Child Custody; Domestic Abuse
Appellant challenged the District Court’s award of joint legal custody, arguing that the District Court erred by failing to apply the statutory rebuttable presumption against joint legal custody when there has been domestic abuse between parents. The Court of Appeals concluded that the record supported the District Court’s finding that domestic abuse had not occurred and, thus, there existed no rebuttable presumption against joint legal custody. Affirmed.
A22-1032 Marino v. Bahl (Hennepin County)
Child Custody; Modification
Appellant-mother and respondent-father share four children, although they never married. The children were in mother’s sole physical custody, subject to father’s parenting time, from birth until 2019 when father sought sole legal and physical custody. Father alleged that the children were endangered in mother’s care. After a contested hearing, the District Court awarded temporary sole physical custody of the children to father, joint legal custody to both parents, and parenting time to mother. And after an evidentiary hearing, the District Court issued an August 2021 order awarding permanent sole physical custody to father and permanent joint legal custody to both parents, but it reduced mother’s parenting time. Noting a guardian ad litem’s report listing open criminal cases against mother at the time of the evidentiary hearing, hundreds of pages of police reports involving domestic-violence issues at mother’s house, and testimony from school officials about the attendance and behavioral issues the children faced, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by modifying the custody order based on endangerment to give father full physical custody of children. Affirmed.
A22-0259 Salas v. Verdeja (In re Custody of J.A.V.) (Ramsey County)
Child Protection; Termination of Parental Rights
Appellant-father challenged a District Court order terminating his parental rights to his minor child and the District Court’s denial of his request to amend his transfer of custody petition. The Court of Appeals concluded that the record supported the District Court’s determinations that a statutory ground for termination existed, respondent-county made reasonable efforts to reunify the family, and termination of father’s parental rights was in the child’s best interests. And there was no error in the District Court’s refusal to allow father to amend his transfer of custody petition. Affirmed.
A22-1699 In re Welfare of Child of A.R.G. (Chisago County)
Parenting Time; Restrictions
Pro se mother appealed from a District Court’s order denying her motion for reunification therapy with child, arguing that the District Court (1) erred by relying on ex parte communications; (2) abused its discretion by denying her motion for reunification therapy; and (3) “terminated” her parental rights to child without due process. Noting that the denial of her request for reunification therapy did not constitute a “restriction” of parenting time within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 518.175, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by denying mother’s motion for reunification therapy. Affirmed.
A22-1389 Bedner v. Bedner (Hennepin County)
A Minnesota resident petitioned the District Court for the dissolution of his marriage to a Florida resident. The Florida resident moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. The District Court denied the motion on the ground that the Florida resident had the requisite minimum contacts with Minnesota. Noting that appellant owned real property in Minnesota and had visited the state twice, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err by denying the motion to dismiss and that the District Court did not err by denying appellant’s motion challenging venue and her motion seeking conduct-based attorney fees. Affirmed.
A22-0998 Jacobson v. Vukosavovic (Chisago County)
Spousal Maintenance; Remarriage
Appellant-mother challenged the District Court’s order terminating her spousal maintenance award upon her remarriage. Cross-appellant-father challenged the District Court’s above-guidelines child-support order and award of need-based attorney fees to mother. The Court of Appeals concluded that the parties did not expressly waive the right to terminate spousal maintenance upon remarriage, as the decree only waived the right to bring spousal maintenance modification motions and did not, as a whole, show an intent to waive statutory rights. Furthermore, the District Court did not abuse its discretion in awarding child support and attorney fees. Affirmed.
A22-1148 Floyd v. Floyd (Washington County)
Driver’s License Revocation
In this implied consent appeal, appellant argued that the District Court erred in denying reinstatement of her driver’s license for the following five reasons: (1) the underlying traffic stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion; (2) expansion of the stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion; (3) her arrest was not supported by probable cause; (4) the written statement in support of the warrant to obtain a sample of her blood or urine contained inaccuracies; and (5) she did not unreasonably refuse to take a test. Noting the undisputed factual finding that the officer observed appellant driving on a lane line, the officer’s testimony that appellant had constricted pupils and was confused about the speed limit and her location, and multiple indicia of intoxication, the Court of Appeals found no error by the District Court. Affirmed.
A22-1582 Maki v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety (Wright County)
Appellant challenged the District Court’s partial denial of his petition for a writ of mandamus to require respondent to issue him a transferee permit to purchase a firearm. The Court of Appeals held that Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(12), does not create a lifetime prohibition for a person who is convicted of two misdemeanor domestic assaults within a three-year period. Reversed; writ of mandamus issued.
A22-1138 Kilde v. Stahnke (Anoka County)
Harassment Restraining Orders
On two grounds appellant challenged the District Court’s grant of a harassment restraining order (HRO) against him: (1) his actions did not constitute harassment, and (2) the HRO violated his First Amendment right to free speech. After respondent’s son pleaded guilty to a criminal-sexual-conduct charge involving appellant’s daughter, appellant, who lived across the street from respondent, placed multiple signs aimed at respondent’s property. The Court of Appeals concluded that the record supported the District Court’s finding of harassment and the HRO did not violate the First Amendment. Affirmed.
A22-1492 Cambronne v. Chapp (Benton County)
Defendant appealed from a judgment of conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping, arguing that (1) there was insufficient evidence corroborating his accomplice’s testimony to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and (2) the District Court abused its discretion by imposing an upward durational sentencing departure. Noting that DNA evidence established that the accomplice’s DNA was present in the victim’s vaginal swab and that defendant’s DNA could not be excluded from the major mixture in the vaginal swab, the Court of Appeals concluded that the DNA evidence was sufficient to corroborate the accomplice’s testimony. Furthermore, there was no abuse of discretion in sentencing. Affirmed.
A22-0595 State v. Abdi (Steans County)
Fleeing the Police
Sufficiency of the Evidence
A jury found defendant guilty of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. Noting that defendant’s vehicle was identified by the officer based on its distinctive blue or purple damaged bumper and that the vehicle arrived at defendant’s residence shortly after the officer’s high-speed chase, the Court of Appeals concluded that the evidence was sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was the driver of the vehicle. Furthermore, the District Court did not err in instructing the jury on the elements of the offense. Affirmed.
A22-1166 State v. Bonin (Sherburne County)
Defendant appealed from her conviction for violating a harassment restraining order (HRO), arguing argued that the state could not prove defendant knew the HRO’s specific conditions or language when the HRO order had not been served. Noting that failure to serve the HRO alone does not show that defendant lacked the requisite knowledge, and that evidence showed defendant attended the HRO hearing, the Court of Appeals concluded that it would be unreasonable to infer that defendant believed her conduct fell within the HRO’s exceptions. However, the District Court erred when it imposed a two-year probationary term, because that term exceeded one year. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
A22-0905 State v. Zarate (Cottonwood County)
Aiding & Abetting
Defendant challenged his conviction for aiding and abetting second-degree murder, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. Noting evidence that defendant was in the regular contact with the murderer in the time leading up to, and following, the murder, and that, immediately before the murder, defendant drove off with the murderer and the victim, the Court of Appeals concluded that the circumstances proved by the state were consistent with defendant’s guilt and precluded any rational hypothesis inconsistent with his guilt. Affirmed.
A22-1155 State v. Iman (Olmsted County)
Petitioner argued that the postconviction court abused its discretion when it denied his petition for postconviction relief because he did not enter an accurate, voluntary, or intelligent plea to defeating a security interest by concealing property with an intent to defraud. Noting that the record therefore showed that, while petitioner initially claimed he did not understand the situation, he ultimately and unequivocally admitted to the intent-to-defraud element, the Court of Appeals concluded that the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion by determining that petitioner provided an accurate plea. Affirmed.
A22-1335 Culpepper v. State (Ramsey County)
Need for Confinement
Defendant was placed on probation after he pleaded guilty to a drug-related offense. The District Court later found that defendant committed several violations of the terms of his probation. Accordingly, the District Court revoked his probation and executed his prison sentence. Noting that defendant violated the terms of his probation within two months of his sentencing hearing and continued to commit violations after the District Court continued his probation, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by determining that the need for confinement outweighed the policies favoring probation. Affirmed.
A22-1324 State v. Perkins (Crow Wing County)
In this direct appeal, defendant argued that the District Court erred by admitting evidence of defendant’s prior domestic conduct against the victim as relationship evidence under Minn. Stat. § 634.20. The Court of Appeals concluded that evidence about defendant’s 2018 domestic assaults and DANCO violations had probative value because the evidence showed the nature of the victim and defendant’s relationship and was relevant to the victim’s credibility, and that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the challenged evidence. Affirmed.
A22-0695 State v. Schaefer-Bonovsky (Stearns County)
Right to Confrontation
Defendant challenged his convictions for second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and illegal possession of a firearm, arguing that the District Court violated his right to confrontation by admitting testimony and body worn camera footage of nontestifying witnesses’ out of court statements. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because the challenged statements identifying defendant as the shooter were made to the officers during an ongoing emergency, the statements were nontestimonial in nature, and thus, the District Court’s admission of the challenged statements did not violate defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights. Affirmed.
A22-0783 State v. Ortley (Hennepin County)
On appeal from his conviction of first-degree possession of a controlled substance, defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a downward dispositional departure from his presumptive prison sentence. The Court of Appeals concluded that this was not a rare case requiring reversal of the District Court’s refusal to depart. Affirmed.
A22-1310 State v. Koerner (Morrison County)
In this pretrial appeal, the State argued that the District Court erred by granting defendant’s motion to suppress her statements to a trooper as taken in violation of her constitutional rights. The state contended that the District Court erred by sustaining respondent’s objection to the state’s proffered evidence at the suppression hearings. Quoting State v. Pauli, the state urged that “the Minnesota Rules of Evidence do not apply with full force during suppression hearings.” 979 N.W.2d 39, 43 (Minn. 2022). The Court of Appeals concluded that Pauli does not require a District Court to admit all hearsay evidence offered by the state at a suppression hearing and the District Court’s decision to require the trooper’s testimony had ample support in caselaw. Affirmed.
A22-1554 State v. Klevgaard (Clay County)