Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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North Dakota appealed a district court order dismissing with prejudice felony charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver against Mitchell James and Taelor Brown. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the production of hash oil is "manufacturing" as defined in N.D.C.C. 19-03.1-01(17), and because the district court made a mistake of law regarding the possession with intent to deliver charge, the State met the burden of proving probable cause. View "North Dakota v. James" on Justia Law

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William Wallace appealed a second amended criminal judgment entered after he pleaded guilty to luring minors by computer or other electronic means. Before accepting a guilty plea, the district court must inform a defendant of and determine the defendant understood any mandatory minimum penalty, including any mandatory minimum term of probation. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not substantially comply with N.D.R.Crim.P. 11 when the court failed to inform Wallace of and determine that he understood the five-year mandatory minimum period of probation. The Court therefore reversed and remanded this case to the district court to allow Wallace to withdraw his plea of guilty and for further necessary proceedings. View "North Dakota v. Wallace" on Justia Law

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Ryan Korb appealed a judgment affirming a Department of Transportation decision suspending his driving privileges for ninety-one days. Korb argued: (1) the arresting officer improperly included additional language before he read the statutorily required implied consent advisory; and (2) the record evidence was insufficient to establish that this blood test sample had been properly obtained. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the officer did not act improperly by prefacing the implied consent advisory with accurate information, and the record evidence was sufficient to establish that the blood test sample had been properly obtained. View "Korb v. N.D. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation appealed a district court judgment reversing the Department's decision to suspend Jim DeForest's driving privileges. In November 2017, Deputy Jared Lemieux stopped appellee Jim DeForest for exceeding the speed limit by ten miles per hour. During the stop, DeForest exhibited signs of intoxication. After conducting field sobriety tests, Lemieux arrested DeForest for driving under the influence of alcohol. Lemieux read DeForest Miranda warnings and a post-arrest implied consent advisory, omitting reference to criminal penalties for refusal of breath or urine tests. Lemieux then requested a blood test. Prior to Lemieux's advisory and request, DeForest had asked for a chemical blood test. DeForest consented to a blood test. During the administrative hearing, DeForest objected to admission of the blood test result, arguing non-compliance with the required implied consent advisory procedure. The hearing officer admitted the blood test evidence over the objection and found Lemieux "read the implied consent advisory in accordance with N.D.C.C. section 39-20-01(3)(a)." DeForest appealed to the district court, arguing the implied consent advisory given was incomplete and thus the blood test evidence was inadmissible. The district court concluded the hearing officer erred in admitting the blood test evidence and reinstated DeForest's driving privileges. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the phrase "any criminal penalties" in N.D.C.C. 39-20-01(3)(a) meant what it plainly said, and included all criminal penalties, including penalties for refusal of "blood, breath, or urine" tests under N.D.C.C. 39-08-01(1)(e)(2). "It is not consistent with plain meaning to read 'any criminal penalties' as implicitly referring only to criminal penalties for refusing blood tests." Therefore, the Court reversed the district court judgment and reinstated the hearing officer's decision to suspend DeForest's driving privileges. View "DeForest v. N.D. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law

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JanMichel Wangstad was convicted by jury of attempted murder. Wangstad argued on appeal: (1) the district court erred in the admission of social media posts he made prior to the alleged crime; (2) the jury was given erroneous instructions; and (3) the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. West Fargo police were dispatched to the Rodeway Inn in response to a report of a man with a gun. Responding officers located the source of the disturbance in one of the rooms. One of the officers knocked on the door of the room and announced, "police." A female acquaintance of Wangstad opened the door and began to step back into the room. The officers told the female to get down on the ground. Two officers then entered a few steps into the room and noticed Wangstad standing by a desk. Wangstad made a fast-paced movement from the desk to the corner of the room where he fired a gun in the direction of one of the officers. The bullet traveled through the wall above the entry door to the room and lodged into the wall of another room. Finding no reversible error in the district court judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed Wangstad's conviction. View "North Dakota v. Wangstad" on Justia Law

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Roger Davies appealed an order granting summary judgment and the district court judgment dismissing his application for post-conviction relief. In 2014, Roger Davies was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child. In November 2014, Davies pleaded guilty. During the change of plea, the district court advised Davies that as a part of the binding plea agreement, the court would not sentence him to more than 15 years imprisonment. After a presentence investigation, Davies was sentenced to a term of 15 years imprisonment and supervised probation for life. In March 2017, Davies filed a pro se application for post-conviction relief and a written request for a hearing. The application included several exhibits, including a page from his risk assessment, two pages from the sentencing transcript, two pages from his presentence investigation, a victim impact statement, two pages of the transcript from the change of plea hearing, and a copy of the information charging him. Davies' application alleged multiple legal errors leading to his conviction. Davies also alleged he received ineffective assistance of counsel on multiple grounds. Davies' application also claimed judicial bias, deficiencies with the charging document, an unduly harsh sentence, and prosecutorial misconduct. Davies' application included a verification stating he signed it as both the affiant and petitioner, and his signature was notarized. The State answered, moved for summary disposition, and filed a brief pointing to citations in the record, arguing Davies' application did not raise a genuine issue of material fact. Davies requested a hearing on his application for post-conviction relief through his attorney, and personally responded to the State's motion for summary disposition. The court proceeded with arguments on the State's summary disposition motion. No additional evidence was presented. The court stated on the record there was no evidence presented in affidavit form by Davies. The court granted the State's motion and summarily dismissed the application for post-conviction relief. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined Davies raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his guilty plea was properly obtained, and reversed only to this issue. The Court found all of Davies' other arguments failed. The matter was remanded for the trial court to conduct further proceedings. View "Davies v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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Mary Redway and Alexander Simon appealed after the district court found Redway guilty of disorderly conduct and Simon guilty of disorderly conduct and physical obstruction of a government function. Redway and Simon participated with a group of about 150 other individuals in a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline on October 22, 2016. The State initially charged several protesters, including Redway and Simon, with criminal trespass and engaging in a riot. The State subsequently dismissed those charges under N.D.R.Crim.P. 48 and filed new complaints against several protesters, including Redway and Simon, charging them with physical obstruction of a government function under N.D.C.C. 12.1-08-01, disobedience of a safety order during a riot under N.D.C.C. 12.1-25-04, and disorderly conduct under N.D.C.C. 12.1-31-01. Redway and Simon argued there was insufficient evidence to support their disorderly conduct convictions under N.D.C.C. 12.1-31-01; Redway and Simon claimed they were peaceful protesters marching in a field and caused no injuries to others or damage to property, and they argued their activity was constitutionally protected and should have been excluded from evidence under N.D.C.C. 12.1-31-01(2). Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "North Dakota v. Simon, North Dakota v. Redway" on Justia Law

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Morris Brickle-Hicks appealed after the district court denied his motion to suppress evidence and a jury found him guilty of murder. Brickle-Hicks argued the court erred in denying his motion to suppress incriminating statements made by him to law enforcement officers and physical evidence he provided to the officers. After review of the record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court's denial of Brickle-Hicks' motion to suppress was supported by sufficient competent evidence and was not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. View "North Dakota v. Brickle-Hicks" on Justia Law

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Clyde Pickens appeals a criminal judgment entered after a jury found him guilty of gross sexual imposition. Pickens argues the district court's errors in responding to two requests from the jury prejudiced his substantial rights and denied him a fair trial. After review of the trial court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court held a court must allow a jury to rehear any testimony requested. Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, a court must respond to a jury's question or request for testimony in open court. Here, the district court's failure to bring the jury into open court and inform them that audio testimony was available were not constitutional errors; the court's responses to the jury's requests occurred in Pickens' presence. It was unclear whether any communications occurred between the jury and the clerk outside of Pickens' presence. Without a record of the interaction between the clerk and the jury, the Supreme Court felt it could only speculate as to whether any communications between them violated Pickens' constitutional right to be present. The Court did not decide whether one of these errors by itself had a significant impact upon the verdict. Taken as a whole, it concluded that the cumulative effect of these errors denied Pickens his right to a fair trial and prejudiced his substantial rights. Therefore the judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial. View "North Dakota v. Pickens" on Justia Law

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Jesseaca Finneman appealed after a jury found her guilty of: (1) possession of more than 500 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver; (2) unlawful possession of hashish; and (3) two counts of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. Finneman argued she was entitled to a new trial because the jury verdict form for the charge of possession of more than 500 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver was confusing and misapplied the law. After review of the circumstances of this case, the North Dakota Supreme Court was satisfied that because of the confusion and uncertainty demonstrated during jury deliberations, Finneman established the plain error in the verdict form affected her substantial rights. The Court therefore reversed Finneman's conviction for possession with intent to deliver. View "North Dakota v. Finneman" on Justia Law