Articles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that two Minnesota statutes - Minn. Stat. 609.749, subd. 2(6), the stalking-by-mail provision, and Minn. Stat. 609.795, subd. 1(3), the mail-harassment statute - are constitutional under the First Amendment, holding that both statutes are facially overbroad. A.J.B. was found guilty of gross-misdemeanor stalking by use of the mail, misdemeanor harassment by use of the mail, and felony stalking. The court of appeals affirmed A.J.B.'s adjudications for stalking by mail and mail harassment, thus rejecting his constitutional challenges. On appeal, A.J.B. argued that his adjudications under the stalking-by-mail provision and mail-harassment statute must be vacated as contravening the First Amendment. The Supreme Court held (1) section 609.749, subd. 2(6), is facially overbroad and not subject to either a narrowing construction or severance of unconstitutional provisions; (2) section 609.795, subd. 1(3), is facially overbroad, but the statute can be saved through severance of the constitutionally problematic language; and (3) because it is unclear whether Defendant's adjudication of delinquency for mail-harassment is based on the severed language, Defendant's adjudication under section 609.795, subd. 1(3), is reversed and the case remanded. View "In re A.J.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's convictions for first-degree sexual conduct and domestic assault by strangulation, holding that Minn. R. Crim. P. 9.01 subs. 1-1a does not authorize an inspection of a crime scene in the control of a third party and that, even if Defendant had a constitutional right to inspect the crime scene, any error in denying that right was harmless. Before trial, Defendant filed a motion to allow his counsel and investigator to enter his former residence to inspect and photograph the crime scene. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals held that Defendant had a right under Rule 9.01, subs. 1-1a, to inspect the crime scene but was not entitled to a new trial because the denial of his motion to inspect was harmless. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Rule 9.01, subs. 1-1a, does not allow the State to allow a defendant to inspect a crime scene that is the control of a third party; and (2) even if assuming Defendant had the constitutional inspection rights he asserted here, any error in denying his motions to inspect the property was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals upholding the district court's ruling that the admission of statements made by Defendant using a foreign language interpreter did not violate the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution or hearsay rules, holding that the Confrontation Clause was not violated in this case and that the statements were not subject to the hearsay rules. The district court convicted Defendant of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and sentenced him to 144 months in prison. Defendant appealed, arguing that the admission of his translated statements violated the Confrontation Clause and hearsay rules. The court of appeals upheld the district court's ruling that the court's admission of the interpreter's translated statements were proper. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the translated statements did not violate the Confrontation Clause and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the translated statements into evidence over the hearsay objection by Defendant. View "State v. Lopez-Ramos" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court determining that Appellant was not entitled to custody credit against her Minnesota sentence for time spent in the custody of the Red Lake Nation, holding that Appellant was not entitled to custody credit against her Minnesota sentence for the time she spent in Red Lake custody because her Minnesota conviction was not the sole reason for her Red Lake custody. In 2011, Appellant was convicted of third-degree controlled-substance crime in Beltrami County District Court. The district court stayed imposition of Appellant's sentence and placed her on probation. In 2017, while she was still on probation, Appellant was convicted of two gross misdemeanors in Red Lake Tribal Court. After serving her sentence in the Red Lake Detention Center Appellant was released directly to Beltrami County because the district court had revoked her stay. The district court concluded that Appellant was not entitled to custody credit for her incarceration time in the Red Lake Detention Center. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant was not entitled to custody credit against her Minnesota sentence for the time she spent in Red Lake custody. View "State v. Roy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to strike for lack of probable cause count 3, domestic assault with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm, which was charged as a felony under Minn. Stat. 609.2242, subd. 4, holding that the unambiguous language of the statute supported the felony charges. In moving to strike count 3, Defendant argued that using his previous convictions to enhance count 3 to a felony was inconsistent with Minn. Stat. 609.035, which prohibits multiple punishments for the same course of conduct. The district court granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that section 609.035 did not prohibit enhancement under subdivision 4. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the domestic abuse charges against Defendant qualified for the enhancement provided by subdivision 4. View "State v. Defatte" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for first-degree premeditated murder but reversed Defendant's conviction for second-degree intentional murder, holding that the district court improperly entered a conviction on both first-degree and second-degree murder. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the recorded statement of an eyewitness under Minn. R. Evid. 807 even after the witness partially recanted the statement at trial; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the evidence of the contents of a backpack linking Appellant to items that went missing with the murder weapon; (3) the district court erred by entering a conviction for both first-degree and second-degree murder because second-degree intentional murder is a lesser-included offense of first-degree premeditated murder; and (4) none of Appellant's pro se claims had merit. View "State v. Hallmark" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing Defendant's conviction of burglary in the first degree and criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree on the ground that the district court's failure to sua sponte instruct the jurors on the proper use of Minn. Stat. 634.20 relationship evidence was plain error, holding that the relevant law was unsettled at the time of appellate review, and therefore, Defendant failed to establish an error that was plain. At trial, the district court admitted section 634.20 evidence without sua sponge instructing the jurors on the proper use of that evidence. The court of appeals reversed due to the district court's failure to sua sponte instruct the jurors as such. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) for trials held after the release of this opinion, the rule that when a district court admits relationship evidence under Minn. Stat. 634.20 over a defendant's objection that the evidence does not satisfy section 634.20, the court must sua sponte instruct the jurors on the proper use of such evidence unless the defendant objects to the instruction by the court is hereby adopted; and (2) the district court's failure to give such an instruction was not an error that was plain. View "State v. Zinski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the postconviction court summarily denying Appellant's claims for ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that Appellant's claims were barred by the relevant statute of limitations. Appellant was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder under an aiding-and-abetting theory of liability. The district court imposed a sentence of life without the possibility of release. Appellant later filed his postconviction petition requesting an evidentiary hearing on his claims for ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel and mentioning a motion for testing conducted under Minn. Stat. 590.01, subd. 1a. The postconviction court concluded that Appellant's claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations, Minn. Stat. 590.01, subd. 4. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations; and (2) Appellant's reference to testing did not satisfy the requirements of subdivision 1a. View "Jackson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Appellant's consecutive sentences, holding that consecutive sentences for Appellant's offenses were a departure for which the district court had to provide written reasons, and in the absence of those written reasons, Appellant's consecutive sentences were unauthorized by law. Appellant filed a motion to correct his consecutive sentences under Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 9. The district court construed the motion as a petition for postconviction relief, which it denied as untimely. The court of appeals reversed the determination that Appellant's motion must be construed as a postconviction petition but affirmed the consecutive sentences. The Supreme Court reversed. On remand, the district court modified Appellant's sentences to run concurrently. The court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court held (1) Minn. R. Crim. P. 29.04, subd. 6 does not allow the State to argue, without seeking review, that the court of appeals erroneously reversed the district court's determination that construed Appellant's motion as a postconviction petition; and (2) Appellant's consecutive sentences were unauthorized by law because they were an upward departure from the presumptive sentence under the applicable version of the guidelines and the district court failed to give any reason justifying the departure. View "Bilbro v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to the State on Appellant's claims alleging false imprisonment and negligence, holding that the conditional release imposed under Minn. Stat. 169A.276, subd. 1(d), unambiguously begins when a Challenge Incarceration Program participant enters phase II of the program and begins living in the community. Appellant, a participant in the Challenge Incarceration Program administered by the Department of Corrections, brought this action arguing that the State failed correctly to calculate his conditional-release term and revoked his conditional release improperly after it had already ended. Specifically, Appellant argued that he was "released from prison" within the meaning of section 169A.276, subd. 1(d) when he entered phase II of that program. The district court granted the State's motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the conditional-release term imposed by section 169A.276, subd. 1(d), begins when a participant in the Challenge Incarceration Program begins living in the community. View "Heilman v. Courtney" on Justia Law