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People v. Atchison

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

July 11, 2019

WILLIAM ATCHISON, Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, Appeal No. 3-18-0183 Circuit No. 15-DT-560 Honorable Lisa Y. Wilson, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion Justice Holdridge concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice McDade specially concurred, with opinion.


          O'BRIEN, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 The State appeals following the circuit court's dismissal of a charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) against defendant, William Atchison. The State argues that the court, which dismissed that charge after granting a motion to suppress, was without authority to take such action. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 The State charged defendant via complaint with misdemeanor DUI (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) (West 2014)) and failure to reduce speed (id. § 11-601(a)). Defendant subsequently filed a "Motion to Suppress Evidence and Quash Arrest Made Without Warrant."

         ¶ 4 A hearing on defendant's motion was held on December 10, 2015. Evidence adduced at the hearing showed that defendant was driving with three passengers in the vehicle when he was involved in a rollover accident. Peoria police officer Thomas Bieneman testified that he arrived on the scene, helped the occupants out of the vehicle, and called for an ambulance. All four occupants told emergency medical technicians (EMTs) that they were without injury and refused to go to the hospital. Bieneman then testified at length regarding his observations of defendant, defendant's admission to drinking alcohol, and defendant's performance on a number of field sobriety tests. The court also reviewed a video recording of the traffic stop.

         ¶ 5 On January 7, 2016, the circuit court announced that it would "grant the motion to quash the arrest of the DUI." The court found that Bieneman lacked credibility based on his inexperience and his improper administration of certain field sobriety tests. After the court announced its judgment, the prosecutor immediately inquired: "That would be all evidence collected by the officer after the point of arrest, [Y]our Honor?" The court responded affirmatively. In a corresponding written order filed that same day, the court wrote that "all evidence following the arrest shall be suppressed."

         ¶ 6 After the court denied the State's motion to reconsider, the State filed a certificate of substantial impairment and a notice of appeal. In the certificate, the State twice asserted that it was "unable to proceed to trial in this matter," on account of the court's suppression ruling. The State also asserted that the suppression "substantially impair[ed]" its ability to proceed with the case. On appeal, this court affirmed the circuit court's ruling. People v. Atchison, 2017 IL App (3d) 160214-U.

         ¶ 7 The State then filed a motion in limine in the circuit court regarding the use of certain prearrest evidence. The State asserted that the observations of EMTs at the scene of the accident would not be affected by the prior suppression ruling and should thus be allowed into evidence. The circuit court granted defendant's motion to strike the State's motion. The court cited res judicata, commenting that "I would be standing by my prior decision *** that the arrest was quashed and based upon no probable cause."

         ¶ 8 At a hearing on March 1, 2018, the State informed the court that its evidence at trial would include prearrest observations made by Bieneman, prearrest observations made by EMTs, conversations between defendant and EMTs, and receipts from defendant's dinner on the night in question. Defense counsel objected, arguing that the court had already heard prearrest evidence and concluded that it did not amount to probable cause for an arrest. Counsel concluded: "[T]he State's going to be presenting a case that they know on its face has absolutely no probable cause going forward. They're going to rehash the same information and expect a different result after it's been a dispositive motion, and it's been appealed to the Appeals Court." Counsel requested that the court dismiss the DUI charge.

         ¶ 9 The court, echoing defense counsel's argument, asked the State: "[I]f there's no arrest at this point, where are we going with *** the trial?" The court continued: "[E]ssentially when I granted that motion, I interpreted that that case *** was done." The court also opined that, if defendant proceeded to a bench trial, it could not see how its decision would be any different from its ruling on the motion, especially considering the heightened standard of proof. The court dismissed the DUI charge, and the State once again filed a certificate of impairment and a notice of appeal.

         ¶ 10 II. ANALYSIS

         ¶ 11 On this interlocutory appeal, the State argues that the circuit court did not have authority under section 114-1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) to dismiss the DUI charge. See 725 ILCS 5/114-1 (West 2016). Defendant argues that, not only did the court have the statutory authority to dismiss the charge, but it was constitutionally mandated to do so. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         ¶ 12 Section 114-1 (a) of the Code states:

" (a) Upon the written motion of the defendant made prior to trial before or after a plea has been entered the court may dismiss the indictment, information or complaint upon any of the following grounds:
(1) The defendant has not been placed on trial in compliance with Section 103-5 of this Code.
(2) The prosecution of the offense is barred by Sections 3-3 through 3-8 of the Criminal Code of 2012.
(3) The defendant has received immunity from prosecution for the offense charged.
(4) The indictment was returned by a Grand Jury which was improperly selected and which results in substantial injustice to the defendant.
(5) The indictment was returned by a Grand Jury which acted contrary to Article 112 of this Code and which results in substantial injustice to the defendant.
(6) The court in which the charge has been filed does not have jurisdiction.
(7) The county is an improper place of trial.
(8) The charge does not state an offense.
(9) The indictment is based solely upon the testimony of an ...

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