Cape Girardeau County case headed to U.S. Supreme Court - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cape Girardeau County case headed to U.S. Supreme Court

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A DUI case that began in the Heartland is headed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case is Missouri versus McNeely and it all began in a Jackson courtroom.

Here's a quick breakdown:

October 2010: Tyler McNeely is pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving and taken to the hospital where his blood is drawn.

December 2010: McNeely's lawyer wants the blood evidence thrown out because the arresting officer did not have a search warrant.

March 2011: The judge agrees; the blood is out.

June 2011: The Missouri Court of Appeals rules the officer did not need a search warrant, so the blood's back in.

January 2012: The Missouri Supreme Court overruled that decision and took the blood back out.

That gets us to September 25, 2012 when the Cape Girardeau prosecuting attorney's office got word this back and forth issue will get a final judgement before our nation's highest court, which could have national implications.

"This is a case that will impact search and seizure law nationwide," said Morley Swingle, Cape Girardeau County prosecuting attorney. That impact will specifically involve whether or not it's ok for an officer to take your blood without a search warrant.

Prosecutors say the fact the Supreme Court took the case shows they feel drunk driving cases and laws are extremely important.

Jack Koester will argue the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in January.

"It's a huge honor and I am excited about the opportunity," said Koester.

Koester spent months working on detailed petitions to get the case before our nation's highest court.

He and Swingle say that was the biggest hurdle. They tell Heartland News state courts across the country are at odds over whether or not you need a warrant to take a blood sample in DUI cases, and this case will set the standard.

"The stats alone showed what a lottery this was because last year there were 8000 petitions and they only took 75 cases," said Swingle. "So it was a long shot but I think the reason they took it is because it's so hugely important because drink driving is happening all the time and police officers and the public need the answer to whether or not a search warrant is needed."

"We do have our work cut out for us," said Koester.

Koester says he will be doing a lot of preparation.

"The reason that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide to take a case is to resolve conflicts and there is a wide range in conflict in state courts all across the country," Koester said.

We tried to get in touch with Tyler McNeely who was pulled over near Hwy. 74 and Kingshighway on October 3, 2010.

Blood tests showed McNeely's blood alcohol content at nearly twice the legal limit.

His lawyer, Steve Wilson says he and his client believe the Missouri Supreme Court correctly ruled on the issue to throw the blood evidence out. Wilson says McNeely is understandably anxious but he understands the importance of this issue and they look forward to a resolution.

Wilson says the ACLU will take the lead role in filing briefs and arguing the case before the high court in Washington D.C. in January.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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