In this dispute between two trust beneficiaries and the attorneys who represented a contingent beneficiary, appellant-attorneys challenged the District Court’s award of sanctions against them and in favor of respondent/cross-appellant. The Court of Appeals determined that attorneys had an objectively reasonable basis for their claim that contingent beneficiary had statutory standing as a beneficiary under Minn. Stat. § 501C.0201 to assert a claim related to the administration of the trust, and thus reverse the District Court’s Rule 11 sanctions order against attorneys. Based on this determination, the Court rejected respondent/cross-appellant’s argument that the District Court should have awarded greater sanctions against appellants and affirmed the District Court’s denial of sanctions against attorneys’ client. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Breach of Contract
Following a bench trial and post-trial motions in this contract dispute, appellant, a manager of appliance recycling and replacement programs, appealed the District Court’s judgment in favor of respondent call-center operator. Appellant argued that the District Court erred by determining that (1) appellant, and not respondent, terminated the parties’ contract; (2) a 90-day termination provision did not govern respondent’s suspension of services; (3) appellant’s breach-of-contract claim and its defense to respondent’s breach-of-contract claim based on respondent’s routing of calls to its Canada call center failed, and (4) appellant was entitled to contract-based attorney fees following a post-trial process. By notice of related appeal, respondent argued that the District Court erred by denying respondent’s contract claim to recover a $40,000 credit that it had granted appellant. The Court of Appeals concluded, inter alia, that the District Court was not required by the law-of-the-case doctrine to find that respondent, not appellant, terminated the contract based on a previous appellate ruling, and the termination findings were based on trial testimony and were thus supported by the record. Affirmed.
Mental Illness; Discharge
On appeal from the commitment appeal panel’s (CAP’s) denial of his petition for discharge from his commitment as a person who has a mental illness and was dangerous to the public, appellant argued that the record did not support the CAP’s decision. Noting that appellant had never acknowledged having a mental illness or experiencing psychiatric symptoms, the Court of Appeals concluded that the evidence in the record reasonably supported the determination that appellant remained a danger to the community. Affirmed.
Pro se appellant challenged the District Court’s dismissal of his claim that employees of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program impermissibly deprived him of his personal electronic device. The Court of Appeals concluded that the Minnesota Tort Claims Act, Minn. Stat. § 3.736, deprived the courts of subject-matter jurisdiction over appellant’s claim. Affirmed.
In this appeal from the judgment following a bench trial, appellant-shareholder asserted that the District Court erred by (1) construing the parties’ agreements to eliminate his post-termination distribution rights; (2) ordering him to pay $40,249 for excess compensation and insurance; (3) rejecting three of his four shareholder-oppression theories and ordering inadequate relief; (4) declaring respondents to be the prevailing parties; and (5) declining to award appellant attorney fees. Appellant was an ophthalmologist who practiced with respondent medical practices. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err by interpreting the agreements to end appellant’s right to distributions on the date his employment terminated, in awarding excess compensation and insurance, or in its shareholder-oppression rulings, and that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in declaring respondents the prevailing parties or by not awarding appellant attorney fees. Affirmed.
Dissolution; Attorney Fees
Appellant and respondent were married for approximately 30 years before their marriage was dissolved pursuant to a mediated settlement agreement. After the mediation but before the entry of the judgment and decree, appellant filed a motion in which he sought to change the terms of the settlement. The District Court denied appellant’s motion and awarded respondent conduct-based attorney fees and costs in the amount of $6,510. Appellant challenged the award of attorney fees and costs. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err by finding that appellant unreasonably contributed to the length or expense of the proceeding, and the amount of attorney fees and costs was supported by the record. Affirmed.
Third Party; Parenting Time
In this third-party custody proceeding, appellant-father argued that the District Court should have applied the presumption in Minn. Stat. § 518.175, subd. 1(g), that would grant him at least 25% of the parenting time. Noting that father entered no evidence regarding his willingness to continue or discontinue the child’s education and religious studies, and that there were concerns about whether father’s house provided satisfactory and safe housing, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court’s findings were sufficient to support a rejection of the parenting-time presumption. Affirmed.
In this administrative appeal, relator—a provider of Personal Care Assistant (PCA) services—challenged the final decision of the commissioner of human services determining that relator committed recordkeeping abuses that resulted in improper reimbursements for care and ordering monetary recovery of overpaid funds. The Court of Appeals concluded that the commissioner has statutory authority to recover overpayments made due to documentation errors that constitute “abuse,” and that the commissioner did not err by determining that relator’s violations constituted abuse, noting that the undisputed facts showed that relator submitted repeated claims based on timesheets that were incomplete or incorrect. Affirmed.
False Reporting of a Crime
On direct appeal from two convictions of deprivation of parental custodial rights and one conviction for the false reporting of a crime, defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions for deprivation of parental custodial rights by concealment and false reporting of a crime and that the District Court abused its discretion by making certain evidentiary rulings.
The Court of Appeals held that, in a prosecution for the false reporting of a crime under Minn. Stat. § 609.505, subd. 1, venue is proper in both the county where a false report of a crime is made and the county where a law enforcement officer receives a false report of a crime. However, the state introduced insufficient evidence to sustain the deprivation-of-parental-custodial-rights-by-concealment conviction. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
In this appeal from convictions of theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing in a motor vehicle, and driving after revocation, appellant challenged the District Court’s determination that he was competent to stand trial. All of the testifying experts agreed on defendant’s Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) diagnosis and that defendant had cognitive limitations. Noting that two of the four testifying experts determined that defendant was competent to stand trial, the Court of Appeals held that the District Court’s conclusion that defendant’s limitations did not impair his ability to stand trial was amply supported by the record. Affirmed.
Right Against Self-Incrimination
Defendant challenged his stalking and assault convictions, arguing that the District Court violated his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when it ruled that if he testified about one of the charged offenses, the state was permitted to cross-examine him about the other charged crimes. Noting that evidence of the other charged offenses would be admissible relationship evidence, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by ruling on the parameters for cross-examination. Affirmed.
Criminal Sexual Conduct
Statute of Limitations
Defendant argued on direct appeal for reversal of his criminal-sexual-conduct convictions because (1) the statute of limitations had expired; (2) the state delayed charging him in violation of his due-process rights; and (3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Defendant argued that the 2001 police investigation of allegations against him regarding a bathroom incident triggered the statute of limitations for defendant’s 2020 charges because the 2001 allegations “put law enforcement on notice” that a crime occurred. Holding that general allegations of defendant’s potential sexual misconduct towards the victims did not constitute a report of “the offense” to law enforcement, the Court of Appeals conclude that the record reflected that the conduct underlying defendant’s current convictions was first reported to law enforcement in 2019 at the earliest, and the state charged defendant within three years of that report. Furthermore, the state did not delay bringing charges in violation of appellant’s due-process rights, and defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. Affirmed.
In this appeal from the District Court’s denial of his petition for postconviction relief, petitioner challenged his conviction of indecent exposure. Petitioner argued that (1) his conviction must be reversed because the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to prove the “place” element of the indecent-exposure offense, and (2) alternatively, he was entitled to a new trial because the District Court erroneously denied his motion for a mistrial after a state witness offered improper testimony. Noting evidence that defendant was standing naked in his backyard, that the house had no privacy fence, and that a neighbor saw defendant naked, the Court of Appeals concluded that the jury reasonably could have concluded that he was either in a public place or in a place where others were present, supporting his conviction. The Court also concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant’s motion for a mistrial. Affirmed.
Certification as Adults
On appeal from a pretrial order denying certification of a juvenile for adult prosecution, the State argued that the District Court clearly erred in its findings on three of the public-safety factors and abused its discretion by denying adult certification. Noting that this was a close and difficult question, and that the role as the appellate court was to correct errors, not to reweigh the evidence or substitute judgment, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not clearly err by finding that respondent met his burden of showing that extended juvenile jurisdiction (EJJ) served public safety. Affirmed.
Need for Confinement
Defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion by revoking his probation for first-degree controlled-substance sale. Defendant allegedly violated his probation by using methamphetamine and attempting to use a synthetic urine kit to circumvent his drug test. Noting that defendant’s statement that he relapsed because he was feeling stress after completing treatment showed that community programming failed, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by revoking defendant’s probation. Affirmed.
On direct appeal from her conviction of aiding and abetting attempted second-degree murder of an unborn child, defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion by denying her motion for a larger downward durational departure. Noting that the record showed that the District Court carefully considered all the information and testimony presented when sentencing defendant to 150 months in prison, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion when it denied defendant’s request for a larger downward durational departure. Affirmed.
Defendant challenged her sentence on two counts of first-degree sale of methamphetamine, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by (1) refusing to grant downward dispositional departures from the presumptive sentences, (2) declining to impose downward durational departures, and (3) imposing sentences in the middle of the presumptive range rather than at the bottom of the range. Noting that defendant had absconded from the treatment program and did not inform her probation officer, the Court of Appeals discerned no abuse of discretion in the District Court’s determination that defendant was not particularly amenable to probation and that a substantial and compelling reason for departure was not present. There was also no abuse of discretion in declining to impose downward durational departures or in imposing middle-of-the-box sentences. Affirmed.
Defendant was found guilty in a court trial of four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct based on evidence that he sexually assaulted his young daughter. Defendant argued that the District Court erroneously admitted Spreigl evidence that he had sexually assaulted two other daughters. The Court of Appeals concluded that defendant was not entitled to a new trial because, even if the Spreigl evidence was erroneously admitted, there was not a reasonable possibility that the evidence significantly affected the verdicts. Affirmed.
Reasonable Articulable Suspicion
Defendant challenged his conviction for driving after revocation of his driver’s license, arguing that the District Court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence from a traffic stop. Noting that the trooper’s testimony and the recording amply supported the District Court’s finding that the trooper was able to and did read the pickup’s license-plate number prior to initiating the traffic stop, the Court of Appeals concluded that law enforcement had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to support the stop. Affirmed.