Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Cops No Longer Need a Warrant to Enter Homes and Seize Evidence


Wisconsin Just Lost its 4th Amendment Rights by the Single Vote of a Judge Appointed by Scott Walker

In a 4-3 decision, the state’s highest court ruled that evidence seized in a person’s private home during a warrantless search can be used against the person under an expanded view of the “community caretaker” clause.The Wisconsin Supreme Court just dealt a death blow to the Fourth Amendment, which is supposed to protect a citizen against unreasonable search and seizure. What’s more, the decision was made by a single, newly-appointed judge who was not even present when arguments were made in court.

Police went to Charles Matalonis’ house after his brother was found bloodied at a nearby residence. Matalonis, admitting he fought with his brother, let the cops in, where they saw blood in the apartment and some cannabis. They wanted to look inside a locked room, and when Matalonis refused to unlock it, the cops broke in. There they found a cannabis growing setup, whereupon Matalonis was arrested and charged with manufacturing of cannabis.

The Court of Appeals had previously ruled this to be an unreasonable search. However, in the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, “Justice Annette Ziegler found that police were not investigating a crime but exercising their “community caretaker” function by checking to make sure no other injured people were in the house.”

This was challenged by three other Justices, who argued that “by the time officers entered the locked room, some 20 minutes or more after they had been in the house, there was little reason to suspect someone else was in the bedroom, but plenty of reason to suspect it might house marijuana.”

If the case had remained deadlocked at 3-3, then the Court of Appeals ruling that the evidence should be suppressed would have stood. But in a move that is without precedent in the U.S. or the Wisconsin Supreme Courts, newly-appointed Justice Rebecca Bradley cast the deciding vote without participating in oral arguments.

No precedent appears to exist in the United States Supreme Court or in this court for a new justice who did not participate in oral argument to participate in the case without re-argument,” said Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

Bradley was appointed by Governor Scott Walker after Justice Patrick Crooks passed away on Sept. 21, and is now running for election. Bradley had not participated in five earlier cases since her appointment, but decided to chime in on this one. She believed that listening to taped recordings of the arguments, instead of being there in person and involved, was sufficient for her to make the call.

So, an unelected judge appointed by a partisan politician cast a single vote, without being present during arguments, which effectively nullified the Fourth Amendment in that state. Now in Wisconsin, cops can enter a person’s home without a warrant, seize evidence and use it against the person.

The irony is that this attack on the Fourth Amendment is being carried out under the guise of cops being “community caretakers.” In other words, the state presumes that it is doing what’s best for the common good by violating the rights of the individual.

Courtesy of The Free Thought Project.

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  • dufas_duck

    According to her website:
    Justice Bradley also served as President of the Milwaukee Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization founded on the principle that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciaryto say what the law is, not what it should be.

    Seems that she changed her mind after getting her appointment to the bench…. Well, other than the damage she is going to leave in her wake, everything looks normal. The Constitution is becomeiing as valuble as a rubber check or a three dollar bill………

  • Lance Rock

    The guy let them into his house, they see weed, gives them probable cause to search the house. DO NOT LET POLICE INTO YOUR HOUSE! SPEAK TO THEM THROUGH THE DOOR IN ALL CASES! If they want to enter tell them to get a warrant. It Is your right! Give away your right, then don’t complain1

  • wayne pannabecker

    Isn’t the 4th a federal right, not a state right? It’s the constitution of the United States. A state cannot change the constitution for its own people.

  • Doc_Rock

    This will be appealed and thrown out by the Federal Courts. Relax folks. Red States regularly pass unconstitutional laws that always get thrown out.

  • joecar1949

    because judges are TREASONOUS to the CONSTITUTION..the oath they took
    to uphold..it is up to the people to set things right!

  • Dartsblaster2011

    It may not be all that outrageous a decision. There are precedents for warrantless searches, exigent circumstances, permission granted by a co tenant, a spouse, but they may have a tough row to hoe in the Federal Courts on this one given the circumstances.

  • Thomas Burr

    This law is null and void. State law cannot override the constitution. The only thing that can change the constitution is an amendment, properly ratified by congress….. or a convention of the states.

  • Jon Willard

    None of you have any clue wtf you are talking about. This is legal, constitutional and always has been.


    A search or seizure is generally unreasonable and illegal without a warrant, subject to only a few exceptions.

    To obtain a search warrant or arrest warrant, the law enforcement officer must demonstrate probable cause that a search or seizure is justified. An authority, usually a magistrate, will consider the totality of circumstances and determine whether to issue the warrant.

    The warrant requirement may be excused in exigent circumstances if an officer has probable cause and obtaining a warrant is impractical. For instance, in State v. Helmbright 990 N.E.2d 154, Ohio court held that a warrantless search of probationer’s person or place of residence complies with the Fourth Amendment if the officer who conducts the search possesses “reasonable grounds” to believe that the probationer has failed to comply with the terms of his probation.

    Other well-established exceptions to the warrant requirement include consensual searches, certain brief investigatory stops, searches incident to a valid arrest, and seizures of items in plain view.

    There is no general exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement in national security cases. Warrantless searches
    are generally not permitted in exclusively domestic security cases. In
    foreign security cases, court opinions might differ on whether to
    accept the foreign security exception to warrant requirement generally and, if accepted, whether the exception should include both physical searches and electronic surveillance.

  • Iamacitizen2

    I guess comments disappeared LOL so I will post again I was the very first post on this site this morning oh well. So now I guess our Miranda Rights
    have been set aside as well as a warrantless seach is ok too???? Seems to me this should be challenged and sooner than later I pray.

    Per the following definition a http://www.mirandawarning.org

    The wording used when a person is read the Miranda Warning, also
    known as being ‘Mirandized,’ is clear and direct:

    “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be
    used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you
    cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the
    rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak
    to me?”

    Question: I was not read my Miranda Rights. Will my case be dismissed?

    Answer: Not likely, but possible. It depends on the case, what the issue is and what was
    garnered after the questioning started. A DUI case, as we may have mentioned in
    some earlier discussions, Miranda is generally not quite as important because
    there’s not a lot of evidence taken after the person is put into custody. A
    murder case, if a person’s in custody and they did not read the Miranda and
    then during the interrogation [provide] evidence that proves the murder, that
    might be a case where the case could be dismissed; or, what would happen would
    be the evidence would be excluded, and then without evidence then the case would
    have to be dismissed.

  • David F. Podesta

    You can bet the farm that this case will go to the USSC. Even if the evidence is seized by police performing a “caretaker” function, it is confiscatable because it IS illegal, but not admissible in a prosecution. The fact that the judge was not present at the hearing may very well be grounds for appeal as well.

  • JohnnyAdams8

    Reasonable suspicion seeing he had marijuana out opens the door to the rest of the house. Though these Zeiglers are a monopoly of courts, lawyers and major businesses, meaning big corruption