Jurisdiction to Hear Interlocutory Appeals

In People v. Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d 743, 718 N.E.2d 302, 240 Ill. Dec. 821 (1999), appeal allowed, 187 Ill. 2d 577 (2000), the Court held that Rule 604(a)(1) did not confer jurisdiction on the Illinois Supreme Court to hear an interlocutory appeal when: (1) the State files a motion in limine that seeks admission of evidence; (2) the trial court enters a discretionary ruling denying that motion. Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 745, 718 N.E.2d at 304. The holding in Drum was based on the interplay of three factors. the first factor was the availability of review under Rule 604(a)(1). Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 745, 718 N.E.2d at 304. Rule 604(a)(1) provides, in pertinent part, as follows: "In criminal cases the State may appeal only from an order or judgment the substantive effect of which results in suppressing evidence." 145 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1). the Supreme Court of Illinois has rejected a restricted reading of appellate jurisdiction through this rule. People v. Young, 82 Ill. 2d 234, 244-45, 412 N.E.2d 501, 506, 45 Ill. Dec. 150 (1980). Interpreting the supreme court's reasoning in Young, this court concluded that the supreme court did not intend to create unlimited appellate jurisdiction to hear the State's interlocutory appeals from discretionary rulings. Rather, a distinction exists between traditional discretionary rulings that relate to the evidentiary value of proffered evidence and suppression of evidence in the furtherance of some social policy. Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 746, 718 N.E.2d at 305. The second factor was the nature of motions in limine. Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 745, 718 N.E.2d at 304. Motions in limine ask the trial court to make a ruling outside the normal trial context. McMath v. Katholi, 304 Ill. App. 3d 369, 376, 711 N.E.2d 1135, 1140, 238 Ill. Dec. 474 (1999), rev'd on other grounds, 191 Ill. 2d 251, 2000 Ill. (2000). A trial court has the discretion not to address a motion in limine until the evidentiary issue arises in the normal course of the trial, and any ruling that the trial court makes is subject to reconsideration during the trial. Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 747, 718 N.E.2d at 306. In either case, the trial court's final ruling takes place at trial, not before. In addition, a review of in limine rulings in an interlocutory setting delays a trial on the merits, consumes judicial resources, and requires the reviewing court to make a ruling based upon the same underdeveloped record and limited information that was before the trial court when it made its preliminary ruling. Therefore, declining to review a trial court's discretionary pretrial ruling on a motion in limine prevents harming the flexibility of the motion in limine procedure and the fairness of trial. Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 748, 718 N.E.2d at 306. The third factor this court considered was the nature and scope of deferential review. Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 748, 718 N.E.2d at 306. Generally, evidentiary motions, such as motions in limine, are directed to the trial court's discretion, and reviewing courts will not disturb a trial court's evidentiary ruling unless an abuse of discretion occurred. People v. Jackson, 182 Ill. 2d 30, 78-79, 695 N.E.2d 391, 415, 230 Ill. Dec. 901 (1998). Absent an abuse of the trial court's discretion, a reviewing court may not change the result of the trial even if it would have viewed the matter differently. People v. Coleman, 183 Ill. 2d 366, 388, 701 N.E.2d 1063, 1075, 233 Ill. Dec. 789 (1998). Therefore, no compelling reason exists for a reviewing court to assume jurisdiction over a case still pending when the question on review is whether the trial court abused its discretion. Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 749, 718 N.E.2d at 307. In Drum, we found that the interplay between these three factors compelled the conclusion that we did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Drum, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 745, 718 N.E.2d at 304.