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Wis. court upholds search of felon’s property

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Authorities have a right to search a felon’s property for guns, even though they have no cause or suspicion to do so, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled.

The court’s ruling Friday came in a case involving Tally Ann Rowan, who was convicted of battery to a law enforcement officer. The court said that because she is on extended supervision for that conviction, the search is not illegal.

“We hold that while the condition that the circuit court imposed on Rowan’s extended supervision may impinge on constitutional rights, it does not violate them,” wrote Justice N. Patrick Crooks for the unanimous court.

Rowan, 36, of Ellsworth, crashed her car while intoxicated in 2008, threatened to shoot emergency responders and kill a police officer’s family. Later, an officer injured his thumb while trying to restrain the woman at the hospital so she could be medicated.

Rowan was sentenced to 14 months behind bars, plus three years of extended supervision. She was also convicted of carrying a concealed weapon because she had a handgun and ammunition in her car.

The Supreme Court agreed with a ruling from Pierce County Circuit Court that convicted felons on supervision, like prisoners, have a “severely diminished expectation of privacy” and that because searches of prisoners not under suspicion have long been deemed constitutional.

Rowan argued the searches eliminated her rights under the Fourth Amendment, rather than just restricted them.

The high court noted that the condition of the searches would be lifted at the end of Rowan’s three-year supervision period.

The Court of Appeals passed the case to the higher court, saying it was a “novel issue of statewide importance that is certain to recur,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

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