Attorney at Law
821 Witzel Avenue
Oshkosh, WI 54902
(920) 233-3300

I listen, I care,
and I can help you
821 Witzel Avenue
Oshkosh, WI 54902

(920) 233-3300 phone
(920) 233-3600 fax


Professional Legal Services For:

Oshkosh - Neenah - Menasha - Omro Winneconne - Appleton - Green Lake
Fond du Lac - Winnebago County
Fond du Lac County - Outagamie County Fox River Valley


                                                                          The Case of the Taken Toyota

 The Court of Appeals felt it had one question to address in this case and that was whether the officer had a reasonable suspicion to stop Driver on the day in question.  Even a temporary detention of a citizen is an important event since it constitutes a “seizure” under the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution and thereby triggers constitutional protections for the individual who is stopped.  In this case, the Court had to analyze the totality of the circumstances surrounding the seizure which in turn centered around the three arguments that Driver had made.  As to whether the information provided by the clerk was reliable, the Court felt that since the good samaritan provided his name (and therefore was not anonymous in any sense) the police were permitted to assume that they were dealing with a credible person in the absence of special circumstances (which were not present here) that might suggest the individual should not be believed.  Regarding Driver’s contention that the clerk’s tip was inherently unreliable because the man did not observe him actually driving his truck in an intoxicated manner, the Judges felt that since the tip was based upon first hand observations by which a reasonable person could conclude that Driver was drunk -- the fact that no erratic driving was actually seen was not enough to warrant overturning the conviction since a logical conclusion could be drawn that an intoxicated person leaving an establishment and going out into the parking lot toward his vehicle was in fact intending to drive drunk.  And finally with regard to the third argument that Driver had made that there was no information why the clerk thought he was actually drunk in the first place -- the Court pointed out that the reporter had had face-to-face contact with Driver and observed personally the signs of intoxication in his customer such as an unsteady gait, slurred speech, glassy eyes, alcohol on his breath, etc.  Since a lay person can give an opinion as to whether he or she believes another person is inebriated, the tip that was received by the police department in this case -- when viewed against the backdrop of the totality of the circumstances involved including (quite importantly) that the responding officer had independently verified the clerk’s information by way of his own observation of Driver’s conduct -- was sufficient to conclude that the policeman had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, that his detention of Driver was appropriate and that Driver’s conviction should stand. 
The HOW WOULD YOU DECIDE? feature (which will be changed periodically) of my website is intended to inform and perhaps amuse viewers by providing a synopsis of how the legal system actually works in real life here in Wisconsin. Although there is no pleasure in discovering the woes that beset others who are caught up in the law, it is interesting to see how certain fact circumstances play themselves out when it comes time for a court to make a decision. All cases are summaries of real judicial rulings but some complexities of the appellate process have been omitted for easier reading. The full names of the participants are of course not used for obvious reasons and it should be clearly understood that although the decisions of our court system represent sound reasoning under the prevailing law based upon the situation from which the appeal itself arose -- it must not be assumed that an identical ruling would occur in a different factual context and therefore anyone having a legal problem should consult with an attorney -- not the legal trivia section of this website.
A reputation for positive results.
This web site is for general information purposes only and nothing on it should be construed as constituting formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship between Attorney Schultz and any viewer.​