Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Recent News
Home / eadvantage / Supreme Court Digest: Dec. 21, 2022
The Supreme Court Chamber in the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul. (Staff photo: Kevin Featherly)

Supreme Court Digest: Dec. 21, 2022

Civil

 

Workers’ Compensation

Occupational Diseases

Respondent was employed as a deputy sheriff for relator county. In September 2019, respondent was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by a licensed psychologist. The day after he received the diagnosis, respondent informed his supervisors at the county of his diagnosis and was placed on leave. The county filed a First Report of Injury and denied primary liability for respondent’s PTSD. A subsequent psychological evaluation requested by the county resulted in a diagnosis of major depressive disorder but not PTSD. The compensation judge ruled that respondent was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, finding that the County’s medical expert was more persuasive than respondent’s. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) reversed, holding that under Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15(e), employees in certain occupations (including deputy sheriffs) are entitled to a presumption that PTSD is an occupational disease if they present a diagnosis of PTSD, regardless of whether their employer offers a competing diagnosis. The WCCA held that respondent was entitled to the benefit of the presumption that he had a compensable occupational disease and that the County failed to rebut the presumption.

The Supreme Court held that (1) under Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15(e), an employee who works in one of the designated occupations and who had not been previously diagnosed with PTSD is presumptively entitled to workers’ compensation benefits upon presenting a diagnosis of PTSD by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist, which the employer can rebut by presenting “substantial factors”; and (2) the WCCA did not err by finding that a former deputy sheriff was presumptively entitled to workers’ compensation benefits after presenting a diagnosis of PTSD and that the deputy’s employer did not rebut the presumption. Affirmed.

A22-0090 Juntunen v. Carlton County (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)

 

 

Criminal

 

Expert Testimony

Novel Science

Defendant appealed his convictions for first-degree premeditated murder, attempted first-degree premeditated murder, and kidnapping. Defendant argued that the District Court improperly admitted expert testimony and evidence about cell-site location information (CSLI) without holding a hearing to determine that the evidence was generally accepted in the relevant scientific community and had foundational reliability. He also challenged the fact that he and codefendant’s cases were tried together. Finally, he asserted that the District Court erroneously denied his request for an additional peremptory challenge.

The Supreme Court held that (1) the District Court did not err in admitting the State’s CSLI evidence without holding a hearing on general acceptance in the relevant scientific community because the CSLI evidence is not novel, and even if the District Court’s failure to hold a hearing on foundational reliability was erroneous, the error was harmless because trial testimony established that the CSLI evidence had foundational reliability in this case; (2) defendant and his codefendant did not present antagonistic defenses, thus the District Court did not err by joining their cases for trial, by denying defendant’s motion to sever before trial, or by failing to sever defendant’s and his codefendant’s cases during trial; and (3) defendant suffered no prejudice from the denial of a peremptory challenge during alternate juror selection when the alternate jurors did not participate in the verdict. Affirmed.

A21-1310 State v. Berry (Hennepin County)

 

 

Joinder

Prejudice

Defendant appealed his convictions for first-degree premeditated murder, attempted first-degree murder, and kidnapping. Defendant argued that the District Court erred by joining his and his codefendant’s cases for trial and by denying subsequent, midtrial severance motions. Defendant also argued that the State committed prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments by improperly belittling and disparaging his defense and defense counsel. Finally, defendant asserted six claims in his pro se supplemental brief.

The Supreme Court held that (1) the District Court did not err in joining defendant’s and his codefendant’s cases for trial; (2) the prosecutor did not commit prosecutorial misconduct in closing argument; and (3) defendant’s pro se claims lacked merit. Affirmed.

A21-1309 State v. Davis (Hennepin County)


Leave a Reply