Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Use Of Recent Supreme Court Cases Wins Motion

On April 21, 2009, we published an article about the Supreme Court's decision in Arizona v. Gant. The Supreme Court severely limited police officers power to search vehicles after an arrest. In Arizona v. Gant, the defendant had been pulled over for a traffic violation. The police officer determined that he did not have a license and placed him under arrest. He was handcuffed and placed in the back of the police vehicle. The officer then searched the vehicle and discovered a gun and drugs. The Supreme Court ruled that the search of the vehicle was unreasonable and ruled that the evidence seized in the search had to be suppressed. The court ruled that in order to search the vehicle the defendant had to be close enough to the vehicle as to pose a risk that he could grab a weapon out of the car or that the police had a reasonable belief that they would find evidence related to the reason that the defendant had been arrested.

Today I used this case to win a motion to suppress on an Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon By a Felon charge at 26th and California. The facts of my client's case were very similar to the facts in Gant. The defendant was pulled over because his license plate light was not working. The officer asked my client for his license but he could not produce one because it had been revoked for a prior DUI. The officer testified that he placed handcuffs on my client and put him in the back seat of his squad car. There was a passenger in the front seat. A check of his name revealed an outstanding traffic warrant and he was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the squad car as well. The officer then proceeded to search my client's vehicle finding a loaded handgun in the back seat area of his vehicle. The state argued that this search was actually an inventory search and that the officer was following Chicago Police procedure. However, the officer admitted that he did not produce an inventory report and could only state that "miscellaneous" items were retrieved from the vehicle in the inventory search.

The court found that an inventory search would be an exception but that what the officer testified to could not be deemed to be an inventory search. The officer did not produce an inventory report and could only remember that "miscellaneous" other items were found. Since the defendant and his passenger were in handcuffs in the back seat of the squad car, and the only reason for the arrest of the defendant was that he had no driver's license, the police needed a warrant to search the vehicle.

The client was facing substantial jail time if he had been convicted of this offense. He has been to the penitentiary at least three times, most recently serving 10 years for a very serious set of felonies.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

1 comment:

John Lee, Hollywood winner said...

AZ v Gant was also cited by defense counsel Ronald Newcomb and the court's order to suppress in State of TN v Clifford Clark, to win dismissal 1 week before jury trial, on charges of allegedly shooting a redlight camera. The allegedly "visible" rifle was suppressed, since there was no written consent to search, and polcie "lost" the audio recording of defendant's "voluntary consent" to search, which defendant vehemently denied. All ballistic evidence was also destroyed by police. For trial, Mr Clark subpoenaed a Knox Co deputy to testify that another deputy confessed to shooting a redlight camera. In retaliation to putting up a defense, unrelated charges were filed against Mr Clark, aftera home invasion by unidentified undercover deputies resulting in lawful use of deadly force in self defense, and Mr Clark expected to be likewise vindicated in those cases, and to sue for malicious prosecution. Additional retaliation resulted in suspected undercover cops or police informants severely assaulting Mr Clark in his car, with police and prosecutors refusing to prosecute the assailants. This severe head injury may have been what caused Mr Clark to suffer a massive stroke shortly after winning dismissal of the first case, requiring brain surgery with resultant brain damage. TV and radio journalists were threatened with arrest for appealing the ban on non-corporate media for broadcasting all hearings in this trial, and no hearing nor motions were allowed, without service of process of motions and orders.

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