In this certiorari appeal, relator county challenged a final order affirming the Department of Natural Resources’ approval of respondent mine operator’s wetland replacement plan. The Court of Appeals held that the authority of the Commissioner of Natural Resources, under Minn. Stat. § 103G.222, to approve wetlands replacement for activities requiring a permit to mine does not include the authority to approve the reservation of wetland credits for future use by a permit-to-mine applicant without deposit into the state wetlands bank. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A16-0363 In re Hibbing Taconite Mine & Stockpile Progression (Minn. Dep’t of Natural Res.)
Landlord & Tenant
In these consolidated appeals after separate court trials, appellant-tenants challenged the District Court’s denial of their rent-escrow actions under Minn. Stat. § 504B.161. The questions presented were: (1) whether a landlord breached the covenant of reasonable repair by requiring a residential tenant to cooperate with pest eradication efforts and (2) whether a landlord committed a per se breach of the covenant to ensure that a residential premises is fit for its intended use by electing one method of repair over the tenant’s preferred method. The Court of Appeals held that (1) Minn. Stat. § 504B.161, subd. 1(a)(2), imposing a covenant of reasonable repair upon the landlord of residential premises, does not extend to a tenant’s personal property; and (2) Minn. Stat. § 504B.161, subd. 1(a)(1), recognizing the covenant to ensure that a residential premises is fit for its intended use, does not impose a duty on a landlord to employ a tenant’s chosen method of pest eradication. Affirmed.
A16-0249, A16-0250 Rush v. Westwood Vill. P’ship (Benton County)
Child Support; Income
Appellant-mother challenged the District Court’s decision, in proceedings to establish child support, to impute income to respondent-father at 150 percent of the minimum wage under Minn. Stat. § 518A.32, rather than treating the court’s previous imputation of income to father in the dissolution proceeding, for the purpose of calculating spousal maintenance, as binding. The Court of Appeals noted that because the order established a child-support obligation where none existed, there was no need for the District Court to analyze whether there had been a substantial change in circumstances since the dissolution. The court held that the District Court properly concluded that the previous imputation of income was irrelevant and that there was no evidentiary basis for the court to rely on its earlier findings from the dissolution proceeding. Affirmed.
A16-0114 Stillwell v. Stillwell (Hennepin County)
Following the District Court’s adjudication of her children as children in need of protection or services (CHIPS), appellant argued that the District Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals conclude that the District Court correctly determined that it retained subject-matter jurisdiction over this CHIPS matter after the 90-day stay of adjudication expired. However, because the District Court did not adjudicate the children as CHIPS at a hearing within 90 days of the stay of adjudication, the CHIPS adjudication did not comply with Minn. R. Juv. Prot. P. 40.02. Reversed.
A16-1103 In re Welfare of Children of C.L.C. (Wabasha County)
Termination of Parental Rights; Reunification Efforts
On appeal from the termination of her parental rights, appellant mother argued that the District Court failed to make reasonable efforts to reunite her with her child. Noting that the county provided extensive services to appellant throughout her lengthy history with child protection, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court’s determination that the county made reasonable efforts to reunify appellant and the child was supported by clear and convincing evidence and did not constitute error. Affirmed.
A16-0996 In re Welfare of Child of D.C. (Ramsey County)
Appellant challenged the revocation of his driver’s license, arguing, inter alia, that his due-process rights were violated when he was advised by law enforcement that he could be criminally prosecuted if he refused to submit to a chemical test. The Court of Appeals noted that the advisory given to appellant was misleading because it misinformed him about the criminal consequences of refusing to take a blood test. The court held that, because the advisory was misleading, appellant’s right to due process was violated and the appropriate remedy was rescission of the revocation of his driver’s license. Reversed.
A16-0290 Hansen v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety (Faribault County)
On appeal from an order sustaining his driver’s-license revocation based on a failed breath test, appellant argued that (1) his procedural due-process rights were violated; (2) the field sobriety tests were warrantless searches and therefore illegal; (3) the breath test was obtained in violation of appellant’s Fourth Amendment rights; and (4) the test-refusal statute is unconstitutional and the implied-consent advisory therefore violated his substantive due-process rights and the doctrine of unconstitutional conditions. The Court of Appeals noted that appellant’s argument that field sobriety tests are searches that require a warrant was contrary to existing Minnesota law, and that a police officer may initiate a limited investigative seizure without a warrant if the officer has reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity. Appellant’s other arguments were likewise unavailing. Affirmed.
A16-0610 Lexvold v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety (Goodhue County)
Right to Counsel
The Commissioner of Public Safety revoked appellant’s driver’s license after he was arrested for driving while impaired and refused to submit to a breath test. Appellant petitioned for rescission of the revocation on the grounds, among others, that his limited right to consult with an attorney was not vindicated because he was allowed only four minutes in which to contact an attorney, that he did not refuse to submit to a breath test, and that, if he did refuse, his refusal was reasonable. The District Court denied the petition. The Court of Appeals concluded that because appellant ceased engaging in a good-faith and sincere effort to contact an attorney before the officer asked him to submit to a breath test, appellant could not satisfy the threshold issue for a challenge to the amount of time that he was given to consult with an attorney. Affirmed.
A16-0358 Henry v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety (Benton County)
In Forma Pauperis
Appellant challenged the District Court’s denial of his request to proceed in forma pauperis in seeking a harassment restraining order to prevent respondent retailer from enforcing a no-trespass notice against him. Appellant alleged that respondent failed to make reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act and retaliated against him. The Court of Appeals concluded that appellant could not establish facts sufficient to show that respondent’s conduct and intent were objectively unreasonable, nor did he have an objectively reasonable belief that enforcement of the trespass notice would have a substantial adverse effect on his safety, security, or privacy. Therefore, the District Court did not abuse its discretion when it found appellant’s action frivolous. Affirmed.
A16-0664 Rickmyer v. G4S Secure Solutions (USA), Inc. (Ramsey County)
Appellant-city argued that the District Court erred in denying its motion for summary judgment and concluding that the city was not entitled to statutory immunity under Minn. Stat. § 466.03. Respondent was injured during a volunteer holiday-decorating event and brought suit against city for negligence. The District Court concluded the city was not entitled to statutory immunity because there was no evidence that the city’s decision to engage in the holiday-decorating event was a planning-level decision to which statutory immunity extends. The Court of Appeals held that, without evidence showing that any planning-level factors were considered, it could not conclude that the city’s conduct was a planning-level decision entitling it to discretionary immunity. Affirmed.
A16-0782 Vang v. Forsman (St. Louis County)
Orders for Protection
Appellant challenged an order for protection granted to respondents, his former girlfriend and their two children, arguing that the District Court improperly relied on inadmissible hearsay evidence and that the evidence was insufficient to support the court’s findings. The Court of Appeals concluded that text-message threats toward the girlfriend and his threats made during his 911 call constitute sufficient evidence to support the District Court’s finding that appellant committed domestic abuse against the girlfriend, supporting the order as to her. However, the evidence was insufficient to support the issuance of an OFP on behalf of the children. Affirmed in part and reversed in part.
A16-0387 Martin v. Freundl (Blue Earth County)
In this preenforcement administrative rules challenge pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 14.44, petitioners challenged respondent Minnesota Plumbing Board’s adoption of a new uniform plumbing code. Petitioners argued that the board adopted a rule that must be invalidated for failure to comply with statutory rulemaking requirements because the board failed to include adequate information in the Statement of Need and Reasonableness (SONAR) and that the rules otherwise lacked a rational basis. The Court of Appeals concluded that any deficiencies in the SONAR did not require invalidation absent prejudice, and that the rules did not violate substantive due process. Rules declared valid.
A16-0335 Water in Motion, Inc. v. Minn. Dep’t of Labor & Indus. (Minn. Dep’t of Labor & Indus.)
Relator entered into a confidential settlement agreement with her former employer while she was receiving unemployment benefits. The Department of Employment and Economic Development determined that she was temporarily ineligible for benefits because she received a payment in connection with the settlement agreement. An unemployment law judge (ULJ) upheld the determination of ineligibility on the ground that the payment was subject to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. The Court of Appeals concluded that the ULJ did not err by determining that relator was temporarily ineligible for unemployment benefits because she received a settlement payment that was subject to FICA tax. Affirmed.
A16-0493 Campbell v. MVP Realty Advisors, LLC (Dep’t of Emp’t & Econ. Dev.)
A police officer used a handheld laser device and clocked appellant’s car at 70 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone. Appellant challenged the ticket in court and objected to the admission of the officer’s testimony of his speed. He argued that the officer’s external testing of the laser unit failed to verify its reliability because the officer’s testing proved only that the unit accurately measured distance, and speed depends on an accurate measure of both time and distance. The District Court overruled the objection and found appellant guilty. The Court of Appeals held that a police officer’s controlled testing of a handheld laser speed-measuring device to establish that it is accurately measuring distance to a stationary object satisfies the foundational external-test requirement of Minn. Stat. § 169.14, subd. 10(a), allowing the District Court to admit into evidence the officer’s testimony of the device’s speed readings. Affirmed.
A15-1984 State v. Olson (Sherburne County)
Appellant challenged his conviction of stalking under Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 2(4), which defines stalking as repeatedly making phone calls, sending text messages, or inducing a victim to make phone calls, whether or not conversation ensues. Appellant argued that this portion of the stalking statute was unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment. The Court of Appeals held that the statute was not unconstitutionally overbroad on its face or as applied. Affirmed.
A15-1645 State v. Hall (Lac Qui Parle County)
Appellant challenged his conviction for terroristic threats, arguing that his expressions of hope that a state trooper would be shot did not constitute threats for purposes of establishing that crime. The Court of Appeals held that statements expressing the mere hope that another person will be subject to a crime of violence, unaccompanied by additional statements or conduct demonstrating that future crimes of violence could follow, do not constitute threats for purposes of establishing the crime of terroristic threats. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A15-2072 State v. Olson (St. Louis County)
Defense of Another
Appellant challenged her fifth-degree-assault conviction and the victim’s award of restitution, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove that she was not acting in defense of her father and that she was not responsible for the victim’s injuries. The Court of Appeals concluded that, based on the record, the jury could have reasonably concluded that the state disproved either the first element of appellant’s defense-of-another theory, that she was the aggressor in the fight, or the fourth element, that she failed to take advantage of reasonable possibilities to retreat. Affirmed.
A15-1665 State v. Garner (Fillmore County)
Controlled Substance Sales
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Appellant challenged her conviction for aiding and abetting the sale of 50 kilograms or more of marijuana. The Court of Appeals concluded that evidence, including numerous text messages with the principal demanding $500,000 for all of the “business work” she had done, and over 200 pounds of marijuana that was found in her home, was sufficient to support her aiding and abetting conviction. Affirmed.
A16-0045 State v. Chung (Hennepin County)
Appellant challenged the denial of his petition for postconviction relief, arguing he was convicted twice of the same offense, and his constitutional rights were violated by the exclusion of evidence at trial. The Court of Appeals concluded that appellant’s argument had no merit because he was subject to only one prosecution, and he received a single adjudication, conviction, and sentence. Affirmed.
A16-0940 Okon v. State (Stearns County)
After a hit-and-run accident, appellant was charged with driving after cancellation, felony driving while impaired, and multiple counts of criminal vehicular operation . Appellant challenged: (1) the District Court’s denial of his pretrial motion to suppress blood-alcohol evidence; (2) the jury’s determination that he was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident; and (3) the District Court’s decision to sentence him on the DWI charge after also entering a conviction for an alcohol-related CVO offense. The Court of Appeals concluded that additional findings were necessary on whether appellant freely and voluntarily consented to the warrantless blood test and on whether exigent circumstances justified the warrantless blood test. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A15-1853 State v. Molina (Clay County)
In this challenge to his conviction of being an ineligible person in possession of a firearm, appellant argued that the District Court made prejudicial evidentiary errors at trial and abused its discretion by denying his mistrial motion. The court ruled that the evidence of BB guns found in a van was admissible because it corroborated a witness’s testimony and any prejudice could be minimized by providing the jury with a cautionary instruction. The Court of Appeals held that, because appellant’s trial strategy focused on attacking the witness’s credibility, and the discovery of the BB guns in the van corroborated her testimony that appellant had attempted to enlist her in selling a handgun, the BB-gun evidence was relevant. Affirmed.
A16-0235 State v. Palmer (Stearns County)
Adequate Factual Basis
Appellant appealed his conviction of theft of movable property, arguing that his guilty plea must be vacated because the factual basis for the plea was inadequate. The Court of Appeals concluded that appellant’s confession that retail stores suffered losses because of his actions and that he used a pair of scissors to steal items permitted an inference that appellant intended to commit a theft. Affirmed.
A16-0266 State v. Briseno (Hennepin County)
Adequate Factual Basis
Appellant argued that his Alford plea to first-degree criminal sexual conduct was invalid and must be withdrawn because the factual basis for the plea was insufficient, and appellant did not agree that there was sufficient evidence to convict him. The Court of Appeals noted that appellant’s stipulation that the contents of the criminal complaint outlined the state’s evidence allowed the District Court to consider the complaint in determining the accuracy of his Alford plea, and the Court concluded that the criminal complaint, when viewed as an outline of the state’s evidence, contained an adequate factual basis to support appellant’s plea. Affirmed.
A15-1953 State v. Ranniger (Waseca County)
Adequate Factual Basis
Appellant pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to a drug-possession charge and a charge of assaulting a peace officer. On appeal, he argued that his guilty pleas were invalid because they were not supported by proper factual bases. The Court of Appeals concluded that a proper factual basis exists for appellant’s plea to the drug-possession charge. However, evidence that some spit came out of appellant’s mouth and hit an officer did not provide a proper factual basis for appellant’s plea to assaulting a peace officer. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A15-1478 State v. Sabahot (Crow Wing County)
While serving his life-without-parole prison sentence for shooting his wife four times in the head in front of their three young children, appellant spent 30 days in segregated confinement for angrily confronting an education employee in the prison’s law library. Appellant filed a habeas corpus petition after his release from segregation, asserting that he was innocent of the offense, that the disorderly-conduct prison regulation violated his constitutional rights, and that the disciplinary procedure was unconstitutional. The District Court denied his petition, and appellant appealed. The Court of Appeals held that because appellant was no longer in segregated confinement and his discipline did not affect his length of incarceration, a writ of habeas corpus afforded him no meaningful relief. Affirmed.
A16-0462 Munt v. Smith (Washington County)
Appellant argued that the District Court erred when it admitted two of his prior burglary convictions for impeachment purposes and convicted him of both third-degree assault and felony fifth-degree assault. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court was well within its discretion in admitting these convictions for impeachment purposes. However, felony fifth-degree assault is a lesser included offense of third-degree assault. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A15-1732 State v. Ellingboe (Yellow Medicine County)
Appellant argued that the District Court committed reversible error by failing to instruct the jury on unanimity and by entering judgments of conviction for both violating a domestic abuse no-contact order and violating an order for protection. Appellant neither requested a specific unanimity instruction at trial nor objected to the jury instructions. The Court of Appeals held that there was no plain error because appellant never requested a specific unanimity instruction, and appellant offered a single defense to refute a single behavioral incident. Furthermore, both of appellant’s protective-order violation convictions were permissible. Affirmed.
A15-2014 State v. Ards (Ramsey County)
Appellant killed one man and wounded another in a shooting outside his home in 2004. In his fourth postconviction petition, appellant challenged his sentence for second-degree murder, arguing that the postconviction court erred by summarily denying his purported motion to correct his sentence and that the District Court relied on improper factors to depart upwardly from his presumptive sentence. The Court of Appeals held that appellant’s petition was barred as untimely and repetitive under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4, and Knaffla. Affirmed.
A16-0534 Brown v. State (Hennepin County)
Appellant argued that the state committed reversible error when the prosecutor asked him “were they lying” questions and used appellant’s responses during closing argument. The Court of Appeals held that the “were they lying” questions were made in error because appellant did not hold the state’s witnesses’ credibility in central focus. However, appellant did not object to the questions below, and the court concluded that any error did not affect appellant’s substantial rights. Affirmed.
A15-1924 State v. Maeyaert (Redwood County)
Appellant challenged his conviction of violating a domestic abuse no contact order on the grounds that the District Court erred by admitting relationship evidence. Appellant argued that evidence of his past convictions was not admissible as relationship evidence because a DANCO violation does not constitute “domestic conduct” as that term is defined in Minn. Stat. § 634.20. The Court of Appeals concluded that that evidence of appellant’s DANCO violation conviction could properly be considered “domestic conduct” within the meaning of the statute. Affirmed.
A15-1896 State v. Miamen (Ramsey County)
On appeal from a sentencing order, appellant challenged the District Court’s denial of his motion for a downward dispositional departure for his second-degree assault conviction. The Court of Appeals noted that the mere fact that a mitigating factor is present in a particular case does not obligate a District Court to depart or impose a shorter sentence or probation instead of a presumptive sentence, and concluded that the District Court properly exercised its discretion. Affirmed.
A16-0573 State v. Collins (Polk County)
Appellant challenged the District Court’s imposition of the presumptive guidelines prison sentence for his second-degree criminal-sexual-conduct conviction, arguing that he had no criminal history, had demonstrated remorse, and was particularly amenable to probation and should be granted a downward dispositional departure. The Court of Appeals concluded that this was not the rare case compelling reversal because the District Court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing. Affirmed.
A16-0890 State v. Johnson (Anoka County)
Appellant argued that the District Court erred by imposing a sentence when revoking probation for his fifth-degree controlled-substance crime conviction that was a dispositional departure from the presumptive sentence without impaneling a sentencing jury or accepting a waiver of a sentencing jury from appellant. The District Court combined the sentencing and revocation-of-probation processes, found that appellant was not amenable to probation, and sentenced him to an aggravated dispositional departure. The Court of Appeals noted that no jury found that appellant was not amenable to probation, and therefore, the court did not base its sentencing on facts decided by a jury. Reversed and remanded.
A16-0607 State v. Olson (St. Louis County)
Appellant argued that the District Court abused its discretion when it imposed an upward durational sentencing departure for his first-degree assault conviction based on Minn. Stat. § 244.10, subd. 5a(a)(3), particular cruelty, and particular vulnerability. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by imposing an upward durational departure because the statute does not require victim injury as an element of the current or prior felony conviction. Affirmed.
A15-2028 State v. Hicks (Hennepin County)
A jury found appellant guilty of test-refusal after police arrested him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Appellant challenged the conviction on the grounds that the test-refusal statute is unconstitutional and the state failed to produce sufficient evidence that he refused to take a breath test and that he was driving while intoxicated. The Court of Appeals concluded that the state produced sufficient evidence to support the verdict and Minnesota’s test-refusal statute is not unconstitutional as applied to a breath test. Affirmed.
A16-0002 State v. Capers (Ramsey County)
Appellant sought reversal his conviction of second-degree test refusal, arguing that the District Court committed instructional error and that the test-refusal statute is unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals held that it did not need to consider whether the probable-cause instruction was plainly erroneous, because it concluded that any error in the instruction did not affect appellant’s substantial rights. Furthermore, the test-refusal statute is not unconstitutional as applied to a breath test. Affirmed.
A16-0176 State v. Owens (Scott County)
On appeal from his conviction of gross-misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI), appellant argued that the District Court erred by concluding that (1) his initial contact with the arresting officer did not constitute a seizure and (2) even if it was a seizure, it was supported by the requisite reasonable articulable suspicion. Appellant was stopped after a limousine driver told an officer that appellant smelled of alcohol and slurred his speech. Moreover, in addition to the driver’s statements, an officer witnessed appellant driving around in a grassy field on private property near some old abandoned buildings. The Court of Appeals concluded that, based on the totality of the circumstances presented here, the officer’s seizure of appellant was justified by the requisite reasonable articulable suspicion. Affirmed.
A16-0615 State v. Zurek (Hennepin County)
Claim of Right
Appellant challenged his trespass convictions, arguing that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he lacked a claim of right to return to an area adjoining the complainant’s condominium or lacked a bona fide belief that he had a claim of right to be in that area when he returned to the property after being told to leave. The Court of Appeals concluded that the complainant had a sufficient possessory interest in the area around her unit to exclude others from that area. Affirmed.
A15-1502 State v. Halverson (Hennepin County)