Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed February 17, 2012
People v. Baskerville, 2012 IL 111056
Appellate citation: No. 3-08-0657 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).
JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.
Chief Justice Kilbride dissented, with opinion.
In 2007, a La Salle County sheriff’s deputy observed a woman, whose license he believed was suspended, driving south on County Highway 3 near the Lake Holiday community. He followed her to her residence and, after confirming that her license was suspended, attempted to effect a traffic stop, but she went inside her home. Her husband emerged and gave false information to the officer. The sheriff’s deputy testified that the husband initially told him that he himself had been driving the van and that his wife was not at home. The husband then went back into the house, and, when he came back out, stated that he did not know what was going on, but that the officer could enter to look for the wife. The officer declined to do so and said that he would send a ticket by mail. A citation for driving on a suspended license was served on the wife several weeks later.
Both husband and wife were charged with obstructing a peace officer, were tried jointly in bench proceedings, and were convicted. This appeal concerns only defendant husband, who conceded that he had provided false information to the officer concerning his wife’s whereabouts.
The appellate court was of the view that a physical act is required to convict for the offense of obstructing a peace officer under section 31-1(a) of the Criminal Code of 1961, and that providing false information, alone, is not sufficient. Therefore, it found the evidence insufficient to convict the husband and reversed. The State appealed.
In this decision, the supreme court agreed that the conviction should be reversed and affirmed the appellate court, but for different reasons. The supreme court said that the offense of obstructing a peace officer does not require a physical act, but may consist of knowingly providing a false statement which interposes an obstacle that impedes or hinders the officer and is relevant to the performance of his authorized duties.
The supreme court held that, on the facts of this case, the evidence was insufficient to support the husband’s conviction for obstructing a peace officer. Execution of the traffic stop was initially thwarted when the wife took refuge in her home. Although the husband made false statements, he then gave consent to a search of the house, but the officer declined to go in. Thus, there was no evidence that the husband’s false statements hampered or impeded the officer in any way.