Updated: 01-07-16
Firearm Laws
Search & Seizure

People v. Dieppa, 357 Ill. App. 3d 847

I previously reported People v. Cameron, 336 Ill. App. 3d 548 (see Archives), wherein the Appellate Court for the 4th District held that the glove compartment of a motor vehicle did not fit within the exemption language of the criminal statute regarding transportation of a firearm, because it is not a “container” within the meaning of the statute. In that case the Justice writing the opinion of the majority stated that the legislature, when debating the bill before its passage, meant “container” to mean “some sort of container that can be picked up and carried around.” The Justice noted:”If the firearm is in a glove box in a vehicle, I haven’t seen too many vehicles that someone can pick up and carry around.”
The diverging views of different appellate district courts can be seen in a recent Second District decision where the Appellate Court in People v. Dieppa, 357 Ill. App. 3d 847, reversed a state court’s granting of a motion to suppress evidence of a firearm found during a search of the defendant’s glove compartment, and made a finding completely opposite that of the Fourth District Appellate Court in the Cameron case regarding the glove compartment as a “container.” The 2d District Appellate Court stated in no uncertain terms that a “glove compartment, whether locked or unlocked, was a container . . .” citing a U.S. Supreme Court case: New York v. Belton 453 U.S. at 460, 101 S. Ct. at 2864 (‘Container’ is ‘any object capable of holding another object’ and ‘thus includes closed or open glove compartments . . .bags . . . and the like’). See, also, U.S. v. Woody 55 F, 3rd 1257, 1269,1270 (7th Cir. 1995).
The opposite finding regarding the glove compartment as a “container” was not helpful to the defendant in this case, since he was a convicted felon and the pistol found in the glove compartment was loaded. Additionally, the Appeals Court here held that a police officer having the legal right, based on the circumstances, to search the passenger compartment of the vehicle also had the right to search the glove compartment. The defendant was arrested and secured in the officer’s squad car when he conducted his search of the vehicle and found a semiautomatic pistol in a zipped bank bag in the car’s glove compartment. [Two containers?]
Regarding the issue of the propriety of the officer’s search of the defendant’s vehicle after he was arrested and secured in the squad car, the Court found a clear split between an Illinois Supreme Court case (People v. Stehman, 203 Ill. 2d 26) and a later decided U.S. Supreme Court case (Thorton v. U.S., 541 U.S. 615), and held that Stehman was no longer good law, while Thorton allowed the search. However, the Court amplified that observation by noting that the Illinois State Supreme Court has “the authority to interpret provisions of our state constitution more broadly than the U.S. Supreme Court interprets similar provisions of the federal constitution.”
Appeal to the Illinois State Supreme Court was denied (12-1-05). 

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