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.

People v. 2004 Mercury Mountaineer

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

September 10, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
v.
2004 MERCURY MOUNTAINEER, Respondent, and ASHLEY RAMSEY and ISLAND CITY MOTORS, a/k/a ISLAND CITY AUTO, Claimants-Appellees. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
v.
2006 JEEP COMMANDER, Respondent, and ASHLEY RAMSEY and ISLAND CITY MOTORS, a/k/a ISLAND CITY AUTO, Claimants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois. Circuit Nos. 17-MR-2844, 17-MR-2846 The Honorable Carmen Julia Lynn Goodman, Judge, presiding.

          JUSTICE CARTER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Schmidt and Justice McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          CARTER JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 After seizing two vehicles belonging to claimant-Island City Motors, a/k/a Island City Auto (Island City)-petitioner, the People of the State of Illinois (State), filed a petition asking the trial court to make a preliminary determination that the vehicles may be subject to forfeiture under Illinois drug laws. Following a hearing, the trial court found that the State had failed to establish probable cause for the forfeiture of the vehicles and ordered that the vehicles be returned to Island City. The State filed a motion to reconsider, which the trial court denied. The State appeals. We reverse the trial court's judgment and remand this case to the trial court with directions and for further proceedings.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 In October 2017, the Braidwood Police Department seized the two vehicles in question, a 2004 Mercury Mountaineer and a 2006 Jeep Commander. The vehicles belonged to claimant, Island City. Less than a week later, the State filed a notice and petition for a preliminary determination hearing under section 3.5 of the Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act (Forfeiture Act) (725 ILCS 150/3.5 (West 2016)), asking the trial court to find that there was probable cause that the two vehicles may be subject to forfeiture.[1] Notice was provided to the two possible claimants listed on the petition, Ashley Ramsey (Ashley) and Island City.

         ¶ 4 In November 2017, a hearing was held on the petition. Both claimants were present in court for the hearing, although it is not clear from the record who exactly appeared in court on behalf of Island City. At the hearing, the State represented that police reports indicated that the Braidwood Police Department had conducted an undercover drug operation using a confidential source to buy drugs. On July 25, 2017, an individual later identified as Ashley sold four grams of cocaine to the confidential source while inside the 2006 Jeep Commander in the McDonald's parking lot in Braidwood, Illinois, while the police officers watched. On September 8, 2017, an individual later identified as Ashley sold four grams of cocaine to a confidential source while inside the 2004 Mercury Mountaineer in the parking lot of the Dollar General store in Braidwood while the police officers watched. The Braidwood Police Department later obtained warrants for Ashley, which they executed on October 19, 2017, and were able to seize both vehicles at that time. The representative for Island City told the trial court that Ashley was merely test driving the vehicles on the dates in question and that the vehicles belonged to Island City, which was a corporation. Upon inquiry in court, Ashley stated that she had previously worked for Island City but was not working for Island City on the dates that the two offenses were allegedly committed.

         ¶ 5 At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court found that the State had failed to establish that probable cause existed for the forfeiture of the vehicles and ordered that the vehicles be returned to Island City. In making its ruling, the trial court stated, in pertinent part:

"Well, I am going to tell you why I have got a problem with this. I don't know what is going on with Ms. Ramsey. They had an arrest warrant but they seized the vehicle. They didn't seize the vehicle at the time. And it comes back to a corporation. The whole idea to take property at the end of the day is to stop criminal activity, to stop the perpetrator from criminal activity.
I know that's a trial matter but this is a little bit different. I go to a dealership, I drive a car, I make a deal and they take it from the dealership and the dealership gets punished. I could have left my car in the parking lot to go test drive the other one, if what this gentleman is saying is true. And there is some basis for it because they put Island City Motors where they had to pick up the vehicles, am I correct, that she was using because they took the license plates off of each one of them? Now, they might all be connected but it ain't enough nexus for me to say that Island City Motors that had these vehicles for sale get punished for the actions of someone-clearly of someone else.
Even as an employee, it is not her vehicle that is owned by her. Even if she was driving it around as an employee, there is not enough nexus here. I can't find probable cause under these circumstances for the vehicle, and it is to be returned to Island City Motors.
Okay. No probable cause. Sir, get these vehicles back. All right."

         ¶ 6 In December 2017, the State filed a motion to reconsider and set forth additional facts that were not known at the time of the preliminary determination hearing. Attached to the motion to reconsider were numerous supporting documents, including a Secretary of State corporate record, Ashley's bond sheet, and an affidavit of assets and liabilities that Ashley had filed in the trial court. The supporting documents showed that Mark Ramsey (Mark) was the president and secretary of Island City, that Mark was Ashley's father, that Mark and Ashley lived at the same address, that the business address of Island City was the same as the home address of Mark and Ashley, and that the vehicles were seized at the home/business address. Among other things, the State asserted in the motion that the trial court should not have considered any issues as to whether Ashley was test driving the vehicles, whether the corporation was an owner of the vehicles, or whether Ashley was an employee of Island City, as those issues were not relevant to a probable cause determination.

         ¶ 7 In January 2018, a hearing was held on the motion to reconsider. Neither claimant appeared in court for the hearing. After listening to the State's argument, the trial court ...


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.