Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed January 22, 2016

 

 

People v. Cummings, 2016 IL 115769

 

Appellate citation: 2013 IL App (3d) 120128

 

††††††††††† CHIEF JUSTICE GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

††††††††††† Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

 

††††††††††† On January 27, 2011, this defendant was driving a van whose registered owner was a woman named Pearlene Chattic. She was the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant, and, because of this, the defendant was stopped by a Sterling police officer. Upon approaching the van, the officer could see that the driver was not a woman, and, thus, could not have been Chattic. Nevertheless, the defendantís driverís license was asked for and he did not have one. He was cited for driving on a suspended license. When brought to trial in the circuit court of Whiteside County, he filed a motion to suppress on fourth amendment grounds and was successful, but the State did not agree and appealed. The appellate court affirmed, as did the Illinois Supreme Court in 2014.

††††††††††† Contesting the suppression, the State sought certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which remanded the cause for consideration in light of its 2015 decision in Rodriguez v. United States. That decision defined the mission of a stop as both addressing the traffic violation which warrants it and also attending to related traffic concerns. It held that, in view of concerns for officersí safety, they may be permitted to make ordinary inquiries incident to a traffic stop, such as asking for a driverís license. However, a bright line was also drawn against using inquiries outside of the mission of a stop to prolong it without the presence of the reasonable suspicion ordinarily required to justify detaining an individual.

††††††††††† On remand to the Illinois Supreme Court, it ruled that the circuit court had erred in entering its suppression order because, where a traffic stop is lawfully initiated, concerns for officer safety entitle the officer to know the identity of the driver with whom he is interacting. Such permissible inquiries include warrant and criminal history checks, as well as requests for a driverís license. Although this officerís original suspicion that the driver was subject to arrest had vanished after he viewed that individual, the officer could still make the ordinary inquiries which are incident to a stop, such as a license request. The interest in officer safety permits a driverís license request of a driver who is lawfully stopped. Such an ordinary inquiry is part of the stopís mission and does not prolong the stop for purposes of the fourth amendment. Thus, a driverís license request of a lawfully stopped driver is permissible irrespective of whether that request directly relates to the purpose of the stop. This officerís request here for the defendantís license did not violate the fourth amendment by prolonging the stop.

††††††††††† The lower courtsí original rulings approving of suppression were reversed, and the cause was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.