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MN Supreme Court December 2019 calendar

Monday, November 25, 2019  
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December 2019
SUMMARY OF ISSUES
Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office
Click here to watch oral arguments livestreaming  

Monday, December 2, 2019
AIM Development (USA), LLC, Appellant vs. City of Sartell, Respondent – Case No. A18-0443: Appellant AIM Development (USA), LLC, purchased a former paper mill site and landfill in respondent City of Sartell in 2013. AIM’s predecessors-in-title had received permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to operate an industrial solid waste land disposal facility. The City amended its zoning ordinance in 1989, which rendered industrial, non-hazardous landfills a non-permitted use of the land. However, the landfill continued to operate as a legal nonconforming use between 1989 and 2012, collecting waste generated by the paper mill operation.

In 2014, AIM submitted an application to the MPCA, seeking authority to deposit waste generated from operations other than the paper mill into the landfill. After the City objected, AIM initiated a declaratory judgment action. The district court found that the “use of the landfill is limited to waste generated by the paper mill operation” and “the disposal of other wastes and wastes from other generators is an unpermitted expansion of the use.” The court of appeals affirmed, holding that “[a] landowner seeking to continue a prior permitted nonconforming use of property is bound by the uses allowed under the terms of the land-use permit in effect at the time of the property transfer.”

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are (1) whether the court of appeals erred when it held that AIM’s nonconforming use rights are defined by the terms of the MPCA permit in effect when AIM purchased the landfill in 2013, rather than the zoning ordinances and circumstances when the use became nonconforming in 1989; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred when it concluded that “AIM’s proposal to accept waste from other waste sources constitutes an impermissible expansion of the prior nonconforming use.” (Stearns County)

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Randy Lee Thompson, Appellant – Case No. A18-0545: In 2017, Randy Thompson was charged with first-degree driving while impaired (DWI) after a Red Lake tribal police officer at a hospital on the Red Lake Indian Reservation observed Thompson driving while impaired and took custody of him. Because Thompson is not a member of the Red Lake Band of the Chippewa Indians, the tribal police officer contacted the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and transferred custody of Thompson to local law enforcement authorities for criminal prosecution. Thompson filed a pretrial suppression motion arguing that his arrest by the tribal police officer was unlawful because the officer lacked any authority to arrest him for violating a Minnesota state law on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. The district court denied the suppression motion and Thompson was convicted. Although the court of appeals concluded that the tribal police officer did not qualify as a peace officer under Minn. Stat. § 169A.03, subd. 18 (2018), and there was no evidence in the record to show that the tribal police officer had concurrent jurisdiction under Minn. Stat. § 626.93 (2018), the court of appeals determined that the tribal police officer had inherent authority to detain Thompson and transfer custody to local law enforcement authorities for criminal prosecution. Therefore, the court of appeals affirmed Thompson’s conviction.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue is whether the tribal police officer had authority to take custody of Thompson for violating a Minnesota state law on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and transfer custody of Thompson to local law enforcement authorities for criminal prosecution. (Beltrami County)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019
T.G.G., Appellant vs. H.E.S., Respondent, A.F.K., et al., intervenors, Respondents – Case No. A18-1616: Unless a statutory exception applies, Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 8(1) (2018) bars a putative father who is not married to a child’s mother and who fails to register with the Minnesota Fathers’ Adoption Registry within 30 days after the birth of the child “from bringing or maintaining an action to assert any interest in the child during the pending adoption proceeding concerning the child.” One such statutory exception applies to a putative father who, with the mother of the child, has signed a recognition of parentage (ROP) pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 257.75 (2018) that has not been revoked. See Minn. Stat. §§ 259.49, subd. 1(a)(7); 259.52, subds. 6, 8 (2018). An ROP may not be revoked after “the date of an administrative or judicial hearing relating to the child in which the revoking party is a party to the related action.” Minn. Stat. § 257.75, subd. 2.

Appellant T.G.G. (“father”) and respondent H.E.S. (“mother”) had sexual intercourse in March of 2017, and mother gave birth to a child in January of 2018. Two days after the birth, the child was placed for adoption with respondents A.F.K. and N.D.K. (“adoptive parents”). Father became aware of the birth and, 37 days after the birth, requested a paternity test. Fifty-two days after the birth the results indicated that father was the child’s biological father. Father asked mother to allow him to raise the child and to stop the adoption process, but mother refused. Sixty-eight days after the birth mother signed a voluntary recognition of parentage (ROP), which had the effect of recognizing father as the child’s biological father. On that same day father registered with the Fathers’ Adoption Registry.

Seventy days after the birth, father filed this paternity action, seeking to be adjudicated the father of the child and naming mother as a party, and sought injunctive relief prohibiting the adoption. Three days later, without the presence of any party, the district court issued an order enjoining any adoption. Meanwhile, between the 68th and 75th days, mother signed an ROP revocation form, which was received and processed by the Department of Health (as required by statute).

Father moved for summary judgment in the paternity action, and three days later, the adoptive parents filed a petition to adopt the child in Ramsey County, and moved to intervene in the paternity action and to dismiss that action under Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e). The district court granted the adoptive parents’ motions, dismissing the paternity action based on section 259.52, subdivision 8(1). The court of appeals affirmed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues are (1) whether section 259.52, subdivision 8(1) requires dismissal of a first-filed paternity action when the putative father registers with the Fathers’ Adoption Registry before an adoption petition is filed but more than 30 days after the child’s birth; (2) whether mother’s attempted revocation of the ROP was effective when it occurred after the district court had issued a temporary order restraining the adoption proceeding; and (3) whether section 259.52, subdivision 8 violates constitutional protections of due process and equal protection as applied to the facts of this case. (Isanti County)

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Duane A. Kennedy, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0055128 – Case No. A18-1799: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

Monday, December 9, 2019
James Salvatore Bergman, Respondent vs. Isanti County Sheriff Christopher Caulk, Appellant – Case No. A18-1784In 1996, respondent James Bergman was convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault. In 2007, Bergman filed a petition to expunge his conviction. The district court found Bergman did not qualify for statutory expungement, but the court used its inherent authority and granted Bergman expungement of judicial records related to his misdemeanor domestic-assault conviction.

Starting in 2008, Bergman was granted a permit to carry a pistol (carry permit). “[A] sheriff must issue a permit” to carry “to an applicant if the person” meets certain criteria. Minn. Stat. § 624.714, subd. 2(b) (2018). One criterion is that the person “is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under . . . any federal law.” Id., subd. 2(b)(4)(ix). Federal law prohibits a person “who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” from possessing a firearm. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) (2012). However, “[a] person shall not be considered to have been convicted of such an offense for purposes of this chapter if the conviction has been expunged or set aside.” 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33)(B)(ii) (2012).

In December 2017, Bergman applied to renew his carry permit. Appellant Isanti County Sheriff Christopher Caulk (“the Sheriff”) denied Bergman’s application because of his 1996 domestic-assault conviction.

Bergman filed a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the Sheriff to issue him a carry permit. The district court denied Bergman’s petition. A divided panel of the court of appeals reversed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether Bergman’s conviction for misdemeanor domestic assault disqualifies him from obtaining a permit to carry a firearm when judicial records related to that prior conviction have been sealed but executive branch records have not been sealed. (Isanti County)

In the Matter of Cindi Ali – Case No. A18-1287: Cindi Ali participates in the Section 8 housing choice voucher program, a federal program administered by the Scott County Community Development Agency. Ali has a developmentally disabled child and also participates in a state program known as the Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS) program. Her child is eligible for home and community-based services through the Developmental Disabilities waiver.

The County determined that the money that Ali receives for care that she personally provides for her child (the parent-allocated portion) must be included when calculating her household’s annual income for purposes of determining eligibility for the Section 8 program under 24 C.F.R. § 5.609 (2018). Ali challenged that determination. A hearing officer determined that the parent-allocated portion of the CDCS benefits constitutes annual income under the federal regulation for purposes of the Section 8 program. The court of appeals affirmed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether 24 C.F.R. § 5.609(c)(16) excludes, for purposes of calculating a family’s Section 8 household annual income, the parent-allocated portion of the CDCS benefits. (Scott County Community Development Agency.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. James Martin Alger, Sr., Appellant – Case No. A18-1000: Pursuant to a plea agreement, appellant James Martin Alger, Sr., pleaded guilty to two counts of violating an order for protection (OFP). As part of his factual basis, Alger admitted that he violated the OFP by having contact with his ex-girlfriend and their minor son. He also agreed that he would receive two sentences, which would be served consecutively. The district court imposed sentences that were consistent with the parties’ agreement. On appeal, Alger argued that the imposition of two sentences was unlawful under Minn. Stat. § 609.035 (2018). The court of appeals affirmed the sentences, relying on the multiple-victim rule.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether multiple sentences for OFP violations arising from a single incident may be permitted under the multiple-victim rule. (Crow Wing County)

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Paul Robert Hansmeier, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 0387795 – Case No. A19-0173: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019
State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. James Andre Woodard, Appellant – Case No. A18-1886: On July 28, 2017, D.H. was shot to death in an alley/parking lot area behind a townhouse complex in Minneapolis where D.H.’s sister and his children lived. Surveillance video evidence depicted a man in a hoodie who drew a gun, approached D.H., put the gun to the back of his head, and pulled the trigger. A number of witnesses described the shooter as a light-skinned African-American man with a gray hoodie and long hair in braids or dreadlocks, a description that matched appellant James Andre Woodard. Two of Woodard’s daughters, aged 10 and 11, identified Woodard as the shooter. The 10-year old also mentioned Woodard’s gold teeth as an identifying characteristic. In addition, an adult witness testified to talking with Woodard shortly prior to the shooting and witnessing Woodard commit the shooting.

Woodard was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, with intent-not premeditated. A grand jury then indicted him of first-degree premeditated murder. A 12-day trial was held. At the trial, Woodard sought to submit evidence that another individual who shares his general description (without the gold teeth) may have committed the murder. Specifically, Woodard sought to introduce evidence that the potential alternative perpetrator may have been angry at D.H. due to a prior shooting; that he lived near the site of the murder; and that he disappeared after the murder and no one could find him. The trial court refused to allow the evidence to be admitted, concluding that Woodard had not introduced any evidence connecting the potential alternative perpetrator to the scene of the crime. In its instructions to the jury, the trial court instructed the jury that it need not consider the lesser included charge of second-degree murder if it found Woodard guilty of first-degree murder, contrary to the decision in State v. Prtine, 784 N.W.2d 303, 317 (Minn. 2010). Neither party objected to the instruction. The jury convicted Woodard on the first-degree murder charge, and he was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are (1) whether the trial court committed reversible error in refusing to admit appellant’s alternative-perpetrator evidence; and (2) whether the erroneous jury instruction affected appellant’s substantial rights. (Hennepin County)

In the Matter of Midway Pro Bowl Relocation Benefits Claim – Case No. A19-0237In this certiorari appeal, Midway Pro Bowl sought review of a January 18, 2019, order issued by an administrative law judge, which affirmed the City of Saint Paul’s denial of Midway’s claim for relocation benefits under the Minnesota Uniform Relocation Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 117.50–.56 (2018). On February 7, Midway filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Clerk of the Appellate Courts. The Clerk of the Appellate Courts issued a writ of certiorari directed to the City that same day. Midway served the petition and writ of certiorari on the City on February 9. Midway served the writ of certiorari on the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) on February 9.

The City filed a motion to discharge the writ of certiorari for lack of jurisdiction. The City argued that Midway failed to serve the petition for writ of certiorari on the OAH within the 30-day appeal period under the Minnesota Administrative Procedure Act (MAPA), Minn. Stat. §§ 14.63–.69 (2018), and the writ of certiorari was improperly directed to the City rather than the OAH. The court of appeals denied the motion to discharge the writ of certiorari.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are (1) whether the failure to serve the petition for writ of certiorari on the agency within the 30-day appeal period constitutes a jurisdictional defect under MAPA; and (2) whether the failure to obtain and serve a writ of certiorari directed to the agency within the appeal period constitutes a jurisdictional defect. (Office of Administrative Hearings)

Thursday, December 12, 2019
Nonoral: Kenneth Eugene Andersen, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A19-0745: In 2008, a jury found appellant Kenneth Andersen guilty of first-degree murder. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of release. This court affirmed the judgment of conviction. State v. Andersen, 784 N.W.2d 320 (Minn. 2010). Later in 2010, Andersen filed a petition for postconviction relief asserting claims of newly discovered evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court denied that petition without a hearing, and this court affirmed. Andersen v. State, 830 N.W.2d 1, 6 (Minn. 2013). In 2016, Andersen filed a second postconviction petition. The district court denied that petition without a hearing as well. On appeal, this court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the district court. Andersen v. State, 913 N.W.2d 417, 429 (Minn. 2018). The partial reversal and remand was based on the district court making credibility findings with respect to two affidavits without a hearing.

On remand, the district court held an evidentiary hearing and received testimony and exhibits from 13 witnesses. After briefing by the parties, the district court found the claims in the affidavits to be not credible. It denied the second postconviction petition.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues are (1) whether the district court’s credibility determinations are clearly erroneous; and (2) whether that court abused its discretion in denying appellant’s second postconviction petition. (Becker County)

Nonoral: Thomas J. Fox, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A19-1140:In 2013, a jury found appellant Thomas Fox guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of release. This court affirmed the judgment of conviction. State v. Fox, 886 N.W.2d 206, 210 (Minn. 2015). In 2016, Fox filed a petition for postconviction relief on multiple grounds. The district court denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing, and this court affirmed. Fox v. State, 913 N.W.2d 429, 436 (Minn. 2018). In 2019, Fox filed a second petition for postconviction relief asserting that he was denied effective representation by appellate counsel. The district court denied the second petition without a hearing as well, finding it was time-barred under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(a)(2) (2018), procedurally barred by State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (Minn. 1976), and failed on the merits.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issues are (1) whether Fox’s claims are time-barred; (2) whether Fox’s claims are Knaffla-barred; and (3) whether Fox’s claims set forth a sufficient basis to demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel. (Washington County)


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