2012 WI 76
Issue 1: Was the liquor license originally issued to Wisconsin Dolls void for failing to particularly describe the premises to which it applied?
Issue 2: May a town reduce the description of premises on a liquor license without going through the statutory process for non-renewal of a liquor license?
Holding 1: The liquor license originally issued to Wisconsin Dolls was valid because the application and license did particularly describe the premises.
Holding 2: A town does not have authority to unilaterally modify or reduce the description of the premises on liquor license that is applying for renewal.
Wisconsin Dolls, LLC, an adult entertainment resort, challenged the Town of Dell Prairie (Town) because it made modifications to the premises description on its liquor license. 2012 WI 76, ¶5. The Town first granted Wisconsin Dolls a liquor license in 2005 that described the premises as “all 8 acres of the resort,” and renewed the license under this description through 2008. Id. at ¶¶6-8. When Wisconsin Dolls submitted its 2009-10 application for renewal, the Town reduced the premises described on the license from “all 8 acres of the resort” to the “Main Bar/Entertainment Room” of the resort, renewing the license as to that portion only. Id. at ¶2.
Wisconsin Dolls sued the Town, claiming that by reducing the description of the licensed premises without following the statutory nonrenewal process, the Town violated state law and stripped Wisconsin Dolls of its right to due process of law. Id. at ¶42. The circuit court held in favor of the Town and dismissed the lawsuit. Id. at ¶16. The appellate court affirmed the circuit court, although on different grounds. Id. at ¶17. The appellate court held that the original license was never valid because it failed to “particularly describe the premises,” as required by the relevant liquor licensing statutes, and thus it was not entitled to the statutory protections provided for renewals. Id.
In granting review of the appellate court decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court identified two issues for review. Id. at ¶20. First, it addressed the question of whether the original description of Wisconsin Dolls’ premises on its applications was so deficient as to render the liquor license void. Id. Second, it considered whether a town had the authority to unilaterally reduce the premises described in the liquor license when it renewed the license. Id.
The court noted that the relevant liquor licensing statutes require applicants to “particularly describe the premises” as well as the buildings and rooms where the licensed activity will occur. Id. at ¶¶33, 34. The court found persuasive the fact that in its applications, Wisconsin Dolls described its buildings, as well as listed “all 8 acres of the resort.” Id. at ¶35. Recognizing that a liquor license covers not only the area for sale but also the area for consumption of alcohol, the court interpreted the description to mean that Wisconsin Dolls specifically wanted to serve and/or allow its patrons to consume alcohol on the entire eight acres of property. Id. at ¶38. Finding no legislative intention to relegate the sale or consumption of alcohol to indoor locations only, and noting that the town board voluntarily chose to approve the original liquor license, the court concluded that the description Wisconsin Dolls used on its renewal application was not void for lack of particularity. Id. at ¶¶40, 41.
Given that the license was valid, the court turned to Chapter 125 of the Wisconsin Statutes to analyze whether the Town had the authority to unilaterally reduce the description of the premises covered by the license. When reviewing the statues, the court pointed out that municipalities have only those powers specifically delegated to them by the legislature. Id. at ¶44 (citing Danielson v. City of Sun Prairie, 2000 WI App 227, ¶13, 239 Wis. 2d 178, 619 N.W.2d 108). Therefore, finding no statute specifically enumerating a municipality’s authority to modify a liquor license, the court held that such authority does not exist, and thus the Town of Dell Prairie acted outside of its authority in modifying Wisconsin Dolls’ liquor license. Id. at ¶¶45, 52. In the alternative, the supreme court suggested that a town could pass a valid regulation or ordinance under § 125.10(1), follow the procedures for revocation, suspension, refusal to issue or renew under § 125.12, or negotiate the consent of the licensee. Id. at ¶3.
2012 WI 64
Issue 1: Can a defendant challenge the basis of a traffic stop at the refusal hearing?
Issue 2: Did the police officer have reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant absent a traffic violation?
Holding 1: Wis. Stat. §343.305(9)(a)5.a. allows a defendant to argue the constitutionality of a traffic stop at a refusal hearing.
Holding 2: Although a series of innocent acts may not individually give rise to reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop, the sum of those acts did add up to a rational inference that crime was afoot, justifying the investigatory stop.
On January 31, 2010, at 1:15 a.m., a police officer stopped Dimitrius Anagnos’ vehicle after watching his vehicle pull out of a parking lot and drive across an elevated median to make a left turn. State v. Anagnos, 2012 WI 64, ¶6. The officer had also observed the vehicle accelerate rapidly to a stoplight, make a left turn without signaling, and again accelerate rapidly. Id. Based on these actions, the officer stopped Anagnos. Id. He determined Anagnos was intoxicated, but when Anagnos refused to consent to chemical testing, he filed the notice of intent to revoke Anagnos’ driving privileges pursuant to Wis. Stat. §343.305(9)(a). Id. at ¶7.
That the officer had probable cause to believe Anagnos was intoxicated was undisputed. Id. at ¶8. Rather, at the revocation hearing Anagnos argued that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to lawfully stop his vehicle. Id. The circuit court held, and the appellate court affirmed, that the state could not revoke Anagnos’ driving privileges because the traffic stop was unconstitutional. Id. at ¶¶16, 18. The state challenged the decisions of the lower courts on the grounds that a defendant could not argue the lawfulness of a stop at a refusal hearing, but only whether or not there was probable cause to arrest the defendant for operating while intoxicated under Wis. Stat. §343.305(9)(a)5.a. Id. at ¶26.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court adjudicated two issues on appeal. First, the court considered whether a defendant may challenge the lawfulness of a stop under Wis. Stat. §343.305(9)(a)5.a. at a refusal hearing. Id. at ¶19. Second, the court considered whether the officer had either probable cause or reasonable suspicion to conduct a lawful traffic stop of Anagnos’ vehicle. Id. at ¶20. The court began by examining the language of Wis. Stat. §343.305(9)(a)5.a. in relevant part:
“Whether the officer had probable cause to believe the person was driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol…and whether the person was lawfully placed under arrest for violation of [an OWI-related statute].”
Id. at ¶27. Analyzing the plain meaning of the statute, the court held that the use of the word “and” was meant to denote the last clause as a second issue that a defendant may contest at a refusal hearing, thus clearly denoting the defendant’s ability to challenge the constitutionality of the initial investigatory stop. Id. at ¶¶32, 40.
To adjudicate the second issue, the court noted that the stop was not lawful if it were not supported by probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Id. at ¶42. It first deferred to the circuit court’s conclusion that Anagnos had committed no traffic violation to clearly justify the stop. Id. at ¶45. Nonetheless, the court referenced the principle that a traffic stop may be supported by reasonable suspicion even if no traffic violation occurred. See, State v. Post, 301 Wis. 2d 1, ¶24; State v. Waldner, 206 Wis. 2d 51, 57, 556 N.W.2d 681 (1996). Rather, the standard for reasonable suspicion is whether there are specific and articulable facts that, taken together, create a reasonable inference to support the stop. State v. Post, 301 Wis. 2d, ¶¶10, 37.
Relying on the precedent set by Post, the court held that the circuit court erred by looking at the events of the night individually, and that, when taken together, the series of odd driving actions at such a late hour did in fact give the officer reasonable suspicion to stop Anagnos. Anagnos at ¶¶55, 56. Thus, the court reversed the case and remanded it to circuit court to revoke Anagnos’ driving privileges under Wis. Stat. §343.305(9)(d). Id. at ¶61.
2012 WI 61
Issue: Was the information provided from several informants combined with police corroboration sufficient to provide the requisite reasonable suspicion justifying an investigatory stop?
Holding: The police acted with reasonable suspicion because the final informant showed indicators of reliability in that the person provided information that was consistent with the prior anonymous tips and accurate enough for police to corroborate, as well as self-identifying information.
Joseph Miller pled no contest to possession of between 5 and 15 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute as party to a crime contrary to Wis. Stat. §961.41(1m)(cm)2 and Wis. Stat. §939.05. 2012 WI 61, ¶17, 21. His appeal stems from the circuit court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained from an investigatory stop. Id. at ¶1. Miller argues that the stop was unlawful because the police lacked reasonable suspicion, basing their decision only on tips from unreliable sources that included an inmate, three anonymous Crime Stoppers calls, and a semi-anonymous source. Id. at ¶8, 9, 11. Miller further challenged the reasonableness of conducting a stop based on these tips because police were not able to corroborate or disprove much of the information. Id. at ¶ 10.
The controversy centers on the reliability of the final tip from the semi-anonymous source, on which the police relied most when making the decision to stop Miller. It came from a person who contacted the police through one of the department’s known informants. Id. at ¶ 11. That person provided the detective with his first name, phone number, and information about Miller's plans to obtain additional drugs with the help and vehicle of a partner. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. Police were able to corroborate the partner's residence and vehicle information. Id. at ¶ 12. They were also able to corroborate the information regarding the predicted time and location of Miller's return. Id. at ¶ 16. The police stopped Miller's car on his return and discovered various illegal drugs, ultimately leading Miller to plead no contest to possession of between 5 and 15 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute as party to a crime contrary to Wis. Stat. §961.41(1m)(cm)2 and Wis. Stat. §939.05. Id. at ¶ 17, 21.
Miller challenged the validity of the stop based on the fact that most of the information came from anonymous and unreliable sources, and claimed that the drug evidence could not be admitted because the tips could not give police reasonable suspicion to stop him. Id. at ¶ 49. The court agreed that the first tips from the inmate and the anonymous Crime Stoppers tipster had limited reliability because of the questionable motives of the inmate, the anonymity of the Crime Stoppers tipster, and the lack of details. Id. at ¶ 57.
The court disagreed with Miller about the unreliability of the final informant. It first noted that reliability of information is based on a balance between a detailed and accurate statement and an identified informant. Miller at ¶ 31 (citing State v. Williams, 241 Wis. 2d 631). Specifically, the court pointed to precedent holding that an anonymous tip may be the basis for reasonable suspicion that crime is afoot if it provides "specific details and future predictions that police are able to corroborate". Miller at ¶ 37 (citing Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325). It also added that although the informant asked to remain anonymous, the informant could not be considered anonymous for the purpose of determining reliability because he provided sufficient self-identifying information to know that he could be held accountable for providing false information to law enforcement. Id. at ¶ 52. Taken in the aggregate, the tip gave the police the requisite reasonable suspicion to stop Miller because it both came from an identifiable source and contained sufficient details and future predictions that police were able to corroborate. Id. at ¶ 55.