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Evidence Of Meth Lab Can Be Used In Juneau County Trial Of Sean Fox On Methamphetamine Manufacturing And Other Drug Charges, Court Of Appeals Holds

"As long as meth labs menace Wisconsin citizens, we'll continue to shut them down," says Van Hollen


MADISON, AUGUST 7, 2008: The Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed a Juneau County Circuit Court order that suppressed evidence seized by Juneau County Sheriff Department investigators and a Department of Justice - Division of Criminal Investigation agent. Police investigators seized evidence of the methamphetamine lab pursuant to a warrantless search. Today's decision holds that evidence obtained from the search can be used at trial. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office helped render the lab safe and represented the State on appeal, applauded the decision:


"This decision is an important step in our fight against methamphetamine crimes," said Van Hollen. "As long as meth labs menace Wisconsin citizens, we'll continue to shut them down."


In reversing the suppression order, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals concluded that Fox failed to prove that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the trailer that was searched. Van Hollen explained: "To challenge a search under the Fourth Amendment, a person must have standing - legitimate expectation of privacy in the area searched. Here, Fox was a friend of the homeowner's son. He had a limited connection to the trailer, and thus no standing to challenge the search."


Today's decision and opinion of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals may be found at the court's website:


Fox faces charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, delivering drug paraphernalia, and possession of waste from methamphetamine manufacturing. The charges were brought by the Juneau County District Attorney. This is a pretrial appeal. Fox enjoys a presumption of innocence, and the State will be required to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.


Ten clandestine meth labs have been dismantled in Wisconsin in 2008, and twelve labs were dismantled in 2007. As recently as 2004, there were nearly 100 meth labs dismantled in Wisconsin.


The State of Wisconsin is represented in Juneau County Circuit Court by the Juneau County District Attorney's Office. Assistant Attorney General Stephen W. Kleinmaier represented the State in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.