenced defendant to four years and two years in prison to run concurrently and ordered defendant to pay specific fines, fees, and assessments. Defendant appeals, arguing (1) the State presented insufficient evidence to support his conviction for aggravated DUI and DWR; (2) the State engaged in vindictive prosecution when it charged him with the more serious offense of aggravated DUI, a Class 2 felony, on the morning of trial, to punish him for exercising his right to a jury trial; (3) the State's repeated violation of the court's in limine order deprived him of his right to a fair trial; and (4) the circuit clerk improperly imposed numerous fines. We affirm in part and vacate in part.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 In July 2014, the State charged defendant by information with aggravated DUI, a Class 4 felony (id. § 11-501(d)(1)(G), (d)(2)(A)) (count I), and DWR with three prior convictions for DWR, a Class 4 felony (id. § 6-303(d-3)) (count II). The charges alleged that, on July 20, 2014, defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (id. § 11-501(a)(2)), on a highway of Illinois, during a period in which defendant's driving privileges were revoked (id. § 6-303(a)).

         ¶ 4 A. Pretrial Hearing

         ¶ 5 At a pretrial hearing on December 12, 2014, the State requested an additional pretrial hearing because defendant had a pending case not yet on file in another county. Defense counsel informed the trial court the reason for the additional hearing was because the State intended to file an additional charge against defendant for aggravated DUI, a Class 2 felony (id. § 11-501(d)(1)(A), (d)(2)(B)) (count III). Defense counsel indicated the change in classification was "based on the defendant's request for a jury trial." The State did not respond to defense counsel's comment. The trial court did not inquire further.

         ¶ 6 B. Defendant's Jury Trial

         ¶ 7 Below, we summarize the testimony elicited during defendant's June 23, 2015, jury trial.

         ¶ 8 1. Defendant's Motion in Limine

         ¶ 9 On the morning of trial, defense counsel filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence relating to results of a preliminary breath test, defendant's prior convictions for DUI, and any evidence offered to "boost the credibility" of the investigating officers, such as evidence of the number of DUI arrests made by the officers or evidence the officers did not arrest everyone stopped for suspected DUI. The trial court ordered, "The state shall not be allowed to introduce into evidence the results of the defendant's preliminary breath test or the defendant's prior convictions for DUI or driving on a revoked or suspended license."

         ¶ 10 2. Count III

         ¶ 11 After the trial court ruled on defendant's motion in limine, the State moved to file count III, charging defendant with aggravated DUI, a Class 2 felony (id.), the aggravating factor being defendant had two prior DUI convictions in 2008 and 2011. Defense counsel stated, "I don't believe there's any basis to object to that, Your Honor." The State moved to dismiss count I with no objection from defense counsel. The State informed the trial court defendant was offered the opportunity to plead "open" to count I prior to filing count III, but defendant rejected the offer. The trial court told defendant he was "taking a risk" by rejecting the deal on the Class 4 felony and proceeding to trial on a Class 2 felony. Defendant acknowledged he understood, and the case proceeded.

         ¶ 12 3. Civilian Witnesses' Testimony

         ¶ 13 The State called David Karius as a witness. Karius, a P&V gas station employee, testified he had worked at the P&V gas station in Macon, Illinois, for 15 years. On July 20, 2014, Karius testified he was on duty around 3 a.m. when he observed a maroon vehicle enter the gas station parking lot and pull up to gas pump five directly in front of him. Karius was outside when the vehicle pulled up and stated there was only one person in the vehicle. Karius estimated the vehicle remained at the gas pump for roughly 20 or 30 minutes before the vehicle started to overheat, causing it to smoke and leak fluid.

         ¶ 14 Two gas station patrons approached the vehicle to wake the driver but did not get a response. Karius then called the sheriff's department to report an overheating vehicle with an unresponsive driver. At some point after Karius called the police, a friend of Karius arrived, opened the door to the vehicle, and "shook the driver awake." Karius said the driver woke up and came into the gas station to use the restroom. Karius identified the driver of the vehicle as defendant, Joseph M. Jophlin.

         ¶ 15 The State next called Austin Webb as a witness. Webb testified he was a customer of the gas station on July 20, 2014. Webb, upon arriving at the gas station, noticed a smoking vehicle at one of the gas pumps. Webb was worried and tried to wake the driver. Webb first tried tapping on the window but did not get a response. Then, Webb hit the roof of the vehicle. Webb still did not get a response, so he opened the door and shook the driver awake. The driver got out of the vehicle and went into the gas station. Webb identified the driver as defendant and noted he was the only one in the vehicle.

         ¶ 16 The State next called Shelby Cohn as a witness. Cohn testified she accompanied Webb to the gas station on July 20, 2014. Cohn said, when they arrived, she noticed a vehicle overheating in the lot. Cohn observed Webb try to wake up the driver as well as turn the vehicle off. Cohn identified the driver as defendant and as the only occupant of the vehicle. Cohn said, when defendant got out of the vehicle, he "seemed very out of it, very incoherent."

         ¶ 17 4. Police Witnesses' Testimony

         ¶ 18 The State called Detective Roger Pope Jr. as a witness. Detective Pope testified he had been with the Macon County Sheriff's Department for 13 years and had been on duty the morning of July 20, 2014. Detective Pope was dispatched to the P&V gas station for an individual passed out in an overheating vehicle. Upon arrival, Detective Pope observed a maroon Chevy Lumina at pump five with no one inside. Detective Pope went inside the gas station and observed the clerk and another individual, later identified as defendant.

         ¶ 19 Detective Pope testified he had encountered intoxicated individuals previously in his employment. Defense counsel objected to this testimony saying, "I'm going to object on the basis of my previous motion." The trial court declined to allow a sidebar and overruled the objection, noting it was proper foundation for the officer's opinion regarding defendant's intoxication. Detective Pope continued, stating he worked the third shift and over his career he had encountered "a few thousand" intoxicated individuals.

         ¶ 20 Detective Pope opined defendant was "extremely intoxicated" on July 20, 2014. Defendant displayed a slow reaction in answering questions and exhibited a "dazed stare" when Detective Pope spoke to him. Defendant told Detective Pope he consumed alcohol earlier in the evening. Defendant smelled of alcohol and had red, bloodshot eyes. Defendant denied the vehicle belonged to him; rather, the vehicle belonged to a friend, but he stated he had permission to drive it. It was later determined the vehicle belonged to defendant's mother. Defendant stated he had been in Decatur, Illinois, earlier in the evening and several times told Detective Pope, "I never told you I drove." Detective Pope, after speaking with defendant, turned the case over to Deputy Sheriff Matt Jedlicka.

         ¶ 21 The State next called Deputy Sheriff Matt Jedlicka as a witness. Deputy Sheriff Jedlicka testified he had been with the Macon County Sheriff's Department going on 11 years and was dispatched to the P&V gas station on July 20, 2014, to check on the welfare of a male asleep in a vehicle. Deputy Sheriff Jedlicka made contact with defendant after arriving at the gas station. Defendant told Deputy Sheriff Jedlicka he had consumed "a few" Bud Light beers earlier in the evening at a bar called Sliderz in Decatur, Illinois. Defendant denied driving and denied being asleep or woken up by anyone. Defendant refused to perform a field sobriety test and was put under arrest. Once at jail, defendant declined chemical analysis of his body.

         ¶ 22 The State asked Deputy Sheriff Jedlicka, in the course of his work, how many times he had encountered intoxicated individuals. Defense counsel objected for the same reason as he did for Detective Pope, which the trial court overruled. Deputy Sheriff Jedlicka testified his best estimate was he would observe 20 to 30 intoxicated persons per week in conjunction with his duties as a sheriff's deputy. Deputy Sheriff Jedlicka testified to defendant's eyes being red, ...

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