Missouri v. McNeely - Oral Argument - January 09, 2013

Missouri v. McNeely

Media for Missouri v. McNeely

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 17, 2013 in Missouri v. McNeely

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 09, 2013 in Missouri v. McNeely

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument first this morning in Case Number 11-1425, Missouri v. McNeely.

Mr. Koester.

John N. Koester, Jr.:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

In the course of a drunk driving investigation, quickly securing blood alcohol evidence with as little delay as possible is incredibly important--

Sonia Sotomayor:

How come it took so long for this State to figure out that it needed to do this without a warrant?

John N. Koester, Jr.:

--Well--

Sonia Sotomayor:

The officer testified that he's been making drunk driving arrests for years--

John N. Koester, Jr.:

--Yes, Your Honor.

Sonia Sotomayor:

--and I think in only one circumstance did he need to do it without a warrant.

So what made the need here eminently the sense of impractical to get the warrant?

John N. Koester, Jr.:

Well, Your Honor, back in 2003, there was an appellate court case from Missouri that dealt with the importance of the words--

Sonia Sotomayor:

No, I understand why he decided to do it, to forego getting a warrant.

Isn't his testimony dispositive of this case?

He had time to get it.

John N. Koester, Jr.:

--Your Honor, that -- that ignores the fact that had he sought a warrant -- there's no question that he would have been able to secure a warrant.

The issue was, it was going to take a considerable amount of time.

Sonia Sotomayor:

But it took a considerable amount of time for all the years he did it.

John N. Koester, Jr.:

That's true, Your Honor.

Sonia Sotomayor:

And -- and he didn't testify to it causing a loss of any particular case.

John N. Koester, Jr.:

But in this particular case, it was going to take 90 minutes to 2 hours to secure the warrant.

And during that period of time, the most probative evidence was going to be dissipating, was going--

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

But he said -- he said in the ten or so cases he had had in the past, I had -- I encountered no difficulty getting a warrant in prior cases.

There was nothing that distinguished this case on the facts from other cases on the facts.

John N. Koester, Jr.:

--That's correct, Justice Ginsburg, he never had a problem securing a warrant, but there was a delay; and that's -- that's the difference.

We're -- we're looking at a delay, and quickly securing blood alcohol evidence is important, because the evidence is being lost at a significant rate with every minute that passes.

Sonia Sotomayor:

What constitutional right exists for a State to get the best evidence?

John N. Koester, Jr.:

Well, Justice Sotomayor, I think that that is something that we should always strive for, to be able to get the best possible evidence in the case.

Sonia Sotomayor:

No, no, no.

You, the State, want to strive for that.