State Of Wis. v. Littlejohn, No. 2007AP900-CR.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
Citation2010 WI 85,786 N.W.2d 123
Decision Date15 July 2010
PartiesSTATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Appellant,v.Michael A. LITTLEJOHN, Defendant-Respondent-Petitioner.
Docket NumberNo. 2007AP900-CR.

786 N.W.2d 123
2010 WI 85

STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Michael A. LITTLEJOHN, Defendant-Respondent-Petitioner.

No. 2007AP900-CR.

Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

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



Appeal from Circuit Court, Monroe County, Steven L. Abbott, Judge.
For the defendant-respondent-petitioner there were briefs and oral argument by William E. Schmaal, assistant state public defender.

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

¶ 1 MICHAEL J. GABLEMAN, J.

This is a review of a published decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's grant of a motion to suppress evidence seized from a locked automobile. The issue in this case is identical to the issue in State v. Dearborn, 2010 WI 84, --- Wis.2d ----, 786 N.W.2d 97, which we also decide today. The question presented is, when a search incident to arrest is conducted by law enforcement officers who act in objectively reasonable reliance on clear and settled precedent authorizing that search, but the search is later declared unconstitutional, should the remedy of exclusion apply to bar admission of the illegally obtained evidence?

¶ 2 The facts in this case are similar but unrelated to the events in Dearborn. More details can be found in the court of appeals opinion, State v. Littlejohn, 2008 WI App 45, 307 Wis.2d 477, 747 N.W.2d 712, but the relevant facts are as follows.

¶ 3 Littlejohn was arrested for driving with a revoked license. After officers placed him under arrest, handcuffed him, and placed him in a squad car, they searched Littlejohn's locked automobile. In the passenger compartment, officers found what appeared to be marijuana and cocaine. A search of the locked trunk revealed more marijuana, cocaine, and drug paraphernalia. Based on this evidence, the police obtained a warrant to search Littlejohn's residence, where they found additional incriminating evidence.

¶ 4 Littlejohn moved to suppress the evidence seized from his car and residence. The circuit court granted the motion because there were not “sufficient facts to raise an honest belief in a reasonable mind that any objects sought [we]re linked to the commission of a crime, and that they [would] be found in the [automobile].” The court of appeals reversed, holding that the search was valid, incident to Littlejohn's lawful arrest. 307 Wis.2d 477, ¶ 1, 747 N.W.2d 712.

¶ 5 For the...

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5 practice notes
  • State Of Wis. v. Henley, No. 2008AP697-CR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 21, 2010
    ...786 N.W.2d 124, would be pointless. Decisions like State v. Dearborn, 2010 WI 84, ---Wis.2d ----, 786 N.W.2d 97, and State v. Littlejohn, 2010 WI 85, 327Wis.2d 107, 786 N.W.2d 123, would not mean anything because defendants would say, “Like Henley, I'm being treated differently, so I get an......
  • State v. Forbush, No. 2008AP3007–CR.
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Supreme Court
    • April 29, 2011
    ...to searches conducted prior to Gant. See State v. Dearborn, 2010 WI 84, ¶¶ 3–4, 327 Wis.2d 252, 786 N.W.2d 97; State v. Littlejohn, 2010 WI 85, ¶ 5, 327 Wis.2d 107, 786 N.W.2d 123. We recognized that the search conducted by the officers in Dearborn was clearly lawful at the time,2 and occur......
  • State v. Yeoman, No. 2011AP1019–CR.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • January 10, 2013
    ...does not require suppression of searches that were conducted in good-faith reliance upon the prior state of the law. State v. Littlejohn, 2010 WI 85, ¶ 5, 327 Wis.2d 107, 786 N.W.2d 123. Second, the State asserts that the gun was discovered pursuant to the plain view doctrine, not the searc......
  • State v. Martin, Appeal No. 2010AP505-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • May 3, 2011
    ...court's ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided State v. Dearborn, 2010 WI 84, 327 Wis. 2d 252, 786 N.W.2d 97, and State v. Littlejohn, 2010 WI 85, 327 Wis. 2d 107, 786 N.W.2d 123. Martin concedes that, under the current state of the law as set forth in these cases, we mayPage 12not ove......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • State Of Wis. v. Henley, No. 2008AP697-CR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 21, 2010
    ...786 N.W.2d 124, would be pointless. Decisions like State v. Dearborn, 2010 WI 84, ---Wis.2d ----, 786 N.W.2d 97, and State v. Littlejohn, 2010 WI 85, 327Wis.2d 107, 786 N.W.2d 123, would not mean anything because defendants would say, “Like Henley, I'm being treated differently, so I get an......
  • State v. Forbush, No. 2008AP3007–CR.
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Supreme Court
    • April 29, 2011
    ...to searches conducted prior to Gant. See State v. Dearborn, 2010 WI 84, ¶¶ 3–4, 327 Wis.2d 252, 786 N.W.2d 97; State v. Littlejohn, 2010 WI 85, ¶ 5, 327 Wis.2d 107, 786 N.W.2d 123. We recognized that the search conducted by the officers in Dearborn was clearly lawful at the time,2 and occur......
  • State v. Yeoman, No. 2011AP1019–CR.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • January 10, 2013
    ...does not require suppression of searches that were conducted in good-faith reliance upon the prior state of the law. State v. Littlejohn, 2010 WI 85, ¶ 5, 327 Wis.2d 107, 786 N.W.2d 123. Second, the State asserts that the gun was discovered pursuant to the plain view doctrine, not the searc......
  • State v. Martin, Appeal No. 2010AP505-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • May 3, 2011
    ...court's ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided State v. Dearborn, 2010 WI 84, 327 Wis. 2d 252, 786 N.W.2d 97, and State v. Littlejohn, 2010 WI 85, 327 Wis. 2d 107, 786 N.W.2d 123. Martin concedes that, under the current state of the law as set forth in these cases, we mayPage 12not ove......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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