Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed January 22, 2016



People v. Chambers, 2016 IL 117911


Appellate citation: 2014 IL App (1st) 120147


            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.


            A Cook County jury convicted this defendant of armed violence and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Consecutive sentences of 25 and 45 years were imposed. In 2007, he had been found inside the Markham home of his mother, along with a large quantity of cocaine, cash, weapons and ammunition. A search warrant was served on him there, and he was arrested. At his trial, he challenged the warrant by making repeated requests for the circuit court to conduct what is known as a Franks hearing to determine whether the search warrant was properly issued. In the 1978 United States Supreme Court case of that name, it was held that a defendant in a criminal proceeding has the right, subsequent to the issuance of a search warrant, to challenge the truthfulness of factual statements made in an affidavit supporting the warrant. To do this, he must make a substantial preliminary showing that a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was included by the affiant in the warrant affidavit and was necessary to the finding of probable cause. Here, these requests were denied. After his conviction, Chambers continued to raise this issue in his direct appeal. The appellate court agreed with him and remanded the cause for the holding of his hearing. The State objected and appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. Review of a trial court’s ruling on a motion for a Franks hearing is de novo.

            In this case, a Markham police officer had filed a complaint for the search warrant. He appeared before a judge with a confidential informant identified only as “John Doe,” and both of them signed the complaint, swearing to its truth in the presence of the judge. Throughout these proceedings, the State has relied on the Gorosteata decision rendered by the appellate court in 2007, which held that the requested hearing is not required when the confidential informant appears in court at the warrant proceeding. In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected this bright-line rule and held that the presence of the informant at the hearing on the warrant application does not, standing alone, foreclose the possibility of a Franks hearing, since it is merely a factor to consider. The Gorosteata rule and all cases applying it are overruled.

            The defendant raised a number of discrepancies in seeking the hearing which he wanted, but the supreme court said that it did not have to address all of them in reviewing the decision of the appellate court, because the third motion, along with the alibi affidavits, meets the standard of a substantial preliminary showing. He produced an affidavit from an individual who identified himself as the confidential informant. This affiant said that he accompanied the police officer to the warrant hearing and perjured himself by signing a warrant that he knew was false. He said that this was the result of threats and coercion by the police officer. The supreme court said here that, if the statement of this confidential informant is disregarded, the remaining content of the warrant affidavit is not sufficient to show probable cause, and the defendant is entitled to his hearing, at which witnesses can testify under oath, be cross-examined, and have their credibility assessed by the trial court. This hearing will determine whether warrant must be quashed and the evidence obtained thereby suppressed.