Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress and remanded the cause to the circuit court with instructions to suppress the challenged evidence and vacate Defendant’s convictions, holding that the searches at issue violated the United States and Wisconsin constitutions. Defendant was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and bail jumping. In the circuit court, Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the law enforcement officer’s warrantless entry into her apartment was not justified under any of the exceptions to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, and therefore, the evidence obtained during the searches of her apartment and person should be suppressed. The circuit court denied the motion to suppress, concluding that the officer had consent to enter Defendant’s apartment and that exigent circumstances justified the officer’s pushing open the apartment door. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the officer did not have consent to enter Defendant’s apartment; and (2) exigent circumstances did not justify the officer’s opening Defendant’s apartment door. View "State v. Reed" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and convicting Defendant of burglary and possession of burglarious tools, holding that a search warrant issued for the placement and use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking evidence on a motor vehicle, but not executed within five days after the date of issuance under Wis. Stat. 968.15 or timely returned under Wis. Stat. 968.17(1), is not void if the search was otherwise reasonably conducted. At issue on appeal was whether the warrant in this case was governed by Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 968 and whether the warrant complied with the Fourth Amendment to the United State Constitution and Article I, Section 11 of the Wisconsin Constitution’s guarantees against unreasonable searches. The Court held (1) the GPS warrant in this case was not subject to the statutory limitations and requirements of Chapter 968; and (2) the GPS warrant complied with Fourth Amendment principles. View "State v. Pinder" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred in granting Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence discovered during a search incident to arrest on the basis that “‘judicial integrity’ was vital enough to justify exclusion of evidence when the issuing court’s arrest warrant was invalid ab initio.” Defendant was charged with one count of possession of methamphetamine. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that, while a warrant had been issued and law enforcement did not engage in misconduct in executing the warrant, his constitutional rights were violated because the warrant violated his due process rights. The reviewing court agreed and granted the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) suppression of evidence discovered during the search incident to arrest was not appropriate because the sole purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter police misconduct, and there was no police misconduct in this case; and (2) neither judicial integrity nor judicial error is a standalone basis for suppression under the exclusionary rule. View "State v. Kerr" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court may question a university’s decision to suspend a tenured faculty member and must not defer to the university’s procedure for suspending and dismissing tenured faculty members. Marquette University suspended Dr. John McAdams, a tenured faculty member, because of a blog post. McAdams brought a breach of contract claim against the University, arguing that the parties' contract guaranteed the right to be free of disciplinary repercussions under the circumstances of this case. The University argued that courts may not question its decision so long as the University did not abuse its discretion, infringe any constitutional rights, act in bad faith, or engage in fraud. The circuit court concluded that it must defer to the University’s resolution of McAdams’ claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the University’s internal dispute resolution process is not a substitute for McAdams’ right to sue in Wisconsin courts; and (2) the University breached its contract with McAdams when it suspended him for engaging in activity protected by the contract’s guarantee of academic freedom. View "McAdams v. Marquette University" on Justia Law

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Defendant voluntarily consented to a blood draw by his conduct of driving on Wisconsin’s roads and drinking to a point evidencing probable cause of intoxication and forfeited the statutory opportunity under Wis. Stat. 343.305(4) to withdraw his consent previously given by drinking to the point of unconsciousness. Defendant was convicted of operating while intoxicated and with a prohibited alcohol concentration. The conviction was based on the test of Defendant's blood that was drawn without a warrant while he was unconscious, pursuant to Wis. Stat. 343.305(3)(b). Defendant moved to suppress the results of the blood test, asserting that the warrantless blood draw violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment. The circuit court denied the suppression motion in reliance on section 343.305(3)(b). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 343.305(3)(b) applied, which, under the totality of the circumstances, reasonably permitted drawing Defendant’s blood. View "State v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant’s judgment of conviction and sentence and upholding the circuit court’s order denying his postconviction motion, holding that Defendant was entitled to resentencing because the circuit court relied on an improper sentencing factor. Defendant argued that he was entitled to withdraw his no contest pleas because his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress blood evidence collected without a warrant and that he was entitled to resentencing. The Supreme Court held (1) a motion to suppress the blood evidence would have been meritless because exigent circumstances existed permitting police to draw Defendant’s blood absent a warrant, and therefore, counsel’s failure to file a motion to suppress did not constitute deficient performance; and (2) the circuit court impermissibly lengthened Defendant’s sentence because he refused a warrantless blood draw, in violation of Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. __ (2016). View "State v. Dalton" on Justia Law

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A majority of the Supreme Court held that the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Evers, may select his own lawyer to represent him in an action in which he has been sued in his official capacity, thus rejecting Petitioners’ argument that the Wisconsin Constitution and applicable statutes require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to represent Evers. Petitioners sought a declaratory judgment that Evers and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) must comply with the REINS Act, 2017 Wis. Act 57. A dispute arose between DPI and DOJ regarding which entity would provide representation for Evers and DPI in this case. Evers and DPI claimed that they would not refer the matter to DOJ for representation. DOJ moved to strike the appearance by DPI’s in-house counsel. The Supreme Court held (1) Evers and DPI were entitled to counsel of their choice and were not required to be represented by DOJ; and (2) the governor was not a necessary party to this action. View "Koschkee v. Evers" on Justia Law

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In this challenge to the legislatively-enacted cap of $750,000 on noneconomic damages for victims of medical malpractice set forth in Wis. Stat. 893.55, the Supreme Court held that section 893.55 is facially constitutional and constitutional as applied to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs were awarded noneconomic damages of $16,500,000 in a medical malpractice action. The defendant moved to reduce the jury’s noneconomic damage award to $750,000, as required by the cap. Plaintiffs moved for entry of judgment on the verdict as well as for declaratory judgment that Wis. Stat. 655.017 and 893.55(4) are unconstitutional facially and as applied to Plaintiffs. Relying on Ferdon ex rel. Petrucelli v. Wisconsin Patients Compensation Fund, 701 N.W.2d 440 (Wis. 2005), the circuit court held that the cap was unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs on equal protection and due process grounds. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the statutory cap on noneconomic damages was unconstitutional on its face because it violated the principles articulated in Ferdon. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the $750,00 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice judgments and settlements is constitutional both facially and as applied to Plaintiffs; and (2) Ferdon is overruled because it erroneously invaded the province of the legislature and applied an erroneous standard of review. View "Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients & Families Compensation Fund" on Justia Law

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Wis. Stat. 157.067(2) and 445.12(6) (the anti-combination laws), which prohibit the joint ownership or operation of a cemetery and a funeral home, do not violate the equal protection or due process clauses of the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions. The circuit court concluded that the anti-combination laws are constitutional because they are rationally related to a number of legitimate government interests. On appeal, the parties disagreed on the proper scope of rational basis review and whether the anti-combination laws have a rational basis. The court of appeals concluded that, regardless of the scope of rational basis review employed, the anti-combination laws were not unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, applying the standard set forth in Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients & Families Compensation Fund, __ N.W.2d __ (Wis. 2018), the anti-combination statutes do not violate the equal protection or due process clauses of the state and federal Constitutions because they are rationally related to the legitimate government interests of protecting the welfare of vulnerable consumers and limiting the manipulation of funds required to be held in trust by funeral directors and cemetery operators. View "Porter v. State" on Justia Law

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A right to visibility of private property from a public road is not a cognizable right giving rise to a protected property interest. Adams Outdoor Advertising Limited Partnership brought a takings claim against the City of Madison, asserting that its property was taken when the City constructed a pedestrian bridge over the Beltline Highway that blocked the visibility from the highway of the west-facing side of Adams’ billboard. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the City, concluding that Adams failed to demonstrate a cognizable right underlying its asserted protected property interest. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Adams argued that a taking occurred because the City deprived it of all economically beneficial use of the west-facing side of its billboard. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Adams’ taking claim failed. View "Adams Outdoor Advertising Limited Partnership v. City of Madison" on Justia Law