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Court rules against car-search where illegal gun was found

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  A Milwaukee man had a gun conviction thrown out yesterday after the State Supreme Court ruled that police should not have stopped his car where his illegal gun was found. The issue was over a defective tail-light -- and the dissenting justices said the 4-to-3 ruling will make it harder for police officers throughout Wisconsin to know when they can legally stop drivers for having a light burned out.

Antonio Brown was on extended supervision for armed robbery, when he and a friend were stopped in July of 2010 for having one light burned out in a series of tail-lights. As part of the traffic stop, officers searched the vehicle and found that Brown had a gun he should not have had due to his previous felony conviction. He was sent back to prison for three years. The tail light sequence on Brown's car was a central issue in the case. The law requires tail-lamps to be in "good working order," and the Supreme Court's majority found that the law can be followed even with one light among several burned out. That's because the phrase "good working order" is not legally defined.

In a dissent, Justice David Prosser said "good working order" implies that all tail-lights work perfectly. Justices Annette Ziegler and Pat Roggensack also ruled against the car owner.

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