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Admissibility of Statements Taken in Foreign Jurisdiction by Wisconsin Officers

State v. Edward Townsend, 2008 WI App 20, PFR filed 2/13/08
For Townsend: Ellen Henak, SPD, Milwaukee Appellate

Issue: Whether admissibility of evidence gathered in a foreign jurisdiction by Wisconsin officers is tested by the law of that jurisdiction or of Wisconsin.


¶1        … Townsend contends that the circuit court should have suppressed unrecorded statements he made while in custody in St. Paul, Minnesota. He argues the circuit court should have applied Minnesota law to the motion to suppress, which requires suppression of evidence gathered from an unrecorded custodial interview, and not Wisconsin law, which presently encourages electronic recording of custodial interviews [2] but does not require suppression of evidence obtained from an unrecorded interview of an adult. [3] Because we conclude that the circuit court properly applied Wisconsin law to Townsend’s suppression motion, we affirm.

¶7        … He cites Kluck v. State, 37 Wis. 2d 378, 389, 155 N.W.2d 26 (1967), in which the Wisconsin Supreme Court applied Minnesota law in determining the validity of a Minnesota arrest, and Kennedy, 134 Wis. 2d at 320, where we said: “The manner and method of obtaining evidence is governed by the law of the jurisdiction in which the evidence is secured.”

¶15      … Consistent with the rationale supporting Kennedy, we conclude that Wisconsin law shall be applied to evidence gathered in a foreign state by a Wisconsin official charged with the duty to gather evidence for use in a Wisconsin criminal prosecution.

¶16      Turning to the facts of this case, we conclude the circuit court was correct in applying Wisconsin law to the question of whether to suppress the unrecorded custodial statement. Townsend was arrested in Minnesota on a Minnesota warrant following a lawful traffic stop. The Minnesota police were subsequently informed that the vehicle in which Townsend was a passenger had been reported stolen in a car-jacking two days earlier in Milwaukee. Huerta, a detective from Milwaukee, interviewed Townsend in a Minnesota jail about the car-jacking and about another car-jacking that also occurred in Milwaukee. Townsend was subsequently charged and convicted in Wisconsin of crimes related to the car-jackings. The statement taken by Huerta in Minnesota was used in the Wisconsin trial. Applying the rationale set forth in Kennedy, it is unreasonable to require and expect Huerta to be aware of and implement Minnesota’s evidence gathering rules. [6]

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