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Search Warrants – Probable Cause – Stalking

State v. Michael A. Sveum, 2009 WI App 81, affirmed on other grounds, 2010 WI 92
For Sveum: Robert J. Kaiser, Jr.

Issue/Holding: A search warrant for seizure of the sorts of items Sveum used or kept in connection with a 1996 stalking conviction established probable cause he was keeping such items in 2003:

¶35      The warrant affidavit stated that the affiant was a detective with twenty-two years of experience who had specialized training in stalking crimes. See State v. Multaler, 2002 WI 35, ¶43, 252 Wis. 2d 54, 643 N.W.2d 437 (experience and special knowledge of police officers who are applying for search warrant are facts that warrant-issuing judge may consider). The detective explained in the affidavit that, based on her training and experience, individuals who engage in stalking behavior often display an obsessive personality and exhibit a pattern of conduct, including maintaining visual proximity to the victim, contacting the victim, and keeping records, journals, or other documents memorializing their stalking behavior. Also, such individuals often keep evidence of their obsession with the victim, including records, journals, diaries, calendars of the victim’s activities or the activities of other family members, personal information, or computer records.

¶36      The affidavit also indicated that the affiant had investigated Sveum’s prior stalking crime, and it detailed the many ways that Sveum’s conduct surrounding the 1996 conviction was consistent with behaviors characteristically exhibited by individuals who stalk. In particular, Sveum at that time kept calendars marking down anniversary dates of his time with Johnson, tracked the mileage on Johnson’s car, documented Johnson’s whereabouts, and retained “keepsakes,” including earrings, underwear, and a duplicate driver’s license of Johnson’s. The affidavit also outlined the evidence establishing that Sveum was again stalking Johnson in 2003.


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