People v. Williams,
858 N.E. 2nd 606.
Appellate Court, Ist District.
decision is not reported in the permanent law reports, and until released it is
subject to being revised or withdrawn.
was found, with one round in the chamber, inside a leather zippered compartment
located to the right of the back passenger seat of defendant’s vehicle pursuant
to an inventory search after defendant was arrested for driving without a valid
initial stop was predicated upon defendant driving his vehicle into the
opposite lane of traffic.
Defendant was found guilty in the lower court of aggravated
unlawful use of a weapon ( a
NOTE:A search of
this site’s archives will reveal this author’s commentaries on
People v. Smyth, 352
3d 10566, 817 N.E. 2d 1100 (2004) and People
v. Cameron, 336
App. 3d 548, 784 N.E.. 2d 438 (2003), both of which were relied upon by the Ist
District Appellate Court in its decision in this case.
argued that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in
that it failed to show the gun was "uncased" and, therefore, the lower Court
should have found him guilty of the lesser charge of unlawful use of a weapon
(a class-A misdemeanor)
The Court noted that to the extent it was asked to interpret
the statutory term "uncased," its review was
de novo, and in so reviewing that issue it relied heavily on
( a 1st District case) and Cameron (a
4th District case). The decision in this case makes it obvious that
the first and fourth appellate
districts now hold fast to the position that various parts of a motor vehicle
in which a firearm may be stored will not be considered as satisfying the
statutory phrase" . .
firearm carrying box,
shipping box, or other container." See 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(c) (iii), in
pertinent part, stating that the aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (UUW)
portion of the statute 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."
This Court points out that in
Smyth, a gun found under the driver’s seat in a holster, with the butt
exposed, was deemed “uncased.” The
Smyth court held that "[g]iven the plain meaning of the term in light of
the relevant provisions of the statute, the term ‘case’ refers to an item that
completely encloses the weapon in a firearm
carrying box, shipping box, or other container." [Emphasis added.]
Relying more upon Smyth,
this Court goes on to note that "[e]ven assuming the term
'uncased' was ambiguous, the legislative history of Public Act 91-690
[Criminal Code of 1961] also established that the legislature intended for the
gun to be enclosed in a container specifically designed for housing a gun, and
that leaves no part of the gun exposed;" the
Smyth court having cited 91st Ill. Gen. Assem., House
April 10, 2000
at 50-51 (statements of
Representative Cross). Defendant’s argument that the citing of legislative
history was obiter dictum (a " by
the way" statement made by
the Court) was rejected, this
Court stating that the legislative history comments went to the main issue of
the matter as it pertained to defining the word "case."
The Cameron case
was viewed by the Court because, unlike the holster scenario in
Smyth, in this case the gun was found in a zippered compartment adjacent
to a back seat in the vehicle. The Court here said: “Contrary to defendant’s
argument, it would be illogical for the legislature to list three specific
portable containers only to intend for the fourth to be of a much broader
scope. Because it is fundamentally
different from a case, firearm carrying box, or shipping box, the zippered
compartment, like a glove compartment, cannot be considered an 'other
Cameron, the Judge writing for the majority, and referring to the glove
compartment not satisfying the exempt provisions, made
the caustic observation: "I haven’t seen too many vehicles someone
could pick up and carry around."
affirmed the lower court decision, addressing several other issues, including
selection of a fair and impartial jury, effective assistance of counsel, and
the trial court’s duty to inform the jury of defendant’s constitutional rights
upon trial of the case.
NOTE: For a different view of this
issue see at Archives: People v. Dieppa, 357
App. 3d 847, where the 2d
District Appellate Court, relying on a Supreme Court decision, held
that a glove compartment, whether locked or unlocked, is a