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People v. Blackwood

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

August 12, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JUSTIN M. BLACKWOOD, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Rock Island County, Illinois. Circuit No. 12-DT-156 Honorable William S. McNeal, Judge, presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: James E. Chadd, Peter A. Carusona, and Bryon Kohut, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Ottawa, for appellant.

          Attorneys for Appellee: John L. McGehee, State's Attorney, of Rock Island (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and Steven A. Rodgers, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          CARTER, JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McDade and Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          CARTER, JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Following a jury trial, defendant Justin M. Blackwood was found guilty of misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) (West 2012)). The Rock Island County circuit court sentenced defendant to 14 days in jail and 12 months of probation. Defendant appealed, arguing that his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to request Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, Civil, No. 5.01 (2011) (hereinafter IPI Civil (2011)), under which jurors would be instructed that an adverse inference may be drawn against the State regarding defendant's performance on field sobriety tests where the arresting officer administered field sobriety testing to defendant outside of the view of the squad car's operable dashboard video camera. We affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Defendant was charged with DUI (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(2) (West 2012)) and possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4 (West 2012)). At defendant's jury trial, Officer Nick Wade of the City of Moline Police Department testified that at 3 a.m. on March 2, 2012, defendant drove by him. Wade and defendant made eye contact as they passed each other, and then defendant immediately made a left turn into a gas station. Wade thought defendant's abrupt turn was "a little suspicious," so he stopped on the side of the road and waited for defendant to pull out of the gas station. Defendant pulled out of the gas station and then made a right turn on 16th Avenue without signaling. Wade followed defendant's vehicle, intending to initiate a traffic stop because defendant had failed to signal the turn. As Wade turned onto 16th Avenue, defendant abruptly turned left into an alley without signaling and parked on a concrete pad that served as a private driveway. Wade testified, "[i]t seemed like the turn was unplanned" and described the turn as a "fast turn" as if defendant was not sure where he was going.

         ¶ 4 Wade initiated a traffic stop of defendant's vehicle for failure to signal a turn and parked behind defendant's vehicle at a 45-degree angle to block in defendant's vehicle. Wade was approached by the resident of the home, who informed Wade that he did not know defendant's car or the reason that defendant had parked in his driveway. Wade smelled alcohol on defendant's breath immediately upon contact with defendant. There were three passengers in defendant's vehicle. Defendant had red, watery eyes and mumbled and slurred his speech. Defendant had no explanation for parking in the driveway of a stranger. Defendant did not have any trouble providing his driver's license or getting out of his car. When Wade administered field sobriety tests to defendant, defendant showed signs that he had been consuming alcohol. Defendant's three passengers also appeared intoxicated. Wade believed defendant was intoxicated and unfit to drive because it was bar-closing time, defendant was driving a car full of people, defendant had driven as if he did not know where he was going, defendant had appeared to have attempted to avoid Wade's police vehicle when he pulled into a random driveway with no explanation for doing so, there was an odor of alcohol, defendant's eyes were red and watery, defendant's speech was slurred, and defendant showed signs of impairment on the field sobriety testing. Based on his training and experience, Wade opined that defendant was intoxicated and unfit to drive. Wade placed defendant under arrest.

         ¶ 5 Wade transported defendant to the police department for further DUI processing. After a 20-minute observation period, defendant refused to take a breath test.

         ¶ 6 Wade's police car was equipped with video recording equipment, and the traffic stop of defendant's vehicle had been recorded. Wade testified that the video showed him making the traffic stop and showed him having defendant exit the car. The testing was not conducted in front of Wade's vehicle so that it could be captured on the video. Wade explained that the reason the field sobriety tests were not conducted in front of the dashboard camera was because Wade had parked his squad car in a way to block in defendant's vehicle and Wade and defendant went off camera to a "flat area" for the field sobriety testing.

         ¶ 7 On cross-examination, Wade testified that that he did not reposition his squad car in order to capture the field sobriety testing on video camera because there were three other occupants in the vehicle, "not all of which were being very cooperative with [the officers], and one of [whom] ha[d] a very violent history with [police]." Wade wanted to keep defendant's car blocked in "so nobody could get in it and leave in it." Wade indicated that the main reason he did not reposition his vehicle was out of concern for "an officer-safety and a public safety issue." In addition, the alleyway was "tight" and other officers had arrived on scene. Wade testified that he would have moved his squad car "if it was a reasonable thing to do." On redirect, the prosecutor asked, "how overwhelming was the smell of the alcoholic beverage?" Wade responded, "very strong."

         ¶ 8 Officer Eric Wells testified that he arrived at the traffic stop to back up Wade. Two other officers also arrived at the traffic stop. Wells began to speak with defendant's passengers. Wells testified that the passengers all "seemed very intoxicated." The passengers had slurred speech, smelled of alcohol, and staggered a little. After defendant was arrested, Wells conducted a tow inventory search of defendant's vehicle and found a plastic bag containing cannabis under the driver's seat.

         ¶ 9 In closing arguments, defendant's attorney argued, in part:

"There is a video on the officer's squad car. Now, that was not helpful in any way because it did not show these field sobriety tests. Now, if that had been provided, would that show you objectively what ...

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