In this declaratory-judgment action, petitioner Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community challenged an administrative-law judge’s (ALJ) decision under Minn. Stat. § 14.381. The community argued the ALJ erred when it determined that respondent Minnesota Gambling Control Board had not adopted an invalid unpromulgated rule because the rule comported with the statute’s plain meaning. The board responds that (1) the community’s petition for declaratory relief was untimely; (2) the board was not enforcing an unpromulgated rule; and (3) even if the board was enforcing an unpromulgated rule, the rule was valid because it was exempt from rulemaking requirements.
The Court of Appeals held that (1) it exercises original jurisdiction over declaratory-judgment actions brought under Minn. Stat. § 14.44, even when the petition challenges an administrative-law judge’s decision under § 14.381, and such declaratory-judgment actions are not subject to a time limit; and (2) the Board’s unpromulgated rule interpreting Minn. Stat. § 349.12, subd. 12b(3), to allow it to approve electronic-pull tabs with open-all functionality was invalid and cannot be used as a basis for agency action. Reversed; rule declared invalid.
A22-0946 In re Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Cmty. (Office of Admin. Hearings)
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Scope of Agreement
In this appeal from the District Court’s order compelling arbitration and its subsequent order confirming the arbitration award arising out of a dispute between a unit owner and condominium association, appellant-owner argued that the District Court erred for the following two reasons: (1) appellant’s claims were beyond the scope of the arbitration clause in the parties’ prior settlement agreement; and (2) the arbitrator incorrectly interpreted the release language of the settlement agreement. The Court of Appeals concluded that appellant’s claims regarding whether the release language barred the current lawsuit arose out of and involved the terms of the settlement agreement, they were within the scope of the arbitration clause. Furthermore, the arbitrator did not exceed his authority. Affirmed.
A22-0864 Lynch v. Condos. of Buena Vista, Inc. (Olmsted County)
Pro se appellant challenged the summary-judgment dismissal of her claims arising out of respondent’s alleged tortious conversion of a dog. Appellant argued that she should have been allowed a trial on her claims. Noting that the dog was nearly 13 years old at the time the District Court considered the matter and had considerable health problems, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err in determining that appellant failed to show that the dog had more than a negligible market value, as no reasonable fact-finder could find the dog’s fair market value to be comparable to the adoption costs of healthy, pure-bred puppies. Affirmed.
A22-0381 Ek v. Massengill (Hennepin County)
Breach of Contract
Appellant property owner challenged the District Court’s factual finding that respondent properly completed contracted-for electrical work and the District Court’s award of attorney fees. Noting that the District Court believed respondent’s owner and did not believe appellant’s chief manager, and that it would defer to the District Court’s credibility determinations, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not clearly err when it found respondent properly completed the billed electrical work. Affirmed.
A22-1059 Accredited Elec. Solutions, LLC v. PinPoint Homes, LLC (Ramsey County)
Parenting Time; Modification
In this parenting-time dispute, appellant-father argued that the District Court: (1) erred by denying father’s motion to reunify with the child at the direction of father’s therapist; (2) abused its discretion by denying father’s alternative motion to establish parenting time; and (3) abused its discretion by modifying the process to retain a reunification therapy provider. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err by not permitting father’s therapist to control the reunification process, did not abuse its discretion in determining that the process served the child’s best interests, and that the District Court had reason to modify the process to retain a reunification therapy provider. Affirmed.
A22-0778 Anderson v. Gbeyetin (Hennepin County)
Landlord & Tenant
In this action to obtain a refund of rental payments under a commercial lease, appellant-tenant challenged the District Court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of landlord respondent. Appellant argued that this court should reverse the decision of the District Court for the following three reasons: (1) respondent breached the lease covenants when the emergency executive orders of the State of Minnesota prohibited appellant from using the premises for certain purposes; (2) the doctrines of impossibility and impracticability, the force majeure clauses in the contract, and the frustration-of-purpose doctrine excused appellant’s obligation to pay rent and justify return of the paid amounts; and (3) because of the provisions of the lease requiring respondent to pay interest on any late payments to appellant, respondent owes appellant interest on the late renovation contribution payment that respondent made to appellant pursuant to a subsequent agreement regarding renovation of the premises. Noting that the restriction on appellant’s use of the premises was not imposed by respondent or enforced by anyone acting on respondent’s authority or behalf, the Court of Appeals concluded that undisputed facts established that respondent did not breach the lease, none of appellant’s asserted arguments based on affirmative defenses applied in this case, and the interest provisions of the lease did not apply to the payments made pursuant to the subsequent renovation agreement.
A22-1057 Fitness Intl’l, LLC v. City Ctr. Ventures, LLC (Hennepin County)
Appellant-county challenged the District Court’s denial of its motion for summary judgment on respondent’s medical-negligence claims. The county argued that it was entitled to summary judgment on the grounds of common-law vicarious official immunity and statutory discretionary-function immunity. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because that respondent’s medical-negligence claims extended beyond his split-second interaction with a building security employee and the county offered no evidence that its allegedly negligent conduct was based on policy or planning-level decisions, the county did not demonstrate that it is entitled to official immunity as a matter of law. Affirmed.
A22-0607 Aguilar v. Am. Indian Cmty. Dev. Corp. (Hennepin County)
In this family dispute over real property, appellant argued that the District Court erred in determining a deed ambiguous regarding when certain lien interests attached and in granting reformation of the deed. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court was not required to make a threshold finding of a prima facie case before granting reformation. Affirmed.
A22-1188 Stueckrath v. Stueckrath (Lac Qui Parle County)
Sufficiency of the Evidence
As defendant entered her apartment building with her three-year-old son, she threw the contents of her coffee cup at one of her fellow residents. Defendant was charged with fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct. A jury found defendant guilty of both charges. On appeal from her convictions, defendant alleged, inter alia, that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions for fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct. The Court of Appeals concluded that sufficient evidence supported defendant’s convictions. Affirmed.
A21-1082 State v. Haynes (Hennepin County)
Sufficiency of the Evidence
In this direct appeal of her conviction for third-degree burglary of a camper, defendant disputed the sufficiency of the evidence presented against her. Noting that an entry of the camper occurred sometime in a three-day span, the camper had been subject to multiple recent break-ins, defendant’s fingerprint was taken from outside the camper, the Court of Appeals concluded that the circumstances proved did not exclude the possibility that defendant could have been present outside the camper without ever actually entering the camper. Reversed.
A22-0465 State v. Randberg (Clearwater County)
Defendant challenged his electronic-solicitation-of-a-child conviction, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by admitting evidence regarding the typical behavior of “johns” on an online dating site when they learn that they are chatting with a minor. Noting that the evidence was not intended to show that defendant fit the profile of a guilty person, but rather to show that it was possible for him to end the communication upon learning the age of the chatter, the Court of Appeals found no abuse of discretion. Affirmed.
A22-0392 State v. Sserwanja (Hennepin County)
Defendant challenged his conviction for second-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that (1) the District Court’s evidentiary rulings violated his constitutional rights to confrontation and to present a meaningful defense, and (2) the District Court erred in denying appellant’s motions to strike two prospective jurors for cause. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant’s motion for disclosure or in camera review of the victim’s therapy records, as the District Court acted well within its discretion by concluding that the request was an impermissible fishing expedition. Affirmed.
A22-0419 State v. Ontiveros-Silverio (Hennepin County)
Defendant pleaded guilty to and was convicted of first-degree sale of a controlled substance, unlawful drug possession, unlawful firearm possession, and two counts of felony theft. On appeal, and following a remand for postconviction proceedings, defendant argued that the postconviction court abused its discretion by summarily denying his request to withdraw his guilty pleas, contending that his pleas were unintelligent because he did not understand that pleading guilty could affect his ability to challenge the state’s evidence against him in a civil lawsuit. Noting that neither defendant’s attorneys nor the District Court were obligated to inform him that pleading guilty could impact his ability to challenge the state’s evidence against him in a civil proceeding, the Court of Appeals concluded that the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied defendant’s request to withdraw his guilty pleas. Affirmed.
A21-0941 State v. Graham (Mower & Olmsted Counties)
Newly Discovered Evidence
In this appeal from an order denying postconviction relief, petitioner argued that the postconviction court (1) abused its discretion by denying his petition for postconviction relief under the statutory time-bar exceptions found in Minn. Stat § 590.01, subd. 4; (2) abused its discretion by denying his request for an evidentiary hearing; and (3) erred by denying his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims. The Court of Appeals concluded that an affidavit from petitioner’s brother did not constitute newly discovered evidence as it was undisputed that petitioner knew at trial that his brother was in a room near the assault. Affirmed.
A22-0810 Cournoyer v. State (Beltrami County)
Defendant challenged his conviction for first-degree possession of a controlled substance, arguing that the District Court erred by denying his motion to suppress the drug evidence. Defendant also challenged his sentence, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a downward dispositional departure. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not clearly err in finding that defendant’s estranged wife was not acting as a government agent when she photographed defendant sleeping next to methamphetamine and sent the picture to law enforcement, despite the fact that law enforcement maintained regular contact with the wife and had earlier asked her to take pictures of drugs or paraphernalia and to send those pictures to law enforcement. Affirmed.
A22-1294 State v. Virnig (Morrison County)
Defendant challenged his robbery conviction, arguing that (1) a second warrant lacked probable cause; (2) the District Court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a mistrial after improper, prejudicial testimony had impacted the jury; and (3) a new trial should be granted because the prosecutor elicited hearsay evidence about defendant’s admission of guilt. When the police learned that a searched apartment had an assigned storage locker in the same building, they sought a second, updated warrant for the storage locker instead of trying to rely on the first warrant for the apartment. The Court of Appeals concluded that, based on the proximity of the apartment, the storage locker, and where the robbery occurred, the magistrate judge properly determined that the facts in the affidavit established probable cause that more evidence would be found in the storage locker. Furthermore, the District Court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant’s motion for a mistrial and the hearsay testimony did not warrant a new trial. Affirmed.
A22-0241 State v. Dawkins (Hennepin County)
In this appeal from the final judgment of conviction for second-degree burglary, defendant challenged his 38-month executed sentence. Defendant argued that the District Court erred by finding that he violated the terms of his plea agreement while on conditional release pending sentencing and abused its discretion by sentencing him to 38 months in prison. The Court of Appeals concluded that, under the agreement, defendant’s failure to remain law abiding was a sufficient basis by itself for the District Court to impose an executed sentence rather than probation. Affirmed.
A22-0619 State v. Tran (Wright County)
In this direct appeal from the District Court’s judgment of conviction for first-degree controlled-substance crime, defendant argued that the District Court erred in denying his pretrial motion to suppress evidence of illegal drugs found in his car following a dog sniff because the police officer lacked a reasonable, articulable suspicion to justify the expansion of the scope and duration of the traffic stop to conduct the dog sniff. Noting that a prior conviction for controlled-substance crime does not provide reasonable suspicion that an individual may be involved in drug-related criminal activity when the individual was stopped for equipment and moving violations and has engaged in some mildly suspicious behavior not specific to drug-related activity, the Court of Appeals concluded that the police officer did not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion to justify the expansion of the search in this case. Reversed.
A22-0459 State v. LaPointe (Crow Wing County)
Reasonable Articulable Suspicion
Defendant challenged his convictions of first-degree driving while impaired and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, arguing that the District Court erred by denying his pretrial motion to suppress. The Court of Appeals concluded that, even if the information in the officer’s computer database indicating that defendant’s license was canceled was correct, it did not necessarily follow that the resulting stop was invalid, and the state was not required to prove that the records were correct. Affirmed.
A22-0674 State v. Peterson (St. Louis County)
Sufficiency of the Evidence
In this direct appeal from a conviction for felony fifth-degree assault, defendant argued that (1) the state’s circumstantial evidence was insufficient to prove the element of venue, (2) the prosecution committed prosecutorial misconduct by misstating the evidence and the law, and (3) the District Court erred by admitting irrelevant and prejudicial evidence of defendant’s drug use and other dangerous behavior. Noting that there was no evidence from which to infer that the police officers left the county to respond to an address outside of their jurisdiction, and that the only reasonable hypothesis from the circumstances proved was that defendant’s offenses occurred within county, the Court of Appeals concluded that the state’s evidence was sufficient to prove venue, and neither the prosecutor’s conduct nor the District Court’s admission of evidence was plain error. Affirmed.
A22-0269 State v. Graf (Kandiyohi County)