|Search & Seizure
Hiland v. Trent, 868 N.E. 2d 396, Third District
Appellate Court (5/16/07).
People v. Williams, 858 N.E. 2nd 606. Illinois Appellate Court, Ist District.
United States v. Cherry, 436 F. 3d 769 ( C.A. 7, Ill., 2006)
People v. Miller, 824 N.E. 2d 1080 ,
Illinois 1st District Appellate Court (2-7-05).
HUDSON v. MICHIGAN. United States Supreme Court, June 2006. 126 S. Ct. 2159
People v. Dieppa, 357 Ill.
App. 3d 847
ILLINOIS v. CABALLES. U.S.
Supreme Court (1/25/05)
writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Illinois. 03-923
DEVENPECK et al. v. ALFORD No.
People v. Parra, 352 Ill. App.
3d 584, 817 N.E. 2d 141 ( 2d Dist., 10/12/04)
People v. Travis Smith, 346
Ill. App. 3d 146, 803 N.E. 2d 1074
People v. Starbuck, 358 Ill
App. 3d 234 (3rd Dist. 2005)
People v. Mendoza, 846 N.E. 2d 169 (2d Dist App. Ct.,
People v. Frederick Hampton, 358 Ill App. 3d 1029 (2d Dist 2005)
and People v. Shinara Mathews, 357 Ill App. 3d 1062 (3rd Dist. 2005)
|People vs. Smythe, 352 I11. App. 3d
|(Notice:This decision has not been
released for publication in the permanent law reports, and until released, it
is subject to revision or withdrawal).
|The Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District,
in a decision rendered on 9/30/04, has applied a de novo standard of review to
interpret the meaning of the statutory term “uncased ” which is not explicitly
defined in the statute. The uniqueness of this holding is that the Court relies
upon the legislative intent, demonstrated by the author of the bill quoting a
definition of “case” from the Illinois Wildlife Code, Chapter 520.
|A semi-automatic pistol recovered in a search of the
defendant’s automobile subsequent to a traffic stop was alleged by the officer
to have been recovered from underneath the driver’s seat, and was in a
snapped-shut holster, partially exposed, with a cartridge in the chamber. The
defendant testified that the pistol (a SIG Sauer 9 millimeter-semi-automatic)
was unloaded, and that all of the cartridges were in the gun’s clip inside the
center console between the driver and passenger seat. Also, that after his
basement had been broken into he had stored the gun and clip in his Expedition
and forgot about it.
|The jury found the defendant guilty of the offense of
aggravated UUW. Defendant contended that he was not proven guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of aggravated UUW because the evidence was insufficient to
show that his gun was “uncased” where it was undisputed that the officer
discovered the gun inside a holster that was snapped shut. The defense argued
that the failure to show that the gun was uncased requires that the Appellate
Court reduce the felony conviction for aggravated UUW to the misdemeanor and
lesser-included offense of UUW (720 ILCS 5/24-1) and remand
for re-sentencing within the Class A misdemeanor range.
|Following are highlights of the opinion of the court delivered
by Justice Theis, with Justices Greiman and
Quinn concurring (with some omissions not noted in the quoted text):
|“A person commits the offense of aggravated UUW in Illinois by
knowingly carrying a firearm in a vehicle that was uncased, loaded, and
immediately accessible at the time of the offense, unless the person was
carrying the firearm on his or her land, abode, or fixed place of business
[720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1)(3)(A)]. In the present case, defendant does
not dispute that the gun was loaded and immediately accessible. Rather, the
question here is whether the defendant’s gun was “uncased.” “The term “uncased”
is not explicitly defined in the statute, and therefore the Court will assume
that the word has its ordinary and popularly understood meaning. People v.
Bailey 167 Ill. 2d 210, 229, 212 Ill. Dec. 608, 657 N.E. 2d 953, 962
(1995). We are also mindful that our primary objective when construing the
meaning of a statute is to ascertain and give effect the true intent of the
Legislature. [citation omitted] All provisions of a statute are to be viewed as
a whole, and words and phrases should not be construed in isolation, but must
be interpreted in light of other relevant provisions of the statute.
|“Webster’s dictionary defines the term “case” as “a box or
receptacle to contain or hold something.” . . .Additionally in subsection (c)
(iii) of the Statute, the legislature specifically provided that the offense of
aggravated UUW does not apply to the transportation or possession of weapons
that are “unloaded and enclosed in a case, firearm carrying box, shipping box,
or other container.” 70 ILCS 5/24-1.6 (c) (iii). To “enclose”
means “to envelop” (Webster’s 3rd New International Dictionary 746 (1986)), and
to “envelop" means “to enclose completely with a garment or other covering”
[Webster's @ p. 759]. Thus, given the plain meaning of the term in light of all
of the relevant provisions of the statute, it is evident that the term “case”
refers to an item that completely encloses the weapon in a firearm carrying
box, shipping box, or other container.
“Here, the evidence revealed that the gun was found
underneath the driver’s seat in a holster that was snapped-shut and partially
exposed. A holster is traditionally defined as “a leather case for a pistol
that is often open at the top to facilitate quick withdrawal, that often
conforms to the pistols’ shape, and that is usually carried at the belt or
under one arm or often at the front of a saddle. . . . Accordingly, a rational
trier of fact could have found that defendant’s holster was “uncased,” as the
butt of the gun was left exposed for ease of access and did not completely
enclose the gun.
“Moreover, the defendant’s argument that the holster is a
“case” lacks merit because it is antithetical to the purpose of the aggravated
UUW statute. The legislature’s purpose in enacting the aggravated UUW statute
was to prevent any person from carrying a loaded weapon on his person or in his
vehicle due to “the inherent dangers to police officers and the general
public.” People v. Grant, 339 Ill. App. 3d 792, 791 N.E. 2d 100, 111
(2003) [other citations omitted].
“. . . It is evident from the legislative history that the
legislature intended “uncased” to mean that the weapon is not completely
enclosed in a container. During the legislative debate on Public Act 91-690,
Representative Cook specifically defined the term “case” as follows:
“ REPRESENTATIVE COOK: “*** And John, why don’t I go
ahead and give you a definition of what “case” is. Case is defined in the
Wildlife Code, Ch. 520, ‘case means a container specifically designed for the
purpose of housing a gun or a bow and arrow devise which completely encloses
such gun or bow and arrow devise by being zipped, snapped, buckled, tied or
otherwise fashioned with no portion of the gun or bow and arrow devise
exposed.’” 91st Ill. Gen. Assem., House Proceedings, April 10, 2000, 50-51
(statements of Representative Cook) (Emphasis added).
“ Therefore, the legislative history also establishes that
the legislature intended for the gun to be enclosed in a container specifically
designed for the purpose of housing a gun and that leaves no part of the gun
|[At this point the Court rejected defendant’s reliance on the
dissent in People v. Bartimo, 345 Ill. App. 3d 1100, 1104, 803 N.E. 2d
596, 601 (2004). In Bartimo the dissent took exception with the Wildlife
Code definition of “case” being used in that criminal prosecution, noting that
the Wildlife Code definition has no place in interpreting the meaning of a term
within the criminal statute. Distinguishing the facts in Bartimo, the
Court here noted that the dissent in that case had no precedential value].
“For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court.
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