Mitchell v. Wisconsin

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: January 11, 2019
  • Case #: 18-6210
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 914 N.W.2d 151 (Wis. 2018)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a statute authorizing a blood draw from an unconscious motorist provides an exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement.

Officers arrested Petitioner for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Petitioner’s incapacitated state made an evidentiary breath test infeasible. Officers took Petitioner to a hospital and instructed hospital staff to draw Petitioner’s blood without a warrant. Petitioner moved to suppress the results of the blood test on the ground that officers lacked a warrant and no exigency existed. The trial court upheld the search by operation of an implied consent statute and a jury convicted Petitioner. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin upheld the search in a plurality opinion. Petitioner argues that the result reached by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin permits legislatures to create a new Fourth Amendment exception which conflicts with precedent established by the U.S. Supreme Court. First, Petitioner argues that state legislatures cannot extinguish rights granted by the Constitution. Second, Petitioner notes that blood draws constitute Fourth Amendment searches under Supreme Court precedent. Third, Petitioner argues that the Fourth Amendment grants a right to refuse such searches absent a warrant or exigent circumstances. Finally, Petitioner notes that while Supreme Court precedent speaks favorably of implied-consent laws, such approval occurred in the context of civil penalties for failure to comply with a search. By contrast, Petitioner argues that laws implying consent to warrantless searches deny motorists the right to refuse in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

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