State Of Wis. v. Robinson, No. 2008AP266-CR.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtANNETTE KINGSLAND ZIEGLER, J
Citation2010 WI 80,786 N.W.2d 463
Docket NumberNo. 2008AP266-CR.
Decision Date15 July 2010
PartiesSTATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent,v.Terion Lamar ROBINSON, Defendant-Appellant-Petitioner.

786 N.W.2d 463
2010 WI 80

STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Terion Lamar ROBINSON, Defendant-Appellant-Petitioner.

No. 2008AP266-CR.

Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

Argued April 13, 2010.
Decided July 15, 2010.


786 N.W.2d 464

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786 N.W.2d 465

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786 N.W.2d 466
For the defendant-appellant-petitioner there were briefs and oral argument by Melinda A. Swartz, assistant state public defender.

For the plaintiff-respondent the cause was argued by Michael C. Sanders, assistant attorney general, with whom on the brief was J.B. Van Hollen, attorney general.

ANNETTE KINGSLAND ZIEGLER, J.

¶ 1 This is a review of a published decision of the court of appeals 1 that affirmed a judgment of conviction entered upon a guilty plea by the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Joseph R. Wall, Judge. Acting upon an anonymous informant's tip and what they believed to be an outstanding felony arrest warrant, police officers forcibly entered and subsequently searched the apartment of Terion Lamar Robinson (Robinson). Following the circuit court's denial of his motion to suppress, Robinson pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to deliver tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), 200 grams or less, in violation of Wis. Stat. § 961.41(1m)(h)1 (2005-06).2

786 N.W.2d 467
On appeal, Robinson argues that the officers' warrantless entry into his apartment and subsequent search violated his constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. We disagree and therefore affirm the court of appeals decision.

¶ 2 The dispositive issue in this case is whether the police officers' warrantless entry into Robinson's apartment and subsequent search was supported by probable cause and justified by exigent circumstances when the officers corroborated three of the four details relayed by an anonymous informant, knocked and announced their presence, and immediately heard footsteps running from the door.

¶ 3 Assuming without deciding that the commitment order for unpaid fines did not constitute an arrest warrant and therefore was insufficient to permit the police officers' lawful entry into Robinson's apartment, we conclude that the warrantless entry was nevertheless reasonable because it was supported by probable cause and justified by exigent circumstances. First, we determine that the police officers' warrantless entry into Robinson's apartment was supported by probable cause. Because the officers corroborated each of the three preliminary details provided by the anonymous informant, it was reasonable for the officers to then believe, as the informant had alleged, that evidence of illegal drug activity would probably be found in Robinson's apartment. Second, we conclude that the police officers' warrantless entry into Robinson's apartment was justified by exigent circumstances. Once Robinson was aware of the officers' presence outside his door and footsteps were immediately heard running from the door, the officers reasonably believed that Robinson would destroy evidence of his illegal drug activity. Finally, we conclude that once inside the apartment, the officers lawfully seized the evidence in plain view and arrested Robinson.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE

¶ 4 On November 6, 2006, an anonymous citizen walked into Milwaukee's District Five police station and informed Officer Wesam Yaghnam (Officer Yaghnam) that a man by the name of Terion Robinson was selling marijuana out of his apartment. The citizen provided Officer Yaghnam with Robinson's complete address, 7233 North 38th Street in Milwaukee, Apartment 8, in addition to Robinson's cell phone number.

¶ 5 Officer Yaghnam then conducted a warrant check on the Crime Information Bureau (CIB) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) databases.3 According

786 N.W.2d 468
to Officer Yaghnam's testimony at the suppression hearing, his search revealed that Robinson “had two open warrants,” one for a “family offense” and another for “the possession of [or] delivery of a controlled substance.” Listed on the screen were the names of the warrants, what the warrants were for, and their case numbers. The warrant for possession or delivery of a controlled substance had a felony case number.

¶ 6 Consistent with his usual practice, Officer Yaghnam did not pull the warrants and testified that he does not always have the capability of doing so. Instead, “[a]ll [the officers] do is [ ] run on the system. If it comes back with a warrant, then that is in good faith, and that is how [they] arrest.”

¶ 7 After conducting the warrant check, Officer Yaghnam and several other officers 4 went to the address identified by the anonymous informant as Robinson's apartment. The officers did not seek a search warrant, as they were intending to conduct a “knock and talk.” 5 The officers were let into the building by another resident. Some officers, including Officer Yaghnam, proceeded upstairs to Apartment 8, while others remained outside to secure the exits.

¶ 8 According to Officer Yaghnam, the officers knocked on the door to Apartment 8 several times with no answer. They knocked again and heard movement inside the apartment, leading them to believe that somebody was inside. At that point, Officer Yaghnam called the cell phone number provided by the anonymous informant. A phone rang on the other side of the door, but nobody answered. Officer Yaghnam described the succeeding events as follows:

Q [Attorney Merten, on behalf of the State]: What happened next?
A [Officer Yaghnam]: I then knocked on the door again, and then a male voice replied, “Who is it?” I then replied, “Terion?” And he stated, “Yes,” actually, “Yeah.” Then I identified myself as, “The Milwaukee police department. You need to open the door.” And that is when I heard footsteps running from the door.
Q: And when you said you heard footsteps running from the door, was that-how quickly after the fact that you identified yourself as a Milwaukee Police Department officer did you hear that?
A: Immediately.
....
Q: And when you heard those footsteps, what did you do then?
786 N.W.2d 469
A: Then, fearing for the safety of possibly him destroying evidence or escaping, we then forced entry into the building, into the apartment.
Q: How soon did you force entry after you heard those footsteps?
A: Immediately.
Q: And how did you force entry?
A: By kicking open the door.

¶ 9 After Officer Yaghnam kicked open the door, he and the other officers proceeded into the apartment. Upon entering the residence, Officer Yaghnam identified a “pretty strong” odor of burnt marijuana. He described the apartment's layout as an “open concept.” Immediately to the right of the door was a kitchen, which opened up to a dining room. Robinson was standing in the dining room. The dining room flowed into a living room, where the officers found a female later identified as Roxanne Reindl (Reindl). The apartment had a balcony exit, accessible by a sliding door located between the dining room and living room. Officer Yaghnam observed loose marijuana on a coffee table in the living room and several individual bags of marijuana inside an open cooler next to the couch.

¶ 10 Officer Yaghnam arrested Robinson, citing as the basis Robinson's “open warrants.” 6 He then searched Robinson's person and recovered “a large amount of currency” 7 and a cell phone. The cell phone's number matched the one Officer Yaghnam previously dialed. The officers also seized two digital scales and a box of sandwich baggies; one of the scales and the baggies were taken from the kitchen counter.8

¶ 11 On November 8, 2006, Robinson was charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver THC, more than 200 grams but not more than 1,000 grams, in violation of Wis. Stat. § 961.41(1m)(h)2. On January 7, 2007, Robinson moved to suppress all evidence obtained from his apartment on the grounds that it was the fruit of an unlawful entry.

¶ 12 On January 10, 2007, the circuit court conducted a hearing on Robinson's motion to suppress, at which Robinson largely corroborated Officer Yaghnam's testimony. Robinson recalled hearing knocks on his apartment door 9 on November 6, 2006, immediately followed by his cell phone ringing. He testified that he silenced his ringer and then went to the door to look out the peep hole, but the peep hole was covered. When he asked who was there, someone responded, “Milwaukee Police Department. Open up.” According to Robinson, he then replied, “ ‘No, thank you,’ and walked away from the door, and they started kicking in the door.” He denied running from the door and stated that he was not wearing shoes at the time.

¶ 13 Robinson also denied smoking marijuana that day but testified that Reindl was. He admitted that a strong odor of marijuana was in the air in his apartment and that marijuana was on the coffee table. When asked if he was aware that marijuana was also in the cooler, he responded that he was not: “I seen the weed that was

786 N.W.2d 470
on the table. [The cooler] couldn't have been-[i]t had to have been out of sight.”

¶ 14 Reindl also testified at the suppression hearing. She recalled visiting Robinson at his apartment on November 6, 2006, and smoking “[a] little bit” of marijuana.

¶ 15 At the close of the suppression hearing, it came to light that what Officer Yaghnam thought was an open felony warrant for possession or delivery of a controlled substance was actually a commitment order for unpaid fines. In particular, on September 29, 2006, the Milwaukee County Circuit Court issued a commitment order for unpaid fines stemming from Robinson's 1998 conviction for manufacturing or delivering THC. According to court records, on December 18, 1998, then-circuit court Judge Kitty K. Brennan 10 sentenced Robinson to 12 months imprisonment and ordered him to “pay a fine in the amount of $500.00 plus all costs and surcharges at $50.00 a month, starting 3/1/99 and thereafter on the first of every month or serve 60 days...

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71 practice notes
  • State v. Burch, No. 2019AP1404-CR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 29 Junio 2021
    ...fact unless they are clearly erroneous, and independently apply constitutional principles to those facts.Page 10 State v. Robinson, 2010 WI 80, ¶22, 327 Wis. 2d 302, 786 N.W.2d 463. ¶15 Before us, Burch argues the cell phone data was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment for three r......
  • State v. Iverson, No. 2014AP515–FT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 25 Noviembre 2015
    ..."Our review of an order granting or denying a motion to suppress evidence presents a question of constitutional fact." State v. Robinson, 2010 WI 80, ¶ 22, 327 Wis.2d 302, 786 N.W.2d 463 (citation omitted). Similarly, "[w]hether there is probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop a vehi......
  • Kentuchy v. King, No. 09–1272.
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 16 Mayo 2011
    ...officers "do not impermissibly create exigent circumstances" 563 U.S. 464when they "act in an entirely lawful manner"); State v. Robinson, 2010 WI 80, ¶ 32, 327 Wis.2d 302, 326–328, 786 N.W.2d 463, 475–476 (2010). But others, including the Kentucky Supreme Court, have imposed 131 S.Ct. 1859......
  • State v. Lemberger, No. 2015AP1452-CR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 20 Abril 2017
    ...of the Fourth Amendment." State v. Tullberg , 2014 WI 134, ¶29 n.17, 359 Wis.2d 421, 857 N.W.2d 120 (citing State v. Robinson , 2010 WI 80, ¶24 n.11, 327 Wis.2d 302, 786 N.W.2d 463 ). Given that our task is "to say what the law is," Marbury v. Madison , 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 177, 2 L.Ed. 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
71 cases
  • State v. Burch, No. 2019AP1404-CR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 29 Junio 2021
    ...fact unless they are clearly erroneous, and independently apply constitutional principles to those facts.Page 10 State v. Robinson, 2010 WI 80, ¶22, 327 Wis. 2d 302, 786 N.W.2d 463. ¶15 Before us, Burch argues the cell phone data was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment for three r......
  • State v. Iverson, No. 2014AP515–FT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 25 Noviembre 2015
    ..."Our review of an order granting or denying a motion to suppress evidence presents a question of constitutional fact." State v. Robinson, 2010 WI 80, ¶ 22, 327 Wis.2d 302, 786 N.W.2d 463 (citation omitted). Similarly, "[w]hether there is probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop a vehi......
  • Kentuchy v. King, No. 09–1272.
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 16 Mayo 2011
    ...officers "do not impermissibly create exigent circumstances" 563 U.S. 464when they "act in an entirely lawful manner"); State v. Robinson, 2010 WI 80, ¶ 32, 327 Wis.2d 302, 326–328, 786 N.W.2d 463, 475–476 (2010). But others, including the Kentucky Supreme Court, have imposed 131 S.Ct. 1859......
  • State v. Lemberger, No. 2015AP1452-CR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 20 Abril 2017
    ...of the Fourth Amendment." State v. Tullberg , 2014 WI 134, ¶29 n.17, 359 Wis.2d 421, 857 N.W.2d 120 (citing State v. Robinson , 2010 WI 80, ¶24 n.11, 327 Wis.2d 302, 786 N.W.2d 463 ). Given that our task is "to say what the law is," Marbury v. Madison , 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 177, 2 L.Ed. 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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