Department of Natural Resources
In this declaratory-judgment action, petitioner challenged the validity of an expedited emergency rule adopted by respondent Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) temporarily prohibiting the movement of farmed white-tailed deer in Minnesota. Petitioner argued that (1) the rule exceeded the DNR’s statutory authority; (2) the DNR adopted the rule without compliance with statutory rulemaking procedures; and (3) the rule violated constitutional due process.
The Court of Appeals held that, under Minn. Stat. §§ 97A.045 and § 84.027, subd. 13, the commissioner of the DNR has the statutory authority to adopt an expedited emergency rule temporarily prohibiting the movement of farmed white-tailed deer in Minnesota to prevent the spread of disease in wild deer. Rule declared valid in part; petition dismissed in part.
Appellants paternal uncle and his fiancée challenged the District Court’s denial of appellants’ motion for permanent adoptive placement, asserting that the county’s selection of the foster parents was not unreasonable. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court properly concluded that the county’s denial of adoptive placement to appellants was not unreasonable and properly assessed the statutory factors. Affirmed.
Appellant challenged the denial of his petition for transfer, provisional discharge, or discharge from his indeterminate civil commitment to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program as a sexually dangerous person. Noting that the panel’s finding that a provisional discharge was not appropriate because appellant was not capable of making an acceptable adjustment to open society was supported by the record, the Court of Appeals concluded that the commitment appeal panel did not abuse its discretion by denying the petition without an evidentiary hearing. Affirmed.
In this dispute between neighbors, appellant challenged the summary-judgment dismissal of his defamation claims against respondents, arguing that the District Court erred by concluding that appellant’s claims had no merit and abused its discretion by denying appellant’s motion for leave to amend his complaint. Noting that, with respect to statements that neighbors felt physically threatened by appellant, the District Court concluded that the statement was substantially true and was supported with appellant’s own testimony that he had interactions with numerous individuals walking on a street, informed them that they were trespassing, threatened legal action against them for trespassing, and pursued legal claims for trespassing, the Court of Appeals discerned no error and no abuse of discretion in the District Court’s decisions. Affirmed.
Dissolution; Stipulated Judgments
In this family dispute, pro se appellant-husband challenged the District Court’s decisions granting respondent-wife’s motion to enforce various provisions of the stipulated judgment and decree dissolving the parties’ marriage and ordering the appointment of a parenting consultant. The Court of Appeals concluded that husband forfeited any challenge to the District Court’s decision granting wife’s motion and that, even if it would consider his arguments, they failed on the merits. Affirmed.
In this declaratory-judgment action under Minn. Stat. § 14.44, petitioners challenged the validity of Minn. R. 8210.2450, subp. 2 and 3, arguing that it conflicts with Minn. Stat. § 203B.121 such that petitioners cannot comply with both. The challenged rule provides guidelines for examination of absentee ballot envelopes by ballot board members. Petitioners contended that the challenged rule prohibits ballot board members from considering relevant evidence as required by the statute and prevents them from fulfilling their statutory duties. The Court of Appeals concluded that no conflict exists between the challenged rule and Minn. Stat. § 203B.121, and that the challenged rule was not invalid. Affirmed.
Harassment Restraining Orders
Appellant appealed the District Court’s denial of his request for a hearing on the ex parte harassment restraining order (HRO) issued to protect respondent. The only issue appellant raised on appeal was whether the District Court abused its discretion by denying his request for reconsideration after the District Court denied his request for a hearing. Noting that appellant waited nine months before following up, the Court of Appeals concluded that appellant failed to act with due diligence after learning of an alleged mistake by the court clerk. Affirmed.
Appellants wife and county challenged the District Court’s denial of wife’s petition to sell land she claimed her deceased husband (decedent) owned. The District Court determined that a quitclaim deed conveying the land from decedent’s children and their spouses to decedent was subject to an unfulfilled condition precedent. Noting that the deed declared an unconditional obligation but was silent regarding any condition precedent, and thus parol evidence could be admitted to prove or disprove that a condition precedent existed, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err by admitting parol evidence, and the District Court’s determination that an unfulfilled condition precedent existed was supported by the evidence. Affirmed
Rights of First Refusal
In this dispute over the enforceability of a right of first refusal agreement for real property following the conveyance of that property to the owner’s adult children through a transfer on death deed (TODD) and subsequent sale, appellant challenged the grant of summary judgment to respondent purchasers. Appellant argued that an exception in the right of first refusal agreement applied only to partial conveyances to the owner’s children, and the District Court misread the exception to include a conveyance of the entire property. The Court of Appeals concluded that the plain language of the agreement stated that the right of first refusal did not apply to any conveyance of the property to the owner’s children, and nothing in the agreement provides for the right of first refusal obligation to transfer to the children. Affirmed.
Available for Suitable Employment
Relator challenged the determination of an unemployment-law judge (ULJ) that he was ineligible for unemployment benefits. The Court of Appeals concluded that the record supported the ULJ’s findings that relator could not perform his suitable employment—plumbing work—within the 15-pound lifting restriction imposed by his doctors, and thus relator was not available for suitable employment during the approximately six-week period at issue. Affirmed.
Pro se relator challenged the decision of an unemployment law judge (ULJ) that relator was ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was discharged for the employment misconduct of failing to comply with respondent-employer’s COVID-19 vaccination policy. The Court of Appeals concluded that the vaccination policy was reasonable and that relator’s intentional violation of the vaccination policy constituted employment misconduct. Affirmed.
Relator appealed the unemployment law judge’s (ULJ) decision that he was ineligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). More specifically, relator contested the ULJ’s determination that the COVID-19 pandemic did not cause relator’s asserted change in employment. Noting that the ULJ did not believe relator testimony regarding his pre-pandemic income, the effectiveness of his pre-pandemic job-seeking efforts, his present inability to find work, and the stated cause of his present inability to find work, the Court of Appeals concluded that, because the ULJ’s analysis of causation was based on a credibility determination, it would defer to the ULJ. Affirmed.
Great Bodily Harm
A jury found defendant guilty of first-degree assault based on evidence that he attacked a woman with a knife, injuring her left hand and her face. Noting that the permanency of victim’s loss or impairment of the nerve in her index finger could be inferred from her testimony that she did not have a normal sense of touch and from the surgeon’s testimony that an adult who sustains a lacerated nerve can expect to regain only half of the nerve function, the Court of Appeals concluded that the evidence was sufficient to prove that the woman sustained great bodily harm, as required for assault in the first degree. Affirmed.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Defendant challenged his convictions of aiding and abetting first-degree controlled-substance possession and conspiracy to import a first-degree amount of a controlled substance, arguing that the circumstantial evidence did not support the jury’s verdicts on those charges. Noting that the evidence showed that defendant’s roommate planned to obtain a pound of methamphetamine and was ultimately stopped with that amount, that defendant helped plan the trip, helped set up the money, told another to accompany his roommate, and communicated with that person during the trip, the Court of Appeals concluded that the evidence of the planned trip to obtain a pound of methamphetamine and defendant’s extensive involvement and admissions rendered defendant’s theory of a rational basis other than guilt unreasonable. Affirmed.
Defendant challenged his conviction for second-degree driving while impaired (DWI), arguing that the use of a 2018 driver’s-license revocation to enhance the DWI offense violated his constitutional right to due process. Defendant argued that, because there was no judicial review of the 2018 revocation, and because he was incapable of requesting judicial review by reason of mental illness, the revocation could not be used. The Court of Appeals concluded that the record did not support defendant’s claim that he was not competent to seek judicial review of the 2018 revocation. Affirmed.
Appellant challenged a District Court order denying his petition to expunge a criminal record following acquittal, arguing that: (1) respondent-city failed to overcome the presumption favoring expungement by clear and convincing evidence under Minn. Stat. § 609A.03, subd. 5(b); (2) the District Court erred by misstating and misapplying the controlling expungement statute; and (3) the District Court erred by relying on documents that were not evidence. The Court of Appeals concluded that the city’s evidence showed a generalized concern for the public’s interests and did not explain how the expungement of appellant’s acquitted charges presented a particularized harm, and that therefore, the District Court abused its discretion by denying appellant’s expungement petition because city failed to meet its clear-and-convincing burden of proof. Reversed and remanded.
Extended Jurisdiction Juveniles
In this extended jurisdiction juvenile (EJJ) matter, appellant challenged the District Court’s disposition decision. Appellant challenged the decision ordering him to complete a long-term, residential placement at MCF-Red Wing for nine-to-twelve months rather than the shorter residential program. Specifically, appellant challenged the decision for the following two reasons: (1) the District Court’s written findings are insufficient to justify the necessity of the MCF-Red Wing program; and (2) the District Court’s order did not establish that MCF-Red Wing is in his best interest. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because the District Court adequately considered the factors set forth in the applicable statutes and rules, it did not abuse its discretion. Affirmed.
Need for Confinement
Defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion when it revoked his probation and executed his stayed sentences because the evidence did not establish that the need for confinement outweighed the policies favoring probation. Noting that repeated instances of noncompliance leading up to the revocation were detailed in probation-violation reports, sanctions orders from drug court, and drug court hearings, the Court of Appeals concluded that the evidence supported the District Court’s finding on the need for confinement. Affirmed.
Defendant challenged his conviction for offering a forged check, arguing that the prosecutor committed plain error during closing argument. Defendant argued that the prosecutor committed misconduct five times, by (1) saying defendant failed to produce evidence, (2) saying defendant concocted his story about the check letter at trial, (3) commenting on defendant’s credibility, (4) disparaging the defense, and (5) misstating the evidence. The Court of Appeals concluded that there was no misconduct, and that even if the prosecutor did commit misconduct, it did not alter the outcome of defendant’s case. Affirmed.
Defendant was convicted of a drive-by shooting after firing a bullet through the windshield of a police car. The District Court granted defendant’s motion for a downward dispositional departure and placed him on probation. Appellant State contended that the District Court should have sentenced defendant to a prison term instead of probation based on his criminal record. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its broad discretion by concluding that defendant was particularly amenable to probation. Affirmed.
On appeal from his conviction of conspiracy to commit first-degree controlled-substance crime, defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a downward durational departure. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its broad discretion by denying defendant’s motion for a downward durational departure. Affirmed.
Defendant was charged with eleven counts of criminal sexual conduct in three cases involving three different children. He pleaded guilty to two counts, and nine counts were dismissed. On appeal, he challenged the District Court’s imposition of a presumptive sentence for one of his two convictions. Noting that the facts underlying defendant’s conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct were extreme, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err in imposing the sentence. Affirmed.
Reasonable, Articulable Suspicion
Defendant challenged his conviction of gross-misdemeanor driving while impaired (DWI). He argued that the District Court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained during a traffic stop because the police officer who stopped him lacked reasonable suspicion. Noting that the officer heard ongoing “screaming” and “yelling” between a man and a woman coming from the vehicle of a man known to have a history of domestic violence, the Court of Appeals concluded that the circumstances provided ample basis for reasonably suspecting domestic violence and conducting a brief stop of the vehicle to investigate. Affirmed.
Unlawful Firearm Possession
Restoration of Rights
In this appeal following a conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm in Minnesota, defendant argued that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the conviction because the crime of violence preventing him from possessing firearms occurred in South Dakota and his civil right to possess firearms had been restored in South Dakota. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because defendant never petitioned for his firearm rights to be restored in Minnesota, the lifetime prohibition applied to him, and he was a person ineligible to possess a firearm under Minnesota law. Affirmed.
Appellant State challenged the District Court’s grant of defendant’s motion to dismiss the criminal charge filed against him for a second time. The state dismissed defendant’s original charge on the second day of trial because a witness became ill. After the state refiled the charge 70 days later, defendant moved to dismiss it for unreasonable delay. The District Court granted the motion and the state appealed. In an earlier appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded because the District Court did not conclude that the state’s delay prejudiced defendant. On remand to the District Court, defendant renewed his motion to dismiss, and the District Court concluded that defendant was prejudiced and granted the motion. Noting that defendant was subject to a no-contact order during the pendency of the case and witnesses’ memories of the underlying incident had faded in the intervening time, the Court of Appeals concluded that the record supported the District Court’s conclusion. Affirmed.