Respondent-agency brought a civil-enforcement action against appellant-restaurant to enforce the governor’s emergency executive orders aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19. After appellant repeatedly flouted the executive orders, respondent revoked appellant’s food-and-beverage license. Appellant did not request a contested-case hearing to challenge the agency’s actions but continued operating its business without a license. The District Court issued a temporary injunction and contempt order enjoining appellant from operating a food-and-beverage establishment without a license and imposed sanctions for constructive civil contempt.
The Court of Appeals held that Minn. Stat. § 588.10, which restricts District Courts from imposing a fine greater than $250 per day on a person guilty of contempt, applies only to criminal contempt and therefore does not restrict the District Court when imposing a sanction for constructive civil contempt. Nor did the District Court abuse its discretion by imposing sanctions under its inherent authority based on the party’s failure to comply with the District Court’s orders. Affirmed.
A22-1292 State by Cunningham v. Iron Waffle Coffee Co. LLC (Ramsey County)
Child Custody; Guardians ad Litem
In this custody dispute, appellant argued that the District Court appointed the wrong guardian ad litem (GAL) for the child and should not have relied on the evidence the GAL submitted in making its parenting time order. Noting that appellant did not cite any statute or caselaw to support her argument that the District Court abused its discretion in its appointment of the GAL, the Court of Appeals concluded that appellant did not preserve her arguments for appeal. Affirmed.
A22-1240 Ensrud v. Eastman (Hennepin County)
Child Protection; Termination of Parental Rights
Appellant-father challenged a District Court order terminating his parental rights to his minor child.
The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by determining father was palpably unfit to be a party to the parent and child relationship and made adequate findings to address the statutory criteria. Affirmed.
A22-1342 In re Welfare of Child of R.L.S.-G. (Hennepin County)
Child Protection; Termination of Parental Rights
After less than one year of living with appellant-parents after court ordered reunification—and after about 18 additional reports of child neglect—the District Court returned the two children of appellants mother and father back into out of home placements. And respondent filed its third termination of parental rights petition against parents for these children. After trial, the District Court terminated the parental rights of mother and father. Parents appealed the termination on the basis that the District Court abused its discretion in ruling that the county made reasonable efforts to rehabilitate and reunify their family; statutory conditions existed to support the termination; and termination was in the best interests of the children. The Court of Appeals concluded that the county made reasonable efforts tailored to parents’ cognitive limitations, those reasonable efforts failed to correct the conditions that led to their children’s approximately four years of out of home placement, and the best interests of the children were best served by termination of parents’ rights. Affirmed.
A22-1348, A22-1361 In re Welfare of Children of R.T. (Hennepin County)
Parenting Time; Reduction
Appellant-father challenged an order of the District Court that established a parenting-time schedule for the summer of 2022 and that addressed enrollment of the parties’ minor child in 4-H. Appellant sought reversal and remand, arguing that the District Court’s decision regarding the parenting-time schedule was not supported by sufficient factual findings and that the District Court exhibited bias in its decision regarding the child’s 4-H enrollment. Noting that the summer parenting time schedule did not amount to a restriction of father’s parenting time, despite the fact that it slightly reduced father’s parenting time from the prior summers, the Court of Appeals found no abuse of discretion. Affirmed.
A22-0862 Froderman v. Lais (Nobles County)
On certiorari appeal from a decision by respondent-city to revoke relator’s cigarette/tobacco license, relator argued that the city acted arbitrarily and capriciously. Noting that the record reflected that the city council heard the steps taken by relator after the complaint was issued, and supported the conclusion that relator understood that penalties may be imposed for selling prohibited products, the Court of Appeals concluded that relator failed to show that the city’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. Affirmed.
A22-1406 In re Cigarette/Tobacco – Prod. Shop License Held by Bright Star Inc. (St. Paul City Council)
Appellant challenged the District Court’s determination that respondent attorney general properly withheld three emails following appellant’s data request under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Noting that the attorney general affirmatively joined a multistate coalition with other state attorneys general to engage in litigation related to climate change and entered into a common-interest agreement regarding that work, the Court of Appeals concluded that the emails were active civil investigative data, and thus the emails were not public. Affirmed.
A22-0466 Energy Policy Advocates v. Ellison (Ramsey County)
Defendant challenged his contempt sentence, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by summarily imposing a 180-day sentence without making findings to support the sentence. Noting that defendant uttered well over a dozen obscenities and directly insulted the court, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court’s imposition of a 180-day sentence in response to defendant’s contemptuous behavior was not an abuse of discretion. Affirmed.
A22-1727 State v. Oberton (Hennepin County)
Criminal Sexual Conduct
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Defendant’s former stepdaughter reported to police that defendant repeatedly sexually abused her when she was between eight and sixteen years old. A jury found defendant guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct after hearing from the stepdaughter and other witnesses. The District Court sentenced defendant to 144 months in prison. Defendant argued that the state failed to prove him guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and that the District Court abused its discretion by denying his request for a dispositional sentencing departure. The Court of Appeals concluded that the victim’s testimony was sufficient to support his conviction and the District Court did not abuse its discretion by sentencing defendant to the presumptive term of incarceration under the sentencing guidelines. Affirmed.
A22-0596 State v. McCall (Hennepin County)
Petitioner challenged the denial of his petition for postconviction relief from his convictions for controlled substance crimes, arguing that the postconviction court abused its discretion in determining that his petition was untimely and procedurally barred and that he was not entitled to relief on the merits. Petitioner asserted that the state withheld evidence showing that the deputy had run petitioner’s license plate twice prior to the time the deputy testified he first ran petitioner’s license plate. Noting that the deputy had a reasonable basis to stop petitioner even in the absence of any facts involving the vehicle license-plate light, the Court of Appeals concluded that there was no reasonable probability that the outcome of the District Court’s decision on petitioner’s motion to suppress would have been different had such license-plate evidence been disclosed, and thus petitioner failed to establish a Brady violation. Affirmed.
A22-1385 Roybal v. State (Cass County)
Defendant challenged his conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving penetration or sexual contact with a person under 13. Defendant argued he was entitled to a new trial because the District Court abused its discretion by admitting expert witness testimony and receiving a video recording of the complainant’s forensic interview into evidence. Noting that the District Court had ample support for its determination that an expert’s forensic interview of the victim used the CornerHouse method and conformed with established procedure, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not plainly err in receiving the testimony of the three experts on any of the three grounds raised by defendant. Affirmed.
A22-0747 State v. Saldana (Cottonwood County)
Financial Card Fraud
Sufficiency of the Evidence
A jury found defendant guilty of financial transaction card fraud after hearing testimony and receiving evidence of defendant tendering a stranger’s stolen debit card at three establishments within about an hour after the card’s theft. Defendant maintained that the trial evidence was insufficient to prove that he knew that the cardholder did not consent to his using the debit card. The Court of Appeals concluded that defendant’s proffered hypothesis of innocence was unreasonable. Affirmed.
A22-0907 State v. Villebrun (Becker County)
In this direct appeal from judgments of conviction for felony interference with a transit operator and gross-misdemeanor fourth-degree assault, defendant challenged the admission of identification evidence at his trial. First, defendant argued that the District Court erred by admitting evidence that the victim identified him as the assailant during a show-up identification procedure—which the District Court later found to be impermissibly suggestive—because the identification was unreliable. Second, defendant argued that the District Court erred by permitting the victim to make an in-court identification because the identification was tainted by the show-up identification. Noting that the victim had an opportunity to observe his assailant at the time of the crime, he was paying attention, his descriptions were generally accurate, the victim was confident, and the time between the assault and the identification was short, the Court of Appeals concluded that the show-up identification was independently reliable despite the impermissibly suggestive procedure and that the District Court therefore did not abuse its discretion by admitting either the show-up identification or the in-court identification. Affirmed.
A22-0535 State v. Kaneakua (Hennepin County)
Defendant challenged his sentences for first-degree possession of a controlled substance and driving while impaired (DWI), arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by denying his requests for (1) funding to obtain a transcript from a separate sentencing proceeding and (2) a downward dispositional departure. Noting that the sentencing decision in a different case would not bind the sentencing court here, the Court of Appeals concluded that the transcript was not necessary, and thus defendant was not entitled to transcript funds. Furthermore, there was no abuse of discretion in sentencing. Affirmed.
A22-1092 State v. Mrozek (Benton County)
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
In this direct appeal from the final judgment of conviction for five counts of criminal sexual conduct and appeal from the denial of a postconviction petition without a hearing, defendant argued he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Defendant argued, inter alia, that his trial counsel should have requested an interpreter for the trial and provided ineffective assistance by failing to move for judgment of acquittal. Noting that defendant did not specifically state what aspects of the trial or defendant’s testimony would have been different if an interpreter was used during the trial and that defendant did not challenge the sufficiency of the state’s evidence in this appeal, the Court of Appeals concluded that defendant failed to establish prejudice for the alleged misconduct. Affirmed.
A22-0146 State v. Mendoza (Anoka County)
Defendant was convicted of three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct following a jury trial. He challenged his convictions and sentence, arguing, inter alia, that the prosecutor committed unobjected-to misconduct. The Court of Appeals concluded that, even if portions of the prosecutor’s closing argument did cross the line and improperly appealed to the passions and prejudices of the jury, any misconduct did not substantially affect the outcome of his case or implicate the fairness and integrity of the proceedings, as the challenged statements comprise one paragraph of a 19-page closing argument. Affirmed.
A21-1567 State v. Alonzo (Redwood County)
In this direct appeal from his conviction for second-degree criminal sexual conduct, defendant challenged his sentence for the following two reasons: (1) the District Court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a downward dispositional departure; and (2) defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel at his sentencing hearing. Noting that defendant’s prior record involved multiple serious offenses, the Court of Appeals concluded that there was no abuse of discretion in the denial of defendant’s departure request, and that defendant did not establish that the alleged ineffective assistance of counsel resulted in prejudice. Affirmed.
A22-0833 State v. Cantu (Dakota County)
In this direct appeal from judgments of conviction for one count of first-degree drug possession and six counts of possession of child pornography, defendant argued the District Court (1) refused to exercise its sentencing discretion when it denied his motion for a mitigated downward dispositional departure, and (2) erred by entering convictions for five of his six possession of child pornography offenses. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion or fail to exercise its discretion when it denied defendant’s motion for a mitigated downward dispositional departure for the controlled-substance crime. However, defendant’s multiple convictions violated Minn. Stat. § 609.04. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A22-0915 State v. Smith (Hennepin County)
On appeal from his conviction for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, defendant argued the District Court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a downward dispositional departure from the presumptive prison sentence. Noting that the District Court carefully evaluated the reasons for and against departure when concluding that defendant was not particularly amenable to individualized treatment in a probationary setting, the Court of Appeals found no abuse of discretion. Affirmed.
A22-0608 State v. Schmidt (Stearns County)
In this direct appeal from the judgment of conviction for first-degree assault, defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion by denying her motion for a downward dispositional departure. The Court of Appeals concluded that this was not the rare case that required reversal of a presumptive sentence. Affirmed.
A22-0838 State v. Weidell (Ramsey County)