Appellant is the father of a young child. Appellant sought a hearing before a human-services judge to challenge county’s determination that his child has not been sexually abused. Appellant commenced this proceeding in the District Court pursuant to a statute authorizing judicial review of a decision of the commissioner of human services. The District Court ruled that appellant was not entitled to a hearing before a human-services judge.
The Court of Appeals held that a person commencing a proceeding pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 256.045, subd. 7, must serve the notice of appeal on the commissioner of human services and “any adverse party of record.” If the person commencing the proceeding does not serve the notice of appeal on each adverse party of record, the District Court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the proceeding. Vacated.
Appellant applied to respondent city for a conditional use permit to construct a nearly 45-foot-tall home and two garages totaling about 2,000 square feet. The city failed within 60 days to approve the application, deny the application, or notify appellant in writing of its intent to extend the application-consideration period. Appellant petitioned the District Court seeking an alternative writ of mandamus for the court to order the city to grant appellant’s application and award mandamus damages. Appellant based the petition on its position that its application had become automatically approved under Minn. Stat. § 15.99, subd. 2(a), by virtue of the city’s failure to act on it within the 60-day statutory period. The District Court issued an alternative writ, directing the city to show cause. After filing its answer, the city approved appellant’s application. The District Court therefore dismissed appellant’s petition as moot. Appellant argued on appeal that the District Court erred by failing to award mandamus damages despite having granted appellant’s petition for an alternative writ and that its damages claim was not rendered moot by the city’s decision to approve appellant’s application.
The Court of Appeals held that an alternative writ of mandamus cannot form the basis for awarding mandamus damages under Minn. Stat. § 586.09, and that appellant was not entitled to damages. Affirmed.
Orders for Protection
Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 6a, a District Court may extend relief granted in an existing order for protection (OFP) or may grant a subsequent OFP if a prior OFP has expired. The standard for granting this relief is different from the standard for granting an initial OFP. In this case, no OFP had been issued against appellant. The District Court, however, treated a domestic abuse no contact order (DANCO) issued against appellant as an OFP and, based on the standard in subd. 6a(b), granted an OFP against him.
The Court of Appeals concluded that a DANCO is not an OFP for purposes of issuing a subsequent OFP pursuant to § 518B.01, subd. 6a. Reversed.
Pro se inmate-appellant challenged the dismissal of his complaint against corrections officers alleging an equal-protection violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Because the complaint fails to state a viable claim for relief. Noting that the complaint contained allegations of one isolated instance of purported differential treatment, which was insufficient as a matter of law to sustain a claim for relief, the Court of Appeals concluded that appellant failed to state a viable claim for relief under § 1983. Affirmed.
Child Protection; CHIPS
Appellant-mother challenged the District Court’s order adjudicating her child in need of protection or services (CHIPS) and a subsequent order denying her motion for a new trial. Appellant argued that the District Court (1) erred as a matter of law and violated her due-process rights when it relied on appellant’s noncompliance with a voluntary case plan as evidence in support of the CHIPS adjudication, (2) violated her due-process rights when it failed to conduct the CHIPS trial within the timelines provided in the Minnesota Rules of Juvenile Protection Procedure, (3) erred by excluding testimony from one of appellant’s witnesses, and (4) abused its discretion by determining that child was in need of protection or services under three statutory grounds. The Court of Appeals found no prejudicial error by the District Court. Affirmed.
Child Protection; Termination of Parental Rights
In this appeal following the termination of their parental rights, appellants challenged the District Court’s determinations that statutory bases for termination existed, termination was in the best interests of the child, and the county provided reasonable efforts to reunify the family. Noting that the record supported the District Court’s factual findings regarding father’s ability and willingness to comply with the duties of a parent and child relationship, the Court of Appeals found no abuse of discretion in the termination of parental rights. Affirmed.
Child Protection; Termination of Parental Rights
Appellant-father challenged the District Court’s decision to terminate his parental rights to his seven-year-old child following a court trial. Father argued that the District Court erred by finding that clear and convincing evidence established that he abandoned the child, that he was palpably unfit to parent the child, and that termination of his parental rights served the child’s best interests. The Court of Appeals concluded that substantial evidence in the record supported the District Court’s factual findings, the District Court addressed the statutory criteria for terminating parental rights, and clear and convincing evidence supported at least one statutory ground for termination of father’s parental rights. Affirmed.
Paid Time Off
Appellant, the executive director of respondent advocacy group, sent an email to the chair of the board of directors, stating that he intended to resign his position effective in just over a week. He then started a new full-time job on that day as executive director of a different community action partnership agency. After respondent declined to pay appellant the balance of his accumulated paid time off (PTO), appellant initiated this suit alleging, as relevant to this appeal, breach of contract and a violation of Minn. Stat. § 181.14 of the Minnesota Payment of Wages Act (PWA). The District Court granted summary judgment to respondent on appellant’s claims. The Court of Appeals concluded that appellant had no contractual right to a payout of accrued PTO and Minn. Stat. § 181.14 provides no independent right to such a payment. Affirmed.
In this appeal from the District Court’s summary-judgment decision in a quiet-title action, appellants challenged the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to respondent, assignee of mortgagee. Appellants contended that the District Court erred when it concluded that the undisputed facts demonstrated that creditor appellant failed to redeem a foreclosed property, had no legal interest in that property, and was not entitled to equitable relief. Noting that, even if appellants believed that the sheriff’s certificate of sale reflected a sale price of $4,600 rather than the true sale prices of $44,600, as appellants alleged, they would not have had a right to redeem based on that amount, as the law dictated they tender the amount for which the property was actually sold, the Court of Appeals concluded that the undisputed facts showed that appellant failed to properly redeem or preserve its right to perfect redemption of the property during the redemption period.
Pro se appellant, former student and employee, challenged the District Court’s denial of his motion to amend his complaint and the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of respondent university in appellant’s action alleging violations of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA). Noting that university’s failure to involve information technology personnel did not create a genuine issue of material fact regarding the completeness of its response to appellant’s request, the Court of Appeals concluded that there was no genuine issue of material fact regarding whether university violated the MGDPA. Affirmed.
Orders for Protection
Appellant challenged the District Court’s order dismissing his petition for an order for protection (OFP) against respondent on behalf of himself and the parties’ minor daughter. Appellant argued that the District Court erred: (1) in its interpretation of the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act, Minn. Stat. § 518B.01; (2) in its determination that appellant failed to meet his burden of establishing domestic abuse under Minn. Stat. § 518B.01; and (3) dismissing the petition for an OFP. Noting that the Domestic Abuse Act specifically defined “domestic abuse,” the Court of Appeals declined to apply in this context the definition of “physical abuse” from a statute relating to reporting the maltreatment of minors. Furthermore, the District Court did not err when it determined that the alleged OFP violation was not domestic abuse. Affirmed.
Orders for Protection
Appellant-father appealed the District Court’s grant, after a contested hearing, of an order for protection (OFP) that limited father’s contact with his three minor children. Father argued that the District Court abused its discretion by allowing two child-protection social workers to testify at the hearing because their testimony violated the statutory privilege for communications with a social worker, and because they relayed the children’s inadmissible hearsay statements. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court prejudicially erred when it admitted the children’s hearsay statements through the social workers’ testimony. Reversed.
Appellants challenged the dismissal of their property-damage claims arising from water and/or sewage backup into their homes following a pipe rupture. Appellants argued the District Court erred by dismissing the action with prejudice after granting respondent construction company’s motions in limine. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by granting respondent’s motion in limine to limit appellants’ damage claims to only those that could be proven at trial and to prevent appellants’ undisclosed damage experts from testifying at trial. But the dismissal with prejudice was not warranted as the record was not devoid of evidence supporting appellants’ damages claims. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Return of Seized Property
Appellants challenged the dismissal of their civil complaint seeking, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 626.21, the return of evidence obtained during an allegedly illegal search by respondent Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the suppression of such evidence in actions brought by the DNR and respondent soil and water conservation district or other future proceedings. Noting that appellant’s counsel conceded that he did not have a good-faith basis to maintain that any soil or other tangible thing had been removed from the property and retained by any respondent, the Court of Appeals concluded that appellant’s request for return of the soil samples was moot. Furthermore, appellant’s claim that he was entitled to prospective suppression of evidence in any future regulatory actions and any court actions was not ripe. Affirmed.
Pro se relator worked stocking shelves for seven years before his employer discharged him. Relator sought review of an unemployment-law judge’s (ULJ) decision that the employer discharged relator for employment misconduct, and therefore, relator was not eligible for unemployment benefits. Relator argued that (1) the ULJ’s factual findings were clearly erroneous, (2) the ULJ should have obtained and considered video evidence discussed during the hearing, and (3) the interpreter provided inadequate translation services. Noting that relator’s argument essentially asked the court to reweigh the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses, the Court of Appeals concluded that the record evidence supported the ULJ’s factual findings. Furthermore, relator raised the second and third issues for the first time on appeal. Affirmed.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
A jury found defendant guilty of second-degree arson. Defendant argued, inter alia, that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. Noting that defendant had been making statements that he believed he could make money by burning houses, that data derived from his ankle monitor showed that he was present at the house late at night when the fire likely started, the Court of Appeals concluded that that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Furthermore, the District Court did not err by admitting evidence of location data derived from defendant’s ankle monitor. Affirmed.
Helpful to Jury
Defendant challenged his conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by admitting expert testimony about the typicality of and reasons why children delay reporting sexual abuse. Defendant contended this testimony did not help the jury and amounted to vouching for the credibility of the victim. Noting that the challenged expert testimony discussed that child abuse victims often delay reporting abuse and worry about a parent’s response if the child reports abuse and explained that child abuse victims often give limited facts when they first report abuse, and that most jurors do not understand the frequency of delay or the typicality of those reasons among child abuse victims, the Court of Appeals concluded the District Court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the challenged testimony. Affirmed.
Prior Consistent Statements
Defendant challenged his conviction for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence the victim’s recorded interview with a police officer under the prior-consistent-statement and residual exceptions to the hearsay rule. Noting that the interview presented evidence that differed from the victim’s trial testimony and added new information, and that the District Court’s evidentiary ruling permitted the entire statement to the officer to come before the jury, the Court of Appeals concluded that, because the victim’s statements in the recorded police interview were not consistent with her trial testimony or provided new information, the District Court plainly erred by admitting this interview into evidence. However, given the eyewitness testimony, the Court found that defendant did not establish prejudice, as the record contained ample evidence that defendant sexually assaulted the victim. Affirmed.
In this appeal from final judgments of conviction for four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition, defendant argued that he was entitled to a new trial because the District Court abused its discretion by refusing to allow him to impeach a prosecution witness with prior convictions. The Court of Appeals concluded that the endpoint of the ten-year period for a nondefendant witness should not be the date of the defendant’s alleged offense but rather should be the date of the nondefendant witness’s testimony or of the trial, and that there was no abuse of discretion here. Affirmed.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Conflict of Interest
Petitioner challenged the denial of his postconviction petition, arguing that he was entitled to a new plea-withdrawal hearing under the fair and just standard with conflict-free counsel. Noting that counsel emphasized disagreement with petitioner’s withdrawal request to withdraw the plea to third-degree criminal sexual conduct, going so far as to expressly question the merits of the request, the Court of Appeals concluded that counsel’s comments prior to sentencing required the District Court to determine whether an impermissible conflict existed before addressing the merits of the plea-withdrawal motion. Reversed and remanded.
Defendant challenged the denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to being an ineligible person in possession of a firearm, arguing that he did not admit at the plea hearing that he knew that his 1995 conviction of a crime in Colorado would be a crime of violence in Minnesota that rendered him ineligible to possess a firearm. Noting that defendant did not argue that he did not know he was a felon, only that he did not admit to the District Court that he knew he was a felon, the Court of Appeals concluded that defendant did not show that his guilty plea was inaccurate. Affirmed.
Receiving Stolen Property
In this direct appeal, defendant challenged his convictions of unlawful possession of a firearm and of receiving stolen property. He argued that the evidence was not sufficient to prove he was in constructive possession of the firearm or that he knew or had reason to know the firearm was stolen. The Court of Appeals concluded that, although defendant was ineligible to possess a firearm and could not obtain one through legitimate means, this fact alone was not sufficient to rule out an alternate hypothesis that defendant was not aware of the theft of the handgun and did not know or have reason to know that the handgun had been stolen, and thus the evidence was insufficient to support defendant’s conviction for receiving stolen property. However, the evidence was thus sufficient to support defendant’s conviction of being an ineligible person in possession of a firearm. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Right to Confrontation
In this appeal from the final judgment of conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, defendant argued that the District Court violated his constitutional rights to confrontation and to present a complete defense by denying his motion to introduce evidence of the immigration status of the victim and her mother as a motive for fabricating allegations against him. Noting that nothing in the record suggested that the witnesses received—or sought to receive—any consideration for their testimony, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion by preventing defendant from cross-examining witnesses about their immigration status or in excluding expert testimony regarding the U visa process. Affirmed.
Right to Jury Trial
Defendant challenged his criminal-sexual-conduct conviction, arguing that his jury-trial waiver was invalid. Noting that defendant’s written waiver informed him of the appropriate elements, and that the District Court informed defendant of the elements in detail on the record, the Court of Appeals concluded that the jury-trial waiver was valid, as any misunderstanding about deciding a pretrial motion to dismiss versus a trial deciding guilt did not invalidate the waiver. Affirmed.
Defendant challenged his sentence for violating an order for protection (OFP), arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a downward dispositional departure because he was particularly amenable to probation. Noting that finding that defendant continued to violate court orders even after he achieved sobriety, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court acted within its discretion in imposing a guidelines sentence. Affirmed.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
In this appeal from a final judgment, defendant argued that his conviction of theft must be reversed because the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was the perpetrator. Noting that defendant’s appearance matched the distinctive facial features of the individual identified in video footage and a still photographs from a gas station drive-off, and that defendant’s pickup truck matched the truck depicted in the footage, the Court of Appeals concluded that the state proved defendant’s identity as the perpetrator beyond a reasonable doubt. Affirmed.