CHICAGO (WTAQ) - A northern Wisconsin sheriff’s officer was wrong to stop a vehicle just because it was driving away from a suspected illegal meth-amphetamine lab.
That’s what a three judge federal appellate court panel in Chicago decided, in a case from Lincoln County.
According to the opinion, a veteran county sheriff’s investigator was tipped off about an illegal remote meth lab in Lincoln County. But before he could find it, the officer saw a car leaving a cabin and then turning back.
When it returned to the road, the deputy stopped the vehicle – and one of two men admitted the cabin had a meth lab.
Investigators then obtained a search warrant to get their evidence. But the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said a mere suspicion of illegal activity at a certain place is, “not enough to transfer that suspicion to anyone who leaves that property.”
You can read the full opinion here.
Madison District Judge William Conley said the investigator acted in good faith, and therefore the stop was okay. But the appeals court said, “The Government doesn’t point to a single case where the good faith exception applied to a lack of reasonable suspicion – and we don’t think it does.”