Wisconsin Supreme Court
Criminal Procedure — search warrants
Court commissioners have authority to issue search warrants.
“Throughout Wisconsin’s history, including before the ratification of the Wisconsin Constitution, non-judges have been authorized by statute to issue search warrants. Therefore, we conclude that the issuance of a search warrant is not an exercise of ‘[t]he judicial power,’ as that phrase in employed in Article VII, Section 2 of the Wisconsin Constitution. Instead, issuance of a valid search warrant requires that the individual be authorized by law to issue the warrant, that he or she be neutral and detached, and that the warrant be issued only upon a showing of probable cause.”
“Because we also conclude that Wis. Stat. § 757.69(1)(b), which allocates the power to issue search warrants to circuit court commissioners, does not impermissibly intrude upon “[t]he judicial power” granted to the courts by Article VII, Section 2 of the Wisconsin Constitution, we hold that § 757.69(1)(b) is constitutional. Therefore, the circuit court commissioner’s search warrant was validly issued. Accordingly, we affirm the circuit court’s denial of Williams’ motion to suppress.”
Attorneys: For Appellant: Hurley, Stephen P., Madison; Bednarek, Jonas B., Madison; For Respondent: Wellman, Sally L., Madison; Urbik, Gerald A., Janesville