People v. Flatt, 78-197

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtBARRY; STENGEL; STOUDER
Citation31 Ill.Dec. 731,75 Ill.App.3d 930,394 N.E.2d 1049
Parties, 31 Ill.Dec. 731 PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Andrew FLATT, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 78-197,78-197
Decision Date29 August 1979

Page 1049

394 N.E.2d 1049
75 Ill.App.3d 930, 31 Ill.Dec. 731
PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Andrew FLATT, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 78-197.
Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District.
Aug. 29, 1979.

[75 Ill.App.3d 931]

Page 1050

[31 Ill.Dec. 732] John X. Breslin, State's Attorneys Appellate Service Commission, Ottawa, Michael M. Mihm, State's Atty., Peoria County, Peoria, for plaintiff-appellant.

Michael Filipovic, Robert Agostinelli, Deputy Defender, Ottawa, for defendant-appellee.

BARRY, Justice:

The defendant, Andrew Flatt, was charged by indictment, in Peoria County, with burglary. Subsequent to the return of the indictment the defendant filed a motion to produce physical evidence seeking specifically a broken plate glass window which allegedly had defendant's fingerprints on it. The investigating police had allegedly lifted the [75 Ill.App.3d 932] fingerprints from the broken glass at the scene, but had not gathered or preserved the actual piece of broken glass. The trial court granted the defendant's motion to produce, but the prosecution was unable to provide the glass which had not been reduced to their possession. Peoria police officer Gary Siebenthal testified that he had left the piece of broken glass after obtaining the fingerprints in the living room of the burglarized house as it was not normal policy for the Peoria Police Department to keep large pieces of broken glass in their property room. The officer further testified that he assumed the owner of the burglarized premises had disposed of the broken glass. After empaneling a jury and calling the case for trial, the court ruled that the latent fingerprints evidence and prosecution expert analysis witness' testimony would not be allowed. The trial court entered a written order which recited that the defendant's motion in limine to suppress the fingerprint evidence was granted, and upon a motion of the People to file an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Ill.Rev.Stat.1977, ch. 38, par. 114-12, the trial was terminated. From a careful reading of the transcript of proceedings it seems quite

Page 1051

[31 Ill.Dec. 733] clear that the trial court intended by his oral ruling and written order to suppress the fingerprint evidence of the People. This appeal was then bought by the People pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604. Ill.Rev.Stat.1977, ch. 110A, par. 604.

On appeal the State has presented only a single issue: Whether the trial court committed reversible error in suppressing evidence derived from source evidence it had ordered the State to produce, which source evidence had been examined by the State at the scene of the crime but not reduced to their possession. Stated in another way the precise issue is, whether it was a violation of defendant's due process rights for the State to fail to preserve the object from which latent fingerprints were lifted for defendant's inspection.

The defendant has initially raised as a counterargument that the appeal should be dismissed because the order appealed from is not one from which the State may lawfully appeal. Because this argument raises a question of appellate jurisdiction it will be resolved first. The State's right to appeal in criminal cases is controlled by the language of Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1), (Ill.Rev.Stat.1977, ch. 110A, par. 604(a)(1)), which provides in pertinent part:

"In criminal cases the State may appeal only from an order or judgment the substantive effect of which results in dismissing a charge for any of the grounds enumerated in Section 114-1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963; arresting judgment because of a defective indictment, information or complaint; quashing an arrest or search warrant; or suppressing evidence."

[75 Ill.App.3d 933] The defendant contends that the order appealed from is not a suppression order within the context of Supreme Court Rule 604 because it is not an order barring the use of evidence for the reason it has been illegally obtained by the State. The defendant's argument is that an interlocutory appeal by the State from a suppression order is only proper when the suppression is based on either an involuntary confession or an unlawful search and seizure. People v. Van De Rostyne (1976), 63 Ill.2d 364, 349 N.E.2d 16; People v. Koch (1973), 15 Ill.App.3d 386, 304 N.E.2d 482. It is contended that the trial court ruling here was an evidentiary one, excluding evidence, and was not appealable by the State simply having been labeled "an order suppressing evidence." See People v. Thady (1971), 133 Ill.App.2d 795, 270 N.E.2d 861. In the Van De Rostyne case the defendant sought to have the results of a breathalyzer test, in a driving while intoxicated case, suppressed on the grounds that it had been administered by improper procedures. The Supreme Court, citing the Thady case, ruled that the order was one which merely excluded evidence and was not appealable under Supreme Court Rule 604 as an order suppressing evidence. We have examined the underlying facts in the cases which defendant argues support his theory. We believe those cases are factually distinguishable from the facts of the present case.

A careful reading of Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) discloses that the State may appeal from an order the substantive effect of which results in suppressing evidence. The transcript of the arguments of counsel, the trial judge's statements, and the written order of the court all indicate that the trial court action was a suppression of evidence here. While we acknowledge that the trial judge's characterization of his own action is not controlling (See U. S. v. Scott (1978), 437 U.S. 82, 98 S.Ct. 2187, 57 L.Ed.2d 65), we believe it is one of the facts which must be considered. The reason given by the trial court for suppressing the fingerprint evidence and expert testimony of the State in this case was that the police securing the evidence without preserving its source violated defendant's right to due process under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. We conclude therefore that the trial...

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6 cases
  • People v. Flatt, 52621
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 17, 1980
    ...motion to file an interlocutory appeal. The appellate [82 Ill.2d 257] court, with one justice dissenting, reversed and remanded. (75 Ill.App.3d 930, 31 Ill.Dec. 731, 394 N.E.2d 1049.) We granted defendant's petition for leave to In this court, defendant asserts that the appellate court wron......
  • People v. Young, 52482
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 17, 1980
    ...604(a)(1) that allows appeal from an order dismissing a case than on the "suppressing evidence" language. In People v. Flatt (1979), 75 Ill.App.3d 930, 31 Ill.Dec. 731, 394 N.E.2d 1049, vacated and remanded (1980), 82 Ill.2d 250, --- Ill.Dec. ---, 412 N.E.2d 509, the appellate court held th......
  • People v. Montgomery, 78-1318
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • May 27, 1980
    ...398 N.E.2d 97; People v. Young (2nd Dist. 1979), 76 Ill.App.3d 210, 30 Ill.Dec. 135, 392 N.E.2d 790; People v. Flatt (3rd Dist. 1979), 75 Ill.App.3d 930, 31 Ill.Dec. 731, 394 N.E.2d 1049; People v. Phipps (4th Dist. 1979), 79 Ill.App.3d 532, 34 Ill.Dec. 827, 398 N.E.2d 650; People v. Jackso......
  • People v. Howard, 83-923
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • February 19, 1985
    ...925, 469 N.E.2d 569; see also California v. Trombetta (1984), 467 U.S. 479, 104 S.Ct. 2528, 81 L.Ed.2d 413; People v. Flatt (1979), 75 Ill.App.3d 930, 31 Ill.Dec. 731, 394 N.E.2d 1049, vacated on other grounds, (1980), 82 Ill.2d 250, 45 Ill.Dec. 158, 412 N.E.2d We next consider whether the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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