Justice Karmeier writes first opinion as court member

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 17, 2005, 8:23am

Newly elected Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier delivered his first opinion since taking the oath of office Dec. 6, 2004.

Plaintiff Christian Torres, who originally filed a complaint in Champaign County, was appealing a decision forcing him to pay $175 for resisting a law enforcement officer.

Torres was accused of slamming an apartment door on a police officer’s right arm when the officer asked for the door to remain open.

At trial, Torres argued that he could not be found to have obstructed an officer's duty because his acts in question were not authorized.

Karmeier wrote: “Defendant, as we noted at the outset of this opinion, did not live at the apartment Sergeant Shepard was investigating...

"Illinois courts have repeatedly held that persons who are guests or merely present in someone else's home or on another person's property when it is searched do not have the right to contest the legality of that search and seizure.”

“Because defendant has no legally cognizable right to challenge the constitutionality of Sergeant Shepard's conduct, he cannot assert that Sergeant Shepard violated the fourth amendment when he prevented defendant from closing the door to the apartment.

"During oral argument, defendant's attorney attempted to overcome this impediment by arguing that even though defendant's own fourth amendment rights may not have been abridged, Sergeant Shepard's conduct in blocking the door necessarily required that he cross the threshold of the apartment. In defendant's view, the mere act of breaking the plane of the apartment's entrance was sufficient, in itself, to establish a fourth amendment violation and render Shepard's actions unlawful.”

Justices Kilbride and Freeman dissented the decision, but the majority of the court upheld the appellate courts decision forcing Torres to pay the $175 fine.

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