Judges dismisses charges in Lac qui Parle County poaching case

Madison — A district judge has dismissed all 13 poaching-related charges against a Dawson, Minn., man – Joshua Liebl – in a case that has attracted statewide attention and has been cited by Gov. Mark Dayton as a reason to increase penalties in the most serious poaching cases.

Judge Thomas Van Hon ruled Liebl’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when conservation officers attached a GPS device to his pickup and tracked his movements for multiple days in October 2014. Based on a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court case from 2012,  Van Hon ruled officers needed a search warrant, which they did not have. As a result, Van Hon ruled, all evidence collected as a result was thrown out because it was “fruit of the poisonous tree.”

“Following the suppression of evidence, the charges are not supported by probable cause,” Van Hon wrote.

Among the 13 charges against Liebl were illegal transport, hunting with a revoked or suspended license, hunting out of season, taking big game during a closed season, and failing to register big game. 

DNR officers seized firearms, ammunition, Liebl’s truck, and shoulder mounts and antlers from 28 deer.

“This is an important victory for the rule of law and for the privacy of sportsmen of Minnesota,” Liebl’s defense attorney, Bill Peterson, said in a news release. “It should establish once and for all that DNR enforcement officers are subject to the same constitutional standards as any policemen or other law enforcement officer.”

The case could be appealed. For a full story, see next week’s issue of Outdoor News.

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