State v. Ward

In State v. Ward, 2000 WI 3, 231 Wis. 2d 723, 604 N.W.2d 517, the supreme court discussed the probable cause requirement for search warrants in considerable length, stating: In reviewing whether there was probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant, we accord great deference to the determination made by the warrant-issuing judge. The judge's determination will stand unless the defendant establishes that the facts are clearly insufficient to support a probable cause finding. A finding of probable cause is a common sense test. The task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, commonsense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the testimony before him or her ... there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place. When a warrant-issuing judge's determination of probable cause is doubtful or marginal, we examine it in light of this strong preference that law enforcement officers conduct searches pursuant to a warrant. (Internal quotation marks omitted.) The Ward court also stated that "whether there is probable cause to believe that evidence is located in a particular place is determined by examining the 'totality of the circumstances,'" and that our inquiry on appeal is essentially "whether, objectively viewed, the record before the issuing judge provided sufficient facts to excite an honest belief in a reasonable mind that the objects sought are linked with the commission of a crime and that they will be found in the place to be searched." And while the issuing judge's ruling "cannot be based on the testifying officer's suspicions and conclusions, the judge may make the usual inferences reasonable persons would draw from the facts presented." In State v. Ward, officers made an "unlawful no-knock entry" into Ward's residence. According to the supreme court, existing case law at the time the case arose countenanced such action, and the fact that those cases had since been overruled should not result in suppression of the evidence. In so ruling, the court never mentioned United States v. Leon, concluding instead that because the officers had relied on then-existing "pronouncements of this court," exclusion of the seized evidence "would serve no remedial objective." Ward, 2000 WI 3 at P63, 231 Wis. 2d at 748.