Derrick Sangster v. Thomas Hines, et al
Filed Nonprecedential Disposition PER CURIAM. AFFIRMED. Frank H. Easterbrook, Circuit Judge; Daniel A. Manion, Circuit Judge and Ilana Diamond Rovner, Circuit Judge. [6887175-1]  [17-1392]
To be cited only in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 32.1
United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Submitted November 20, 2017*
Decided November 30, 2017
FRANK H. EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge
DANIEL A. MANION, Circuit Judge
ILANA DIAMOND ROVNER, Circuit Judge
Appeal from the United
States District Court for the
Eastern District of Wisconsin.
DERRICK A. SANGSTER,
Lynn Adelman, Judge.
THOMAS HINES, et al.,
Derrick Sangster is in state prison following his plea of nolo contendere to drug and
firearms charges. He contends in this suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 that a search producing
incriminating evidence violated the Fourth Amendment. The details of his crimes, and
of the search, do not matter to this appeal, because the district court dismissed the suit
on the ground of issue preclusion. 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10955 (E.D. Wis. Jan. 25, 2017).
After examining the briefs and the record, we have concluded that oral argument is unnecessary.
See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a).
Sangster moved to suppress the evidence in the criminal prosecution, and the state
judge denied his motion after concluding that the search was lawful—because the initial
look-see had the consent of Sangster’s brother and then because the full search was authorized by a warrant. Sangster then entered his plea of no contest.
A decision is preclusive on a particular issue in Wisconsin (whose law governs, see
28 U.S.C. §1738 ¶3) if, among other things, the issue was actually and necessarily decided in the prior litigation and application of preclusion is fundamentally fair. See Estate
of Rille v. Physicians Insurance Co., 2007 WI 36 ¶¶ 36–38; Mrozek v. Intra Financial Corp.,
2005 WI 73 ¶17. The validity of the search was decided on the merits adversely to Sangster and, given the importance of the evidence, that decision was necessary to the success of the prosecution. In the district court, and again in this court, Sangster contends
that it nonetheless is not fair to treat the state court’s decision as preclusive. The district
court was not persuaded, nor are we. The record shows that the state judge took the issue seriously, held a multiday hearing, and made findings on the contested issues. These findings were adverse to Sangster, but that does not make the hearing inadequate or
the decision unfair. Nor does the fact that the state judge considered some evidence that
may have been inadmissible at trial; this is normal when addressing motions to suppress. Sangster had an opportunity for an appellate resolution but chose not to use it.
We need not add to what the district court wrote on this subject.
In the district court Sangster hinted at a second possible argument: that although the
state court’s findings were necessary when rendered, they became unnecessary when he
pleaded no contest. Given that plea, the evidence was not used at trial, for there was no
trial. Sangster did not develop that argument in the district court, however, or cite any
Wisconsin decision holding that a plea of guilty or no contest eliminates the preclusive
effect of findings that were vital to the criminal prosecution when rendered. Indeed,
Sangster does not contest this issue on appeal; his sole argument in this court is that application of issue preclusion would be unfair. Because Sangster has not argued this subject on appeal, the defendants have not briefed what may be a novel issue of Wisconsin
law. Cf. Haring v. Prosise, 462 U.S. 306, 316 (1983) (dealing with this subject under Virginia law). It would be inappropriate to tackle that subject without the assistance of
briefs. We limit our consideration to the only question Sangster has raised here and, because we agree with the district court’s handling of that question, the judgment is
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