Cady v. Dombrowski

RESPONDENT: Dombrowski
LOCATION: Allegheny County District Court

DOCKET NO.: 72-586
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 413 US 433 (1973)
ARGUED: Mar 21, 1973
DECIDED: Jun 21, 1973

Leroy L. Dalton - for petitioner
William J. Mulligan - for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Cady v. Dombrowski

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 21, 1973 in Cady v. Dombrowski

Warren E. Burger:

72-586, Cady against Dombrowski.

Mr. Dalton.

Leroy L. Dalton:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is an action in habeas corpus in which the Court Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted Dombrowski the respondent a writ from his imprisonment in Wisconsin for murder unless the State elects to retry Dombrowski.

Dombrowski was convicted of murder in 1968 in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.

An appeal was taken to the Wisconsin Supreme Court which affirmed that a collateral attack was made on that judgment in the District Court of Milwaukee.

Habeas corpus was denied.

The case went to the Seventh Circuit.

On September 9, 1967, Mr. Dombrowski who was an off-duty Chicago policeman drove his 1960 Dodge automobile to his brother’s farm near Kewaskum, Wisconsin.

That evening, the car became disabled.

In the following afternoon, he had it towed to his brother’s farm.

He left it there and returned to Chicago with his brother that day.

At 12:30 a.m., the following morning, that’s September 11, he rented a 1967 red Thunderbird at the O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

At 10:30 that night, still the 11th, he was involved in an accident near Kewaskum, Wisconsin.

He called the Sheriff’s Department and two officers picked him up in the Village of Kewaskum and went to the scene of the accident.

He informed them that he was a Chicago police officer.

They found the car off to the highway and they called for a wrecker, and Officer Bowdry did a cursory inspection of the interior of the vehicle to see if his service revolver was there.

It was not.

The vehicle was towed to the garage at Kewaskum where it was parked outside of the garage and Dombrowski was taken to the Sheriff’s office in West Bend. He was later charged with drunk driving, became incoherent and was at the hospital being checked by a doctor, unable to communicate with the doctor.

An officer Weiss, the other officer who had been on the Sheriff’s department for five-and-a-half months decided that in view of the fact that this man was a Chicago police officer, he very likely had that gun somewhere in his vehicle and he should go back and look for it.

So, he drove back to the unattended vehicle, opened up the front door, looked in the front end and found a Book of Rules of the Chicago Police Department.

Obviously, feeling then that he was on the right track because if a man carries his rulebook, he probably has his other paraphernalia of his police officer status, he opened the trunk still looking for the gun but he found bloody material including officer’s pants, a nightstick covered with blood and a tarp, a floor tarp from a Dodge automobile.

Potter Stewart:

And the --

Leroy L. Dalton:

Saturated with blood.

Potter Stewart:

The automobile this time was that a repair shop?

Was it?

Leroy L. Dalton:

It was outside of a filling station garage in this small town.

Potter Stewart:

That had been towed there?

Leroy L. Dalton:

It had been towed there and left there outside of the garage by the officers.

The officers called the tow operator and he brought the vehicle there.