Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the circuit court denying Petitioner's postconviction motion to withdraw his guilty plea, holding that the circuit court's plea colloquy was not defective under Wis. Stat. 971.08 or State v. Bangert, 389 N.W.2d 12 (Wis. 1986). Petitioner argued that the plea colloquy was defective because the circuit court failed sufficiently to explain, and he did not understand, the constitutional rights he would be waiving by entering a plea, and therefore, he did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily enter his plea. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Petitioner failed to meet his burden to demonstrate that the plea colloquy was defective so as to entitle him to the relief requested, and this Court declines to exercise its superintending authority to require circuit courts to advise a defendant of each constitutional right being waived by pleading guilty. View "State v. Pegeese" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court granting a petition for grandparent visitation over the objection of two fit parents, holding that the Grandparent Visitation Statute, Wis. Stat. 767.43(3), as applied to the circuit court order, is unconstitutional because Grandmother did not overcome the presumption in favor of the Parents' visitation decision with clear and convincing evidence that their decision was not in the child's best interest. Despite finding that Parents were good and fit parents, the circuit court granted Grandmother's petition for visitation. The Supreme Court vacated the order, holding (1) The Grandparent Visitation Statute must withstand strict scrutiny; (2) the statute is facially constitutional and is narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest; but (3) the statute is unconstitutional as applied, and the visitation order in this case violated the constitutional rights of Parents. View "Michels v. Lyons" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's order granting Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a search of Defendant's vehicle during a traffic stop, holding that none of the officer's questions or actions violated the Fourth Amendment. Defendant was charged with unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon. The weapon was discovered in the glove compartment of Defendant's vehicle during a traffic stop. In his motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the police violated the Fourth Amendment by asking Defendant whether he had a weapon in the vehicle, asking whether he held a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and verifying whether Defendant had a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon. The circuit court granted the motion to suppress, concluding that the officer unlawfully extended the traffic stop by asking whether Defendant had a weapon in the vehicle and whether he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated. View "State v. Wright" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court declaring Wis. Stat. 165.95(1)(a) and (3)(c) unconstitutional as applied to Defendant, holding that circuit court erred in declaring the statute unconstitutional. Defendant was undergoing treatment in the Iowa County Drug Treatment Court program when he picked up new drug charges. Based on those charges, the State moved to expel Defendant from the drug treatment court program pursuant to section 165.95(3)(c). While the expulsion hearing was pending, Defendant pled no contest to possession of heroin. Defendant subsequently filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of Wis. Stat. 165.95(1)(a) and (3)(c). The circuit court issued a declaratory judgment ruling that sections 165.95(1)(a) and (3)(c) violated Defendant’s substantive and procedural due process rights. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s order after Defendant conceded that the circuit court erred in declaring section 165.95 unconstitutional, holding (1) Defendant did not have a fundamental liberty interest in continued participation in a treatment court funded by section 165.95; and (2) section 165.95 need not define expulsion procedures for treatment courts in order to survive a procedural due process challenge. View "State v. Keister" on Justia 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