Pro se defendant files motion to dismiss his speeding ticket based on a violation of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 552. This private citizen uncovered a pattern of chronic rule violations by his local police department. He tried to reveal it to the State’s Attorney’s Office, but they rebuffed him. So he took it to court and won!
See People v. Geiler, 2015 IL App (5th) 140423 (02/11/2015).
Defendant was issued a speeding ticket by the City of Troy in Madison County, Illinois for driving 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
This ticket was filed with the circuit clerk 4 days later. So Defendant files a pro se motion to dismiss based on this violation.
But Dude did his homework, and he knew the law.
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 552
The Illinois Supreme Court Rules say that police departments should file tickets with 48 hours after a ticket is issued. Specifically, the language of the rule says, in part that:
“…The arresting officer shall complete the form or ticket and, within 48 hours after the arrest, shall transmit the portions entitled “Complaint” and “Disposition Report” and, where appropriate, “Report of Conviction,” either in person or by mail, to the clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the violation occurred…”
But The Case Law Says…
This Defendant knew there was more to the story than just the rule.
First, the rule exists “to ensure judicial efficiency and uniformity as well as ‘to expedite the handling of traffic cases’”. ¶ 9 citing People v. Hanna, 185 Ill. App. 3d 404, 408 (1989); quoting People v. Roberts, 113 Ill. 4 App. 3d 1046, 1050 (1983).
Second, Illinois Supreme Court rules are never “discretionary”. In other words a rule by the big boys and women is meant to be followed. Lower courts, litigants, and the police generally can’t pick and choose which rules to follow.
However, the Illinois Supreme Court does go to the trouble of distinguishing “directory” rules from mandatory rules.
“…a statute [or rule] which specifies the time for the performance of an official duty will be considered directory only where the rights of the parties cannot be injuriously affected by failure to act within the time indicated…”
¶ 10 citing Hanna, 185 Ill. App. 3d at 409; quoting Carrigan v. Illinois Liquor Control Comm’n, 19 Ill. 2d 230, 233 (1960).
The main characteristic of a directory rule is that it is not mandatory.
Clearly, when we are talking about the difference between filing a traffic ticket within 48 hours compared to 4 days we have a “directory” rule. Neither private rights nor the public interest is injured with a violation of the “48 hour rule”.
However, the Illinois Supreme Court Rule does not make rules, just so they can be ignored.
Dismissal of a traffic ticket is still warranted and proper when a litigant can demonstrate that “the procedure used by the officer or police department was a part of a pattern of clear and consistent violation of Rule 552.” ¶ 11 citing Hanna, 185 Ill. App. 3d at 410.
And Boy, He Came To Court Prepared
So This Defendant needed to essentially demonstrate to the court that not only did the Troy Police Department file his ticket late; they also have a problem filing other tickets on time.
Defendant did his homework. He showed up to court with a stack of tickets that had all been filed late by the police department.
But then a detective testified and solidified the case for Defendant.
The detective essentially said that Monday and Friday are the days that citations are transferred to the courthouse.
You see, it is “impossible” to transfer tickets more frequently. It became apparent that this “system” created by the police department left huge gaps where many tickets simply were not going to be filed within the 48 hour requirement.
“But What About Rule 552 Officer?“
When asked about the 48 hour requirement of Rule 552, the detective acknowledged that the department was aware of it.
Then he explained, however, that “[It's not a mandate…[T]his is our decision that if you can get them up in 48 hours, if possible, that’s the way it should be.” ¶ 5.
In other words, “We will file them when we want; we're the police, leave us the f@#* alone.”
Can you say “pattern of clear and consistent violation of Rule 552”?
What Do You Mean by “Impossible”?
It was impossible for the police to follow the rules! Now how can that be? What did they mean by impossible?
Clearly, the detective was not using the word the way normal English speakers use and know the word to be.
What is going on in the Troy Police Department to make honoring Rule 552 impossible? It must be some “mom & pop” police operation over there. If the detective is “pop,” he must not be able to make the 20 mile trek to the courthouse. He must have some type of disability. Also, his police issued, battery operated scooter probably can’t make it that far on one charge. And “Mom”? Well forget about her making it. She’s involved in a big federal case that has her deep undercover in a nursing home investigating cafeteria fraud. Its definitel impossible for her to make it to the courthouse to file the tickets.
Impossible to this guy meant that it was impossible under the completely arbitrary schedule they came up with and that was most convenient to them.
Clearly, when they were advised that Rule 552 is not mandatory they took that as a signal that they were free to do what they want. But that is not the law!
I Love This Case and This Defendant
This defendant has done a great job of revealing one of those the things that drives us all crazy in criminal defense.
Sometimes we are actually right on the law or on the facts, and we bring it to the attention of the authorities and no action is taken.
Remember, Defendnt took his stack of tickets demonstrating other violations to the State, and they refused to dismiss. They even appealed the trial judge’s dismissal.
Thank you Christopher M. Geiler for demonstrating to the police that they too must follow the rules.
The appellate court upheld the trial judge’s decision to grant Defendant’s motion to dismiss his traffic ticket issued by the Troy City Police Department.