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Search & Seizure – Applicability of Exclusionary Rule: Private / Government Search: Administration of Laxative to Arrestee at Hospital

State v. Tomas Payano-Roman, 2006 WI 47, reversing 2005 WI App 118
For Payano-Roman: Timothy A. Provis

Issue: Whether the administration to an arrestee of a laxative at a hospital was under 4th amendment constraints because of the involvement of the police (including keeping the defendant handcuffed in the hospital room; police administration of the laxative; their palpable goal to recover a controlled substance that the defendant had swallowed).


¶28      Taking all of these circumstances into account, we determine that Payano-Roman established by a preponderance of the evidence that the search meets the test for a government search. The totality of the facts shows that the officers and medical personnel were engaged in a joint endeavor to speed the passage of the baggie of drugs through Payano-Roman’s system. The administration of the laxative had a dual purpose, medical treatment and the recovery of evidence of a crime. [6] Moreover, Agent Parker directly participated in the administration of the laxative to Payano-Roman. This is not a case involving the “mere presence” of a police officer.

¶29      There can be no question on this record that one purpose of the laxative procedure was medical treatment. However, when we consider all the circumstances of this case, we conclude that the medical purpose of the procedure cannot insulate the simultaneous evidence-gathering purpose from Fourth Amendment scrutiny.

[6]  Cf. State v. Jenkins, 80 Wis. 2d 426, 433-34, 259 N.W.2d 109 (1977) (holding that where a blood test is taken at the request of a physician “solely” for diagnostic purposes, there is no search and seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment).


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