People v. Leavitt, 1–12–1323.

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation22 N.E.3d 430
Docket NumberNo. 1–12–1323.,1–12–1323.
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. Jason LEAVITT, Defendant–Appellee.
Decision Date21 November 2014

22 N.E.3d 430

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellant
Jason LEAVITT, Defendant–Appellee.

No. 1–12–1323.

Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division.

Nov. 21, 2014.

22 N.E.3d 435

Anita M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg and Jessica R. Ball, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

Law Office of Thomas P. Needham, of Chicago (Thomas P. Needham and Erin M. Levy, of counsel), for appellee.


Justice REYES delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 The State appeals an order entered in the circuit court of Cook County granting defendant Jason Leavitt's motion to dismiss his indictment pursuant to section 114–1(a)(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/114–1(a)(2) (West 2010)) on statute of limitations grounds. On October 26, 2009, Leavitt was indicted by a Cook County grand jury for the offenses of official misconduct (720 ILCS 5/33–3(b) (West 2006)) and aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12–4 (West 2006) ) for the October 28, 2006, beating of two 15–year–old juvenile detainees. On that same date, the indictment was sealed and remained sealed until November 12, 2010. On appeal, the State contends the circuit court erred in dismissing the indictment on statute of limitations grounds where the indictment was properly returned prior to the expiration of the statutory period. The State further contends the subsequent sealing of the indictment had no impact on the date the indictment was returned for statute of limitations purposes. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court and remand the cause for further proceedings.


¶ 3 On October 26, 2009, the State charged Leavitt, a member of the Park Ridge police department, by indictment for the offenses of official misconduct and aggravated battery. That same day, the State filed a motion to seal the indictment pursuant to section 112–6(b) of the Code (grand jury statute) (725 ILCS 5/112–6(b) (West 2008)). The State presented the motion to the presiding judge of the criminal division and requested the indictment be sealed because there was an ongoing investigation into a conspiracy within the Park Ridge police department to conceal Leavitt's offense. The State argued that, due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, it would serve the interests of justice to seal Leavitt's indictment until the conspiracy investigation was complete. The presiding judge after an ex parte hearing before a court reporter granted the State's request and entered an order sealing the indictment.

¶ 4 On November 12, 2010, upon the State's motion, the presiding judge entered an order unsealing the indictment. Leavitt was subsequently arraigned on November 15, 2010.

¶ 5 On February 25, 2011, Leavitt filed a motion to dismiss the indictment pursuant to section 114–1(a)(2) of the Code (725 ILCS 5/114–1(a)(2) (West 2010)). Leavitt contended that because the indictment remained sealed until November 12, 2010,

22 N.E.3d 436

the prosecution of his case did not commence until after the applicable three-year statute of limitations period had expired (720 ILCS 5/3–5(b) (West 2006)). Leavitt further asserted the only legitimate reason indicated by the grand jury statute (725 ILCS 5/112–6(b) (West 2008)) for sealing an indictment is to secure a defendant's custody. Leavitt maintained there was no legal basis for sealing the indictment, as there was no indication he would flee or attempt to avoid apprehension.

¶ 6 In a June 2011 supplement to his motion to dismiss the indictment, Leavitt also argued the indictment should be dismissed because it infringed on his speedy-trial and due process rights under the sixth and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amends.VI, XIV).

¶ 7 In response, the State asserted the sealing was necessary because the related conspiracy investigation was “very sensitive” as it involved members of the Park Ridge police department. The State also maintained Leavitt was indicted before the three-year statute of limitations had expired and, thus, prosecution had timely commenced.

¶ 8 Attached to the State's response was a transcript of the ex parte hearing regarding the motion to seal the indictment. Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) John Mahoney, who investigated Leavitt's case, stated the following at the hearing on the motion to seal. At 2 a.m. on October 28, 2009, Leavitt, who was off duty, was driving eastbound on Touhy Avenue in Park Ridge, when a projectile struck the back window of his vehicle, shattering it. Leavitt pulled his vehicle over and pursued on foot the three juveniles he believed were responsible for damaging his automobile. Leavitt apprehended one of the juveniles, clubbed him in the back of the head with an unknown object, straddled him, and punched him in the face. Another Park Ridge police officer arrived at the scene by police vehicle and placed the juvenile in handcuffs. As the other officer was leading the juvenile to the police vehicle, Leavitt struck the juvenile again.

¶ 9 The search resumed for the other juveniles. The two police officers cornered a second juvenile and placed him in handcuffs as he was facedown on a concrete driveway. While the juvenile was detained in this manner, Leavitt approached him and kicked him multiple times in the back of the head. Mahoney further testified, “We also have testimony some of the other officers joined in kicking this kid while he is down [in] handcuffs.”

¶ 10 The second juvenile was thereafter placed into a police vehicle. Leavitt, the ranking officer at the scene, ordered another officer to open the back door of that police vehicle. Leavitt then reached into the police vehicle and punched the juvenile in the face “between five to ten times.” The juvenile slid over to the other side of the backseat to avoid being struck by Leavitt. Leavitt then walked around the back of the police vehicle, opened the passenger door and “starts punching the kid again, choking him.”1

¶ 11 ASA Mahoney informed the presiding judge:

“Since that time, judge, there's been a cover up launched in the Park Ridge Police Department from the then police chief * * *, all the way down to the watch commander and the acting chief of the Park Ridge Police Department. We had a sergeant of police * * * come
22 N.E.3d 437
forward and tell us basically everything that happened, although he was not a witness to most of what occurred, several of these officers out cried [sic ] to him, they have now been subpoenaed to the Grand Jury with really disturbing results. * * * [T]he first officer on the scene who pushed Leavitt off [the first juvenile victim], she came in the Grand Jury and took the fifth; she refused to answer questions, she was represented by the law firm * * *.
Subsequent to that, every witness that we have had subpoenaed to come to the Grand Jury has been represented by the same law firm, we—and * * *, who is a police officer present for the beatings and * * *, another police officer who was present for the beatings, testified in the Grand Jury that nothing occurred, which is perjurious * * *.
* * *
And I should point out that this did not come to us until about February of 2009 through an anonymous letter; so, things didn't even really start rolling until March or April; so, it's been very condensed, condensed investigation. We have had to move as quickly as possible. We brought this in house, we've had our own investigators doing it, but we're partnering up with the F.B.I. as well, and the investigation is ongoing into the charges of perjury, subornation of perjury, obstructing justice and conspiracy to commit all of those offenses. We're forced to indict Officer Leavitt as the statute of limitations—[sic ]
COURT: Lieutenant Leavitt.
MR. MAHONEY: I'm sorry, Lieutenant Leavitt, as the statute of limitations runs out on October 27th, that being tomorrow, the incident having occurred early morning hours of October 28th, 2006; so, we have had to indict him.
We are asking you, judge, to seal this indictment because in the interest of justice, I think pretty compellingly point that this open investigation should be allowed to continue, and I don't think that in the end there will be any prejudice to any of the parties.
There's been a civil lawsuit pending in this matter throughout, so, the evidence has been alive and been kicking around for two years and nobody's memory, you know, on the defense side as opposed is getting short; so weighing all those factors, judge, and under [section] 112–6(b), I believe it is, you have the authority to order the sealing of the indictment and through this motion the People of the State of Illinois ask you to do so today.
[ASA] BLAKEY: Additionally, [Y]our Honor, the charges that we're seeking, the return on, are inextricably intertwined with the ongoing covert phases of the investigation as to the obstruction of justice and perjury counts; so,

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