Articles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court

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The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion in when it denied Appellant’s second petition for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing. Appellant was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of release. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions on direct appeal. In his first petition for postconviction relief, Appellant raised claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s summary denial of the first petition. After hiring a private investigator to look into his case, Appellant filed a second postconviction petition. The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s summary denial of the petition, holding that even if Appellant proved the facts alleged in the petition at an evidentiary hearing, the petition, files, and records of the proceedings conclusively showed that Appellant was not entitled to relief. View "Zornes v. State" on Justia Law

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The chemical 1,1-difluoroethane (DFE) is not a hazardous substance under Minn. Stat. 169A.03(9) because it is not listed as a hazardous substance in Minn. R. ch. 5206. Appellant was arrested three times on suspicion of driving while impaired (DWI). An analysis of her blood showed the presence of DFE. Appellant was convicted of three counts of third-degree DWI for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a hazardous substance. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that DFE is not a hazardous substance under the definition provided in section 169A.03(9). View "State v. Carson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ decision to uphold Defendant’s conviction for second-degree intentional murder but reversed the court’s reversal of Defendant’s sentence of 480 months in prison. The court of appeals concluded that the district court abused its discretion when it imposed the sentence, which reflected an upward durational departure from the presumptive range for 312 to 439 months, and remanded for resentencing. The Supreme Court held (1) the court of appeals properly affirmed Defendant’s conviction; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that there was a sufficient basis to enhance Defendant’s sentence from the presumptive guidelines range. View "State v. Parker" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff may file a petition for an order declaring her eligible for compensation under Minnesota’s Imprisonment and Exoneration Remedies Act, Minn. Stat. 590.11, 611.362-.368. Several years after the Supreme Court reversed Plaintiff’s conviction for second-degree manslaughter Plaintiff filed a petition seeking remuneration as an “exonerated” individual under section 590.11. The district court denied the petition, concluding (1) Petitioner was not “exonerated” under the statute because the prosecutor never dismissed the second-degree-manslaughter charge, and (2) the prosecutorial-dismissal requirement does not violate equal protection. The court of appeals, however, ruled that the prosecutorial-dismissal requirement violates equal protection and severed the requirement from the remainder of the provision rather than invalidating the entirety of section 590.11(1)(1)(i). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff was not “exonerated” under the statute when the Supreme Court reversed her conviction; (2) a statute cannot constitutionally require a prosecutor to dismiss charges that have already been reversed by an appellate court; and (3) the remedy for the as-applied equal-protection violation is to sever section 590.11(1)(1)(i) from the remainder of the statute. View "Back v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether State v. Her, 862 N.W.2d 692 (Minn. 2015), applies retroactively to sentences that were imposed and became final before Her was decided. In Her, the Supreme Court ruled that the fact that a defendant was a risk-level-III offender at the time of the offense of failing to register as a predatory offender must be admitted by the defendant or found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt before a court may impose a ten-year period of conditional release as part of the defendant’s sentence. The district court in this case granted Respondent’s motion to correct his sentence, concluding that Respondent’s ten-year conditional-release term was illegal because Her applied to the sentence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Her announced a new rule of constitutional criminal procedure that does not apply to the collateral review of Respondent’s sentence. View "State v. Meger" on Justia Law

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The part of Minnesota’s disorderly-conduct statute that prohibits “disturb[ing]” assemblies or meetings, Minn. Stat. 609.72(1)(2), violates the First Amendment. Defendant was convicted of disorderly conduct under section 609.72(1)(2) after a jury trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that the statute violates the First Amendment because it is unconstitutionally overbroad, unconstitutionally vague, and unconstitutional as applied. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the constitute was constitutional and was not subject to standard overbreadth analysis. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute suffers from substantial overbreadth and that there is no reasonable narrowing construction of the statute. View "State v. Hensel" on Justia Law

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An individual may commit motor vehicle theft without moving the vehicle. Defendant was charged with theft of a motor vehicle under Minn. Stat. 609.52(2)(a)(17) even though he never moved the vehicle. The district court dismissed the charge for lack of probable cause, concluding that the word “takes” in the statute required Defendant to move the vehicle. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the motor vehicle theft charge due to the absence of any evidence that Defendant moved the vehicle at issue. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that to “take” a motor vehicle under section 609.52(2)(a)(17), an individual must only adversely possess it. View "State v. Thonesavanh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of first-degree premeditated murder on an accomplice-liability theory. The court held (1) the district court did not commit clear error by denying Defendant’s Batson objection to the State’s peremptory challenge to exclude a black prospective juror trial because Defendant failed to establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion or violate Defendant’s right to present a complete defense by refusing to allow Defendant to develop an alternative theory to explain why the murder weapon was found in a storage unit rented to an alleged accomplice. View "State v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court for Defendant’s convictions for third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct on an accomplice-liability theory. The district court granted Defendant’s motion for a downward dispositional departure, stayed execution of a 140-month sentence for fifteen years, and required Defendant to comply with several probationary conditions. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that an offender’s minor or passive role is an adequate reason for a downward dispositional departure and that the record supported the district court’s finding that Defendant played a minor or passive role in the third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by finding that Defendant’s minor or passive role in the offense was a substantial and compelling reason to depart from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. View "State v. Stempfley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s sentence of 135 months in prison for his conviction for first-degree possession of methamphetamine, holding that resentencing was required under sentencing grid as amended by the Drug Sentencing Reform Act (DSRA). The DSRA, which took effect after Defendant committed his offense, reduced the presumptive sentencing range under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines drug offender sentencing grid for Defendant’s crime. The Supreme Court held that Defendant must be resentenced under the DSRA-amended sentencing grid, holding that the amelioration doctrine required that Defendant be resentenced. View "State v. Otto" on Justia Law