State v. John David Ohlinger, 2009 WI App 44, PFR filed 4/1/09
For Ohlinger: Suzanne L. Hagopian, SPD, Madison Appellate
¶8 The one-party consent exception reads as follows:
(2) It is not unlawful …:….
(b) For a person acting under color of law to intercept a wire, electronic or oral communication, where the person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the interception.
Wis. Stat. § 968.31(2)(b). This exception contains two requirements, one applicable to the person who intercepts a communication and a second applicable to one of the persons who is a party to the communication.
¶9 We will refer to the first requirement as the intercepting-person requirement. The intercepting person must be “a person acting under color of law,” and the dispute in this case centers on whether a law enforcement officer may ever be a person fitting this “color of law” requirement.
¶10 We will refer to the second requirement as the consenting-person requirement. Under this requirement, one of the persons who is a party to the communication must either be the person who intercepts the communication or be a person who gives prior consent to the interception. Although there is no technical “consent” requirement if the second requirement is met because the intercepting person is also a party to the communication, this situation involves implicit consent, hence the shorthand reference to this statute as the one-party consent exception.