In this second appeal related to an appraisal award, appellant-insureds argued that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to grant respondent-insurer’s motion to deposit the judgment amount into court during the pendency of the first appeal. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court’s order granting the post-judgment motion to deposit the appraisal award was appealable under rule 103.03(g) and the District Court had jurisdiction to consider insurer’s motion while the first appeal was pending. Affirmed.
Child Custody; Modification
Appellant and respondent are the parents of two children who are now ten and eight years old. When the children were younger, appellant and respondent stipulated to joint legal custody and joint physical custody and to a parenting-time schedule. Appellant later moved to modify custody and parenting time and for a finding that respondent was in contempt of court. The District Court denied appellant’s motions. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err by denying appellant’s motions, that the District Court did not err by denying appellant’s motion for conduct-based attorney fees, and that appellant was not entitled to a new trial. Affirmed.
Respondent, a county, hired appellant, a general contractor, to improve a ditch. Appellant brought breach-of-contract and nonpayment claims against respondent, which counterclaimed for breach of contract and negligence and brought a cross-claim against respondent surety. Following a jury trial and posttrial motions, appellant claimed that the District Court erred in awarding interest at the contractual 6% instead of the statutory 18% and in offsetting the jury’s award to respondent against its award to appellant before calculating interest and that it abused its discretion in awarding attorney fees to both respondent and respondent surety. The Court of Appeals concluded that there was no error of law or abuse of discretion in the District Court’s refusal to make, sua sponte, a finding of bad faith and use that finding as a basis for awarding 18% interest to appellant. Affirmed.
Pro se appellant appealed the dismissal of her multiple claims against respondent psychologist arising out of his conduct during an independent psychological examination. Appellant alleged that respondent’s actions during the psychological examination—including laughing at her, physically intimidating her, and yelling at her—retraumatized her. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not err in its analysis, and dismissal of appellant’s statutory and common-law claims was warranted. Affirmed.
This appeal arose from a District Court order admitting a copy of decedent’s will to probate following a bench trial. Appellant, decedent’s sister, contended that the District Court erred by finding that the will was not revoked. Noting that testimony from decedent’s estate-planning attorney and conservator established that decedent never expressed a desire to change his will despite multiple meetings with them about his estate plan, and that the only evidence supporting revocation was appellant’s own testimony about her conversations with decedent, the Court of Appeals concluded that the will was not revoked. Affirmed.
Child and Adult Care Food Program
In this certiorari appeal, relator, operator of an afterschool care center, challenged the denial and recovery of reimbursements under the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The Court of Appeals deferred to the Department of Education’s reasonable interpretation of “meals” and concluded that the Department’s claims were not barred by equitable estoppel, and that relator failed to show that the Department’s denial-and-recovery decision was arbitrary, capricious, or based on insufficient findings as to a three month period. However, a fourth month was not supported by the record. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Married tenants in common owning farmland executed identical, mutually irrevocable wills each bequeathing the drafter’s interest in the land to a trust benefiting their children and grandchildren and granting one of the children the option to lease the land. After one spouse died and the other sought to lease the land to the designated child at an allegedly lower rental rate than the rate designated in the decedent’s will, the trustee brought a trust action, in part asking the District Court to authorize her to appoint a manager to make all decisions concerning the land. The District Court granted the trustee’s petition. The surviving spouse appealed, arguing that the District Court exceeded its trust-action jurisdiction by allowing the trustee to appoint a land manager with authority over the surviving spouse’s individual interest, which is not trust property, and that joint land management is neither legally nor factually supported. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court had subject-matter jurisdiction, as the District Court’s order afforded the property manager the authority only “to manage the property described in” the trust. But the Court modified the order because the District Court authorized the manager to have seemingly limitless power to “manage the property” described in the trust, including to “negotiat[e] the lease of the Farmland,” when the manager’s power may not exceed the trustee’s authority over the trust’s interest. Affirmed as modified.
Available for Employment
Relator challenged an unemployment-law judge’s (ULJ) order, which found her ineligible to receive unemployment benefits because she was (1) not available to accept suitable employment and (2) not actively seeking suitable employment. Noting that relator had reduced her hours and used intermittent leave to take time off work because she needed to take care of her daughter, the Court of Appeals concluded that the record supported the ULJ’s determination that relator’s actions, or lack thereof, showed she was not ready, willing, and able to accept suitable employment. Affirmed.
In this appeal from the denial of his request to receive unemployment benefits, relator argued that an unemployment law judge (ULJ) erred in determining that relator was discharged because of employment misconduct. Relator also challenged the ULJ’s decision not to hold an additional hearing to consider his request for reconsideration. Noting that the record supported the findings that relator was informed of the expectation that he work his scheduled shift, the Court of Appeals concluded that substantial evidence supported the ULJ’s findings and that the ULJ did not abuse its discretion in denying an additional hearing. Affirmed.
Civil Order Opinions
Parenting Time; Modification
Appellant mother challenged a District Court’s ruling on a motion modifying parenting time in father’s favor. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court failed to consider the totality of the circumstances or the Christensen factors when it determined whether father’s motion to modify parenting time proposed a de facto change in physical custody. However, there was no support for mother’s argument that the District Court judge demonstrated impermissible bias in favor of the custody investigator. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
In this challenge to the purchase price and options to purchase regarding the partition of property quitclaimed to four siblings, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court’s determination that respondent owed appellant a certain amount in exchange for her interest in the property was consistent with the law and not an abuse of discretion. Affirmed.
Criminal Sexual Conduct
Defendant challenged his conviction of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that the state presented insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his sexual contact with the alleged victim was nonconsensual. Noting the victim’s statements that she was uncomfortable with the situation, and that the statutory definition of consent requires words or overt actions, not passivity or inactivity, the Court of Appeals concluded that the state presented sufficient evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant engaged in nonconsensual sexual contact with the victim. Affirmed.
In this direct appeal from the judgments of conviction for felony domestic assault and threats of violence, appellant argued that he was entitled to a new trial because the District Court plainly erred by admitting character evidence. Noting that defendant did not challenge the evidence at trial, and that defendant did not explain how the evidence was not otherwise admissible under Minn. Stat. § 634.20, the Court of Appeals concluded that any error in admitting the challenged evidence did not affect defendant’s substantial rights. Affirmed.
Prior Consistent Statements
Defendant challenged his conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that the District Court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence the victim’s forensic interview as a prior consistent statement. Defendant claimed that the victim’s forensic interview was not consistent with her trial testimony because the victim ended her direct examination by denying the sexual assault occurred in the summer of 2019. The Court of Appeals concluded that, despite conflicting testimony regarding whether defendant penetrated her during the charged timeframe, the victim’s trial testimony was reasonably consistent with her forensic interview, and the District Court acted within its discretion by admitting the forensic interview. Affirmed.
Appellant juvenile challenged the District Court’s denial of two motions to suppress evidence and his resulting adjudication of delinquency for the offense of aiding and abetting first-degree aggravated robbery. Appellant contended that the District Court erred by denying his motion to suppress a witness’s pretrial identification. The Court of Appeals held that failure to use a double-blind procedure does not automatically render a resulting identification unnecessarily suggestive, and concluded that the procedure here, where the officer showed the victim photos of each suspect, one at a time, and asked her if any of the individuals looked familiar, was not unnecessarily suggestive. Affirmed.
Interference with Privacy
In this direct appeal of his conviction for interference with the privacy of a minor by surreptitiously installing or using a recording device “through the window or any other aperture of a house,” Minn. Stat. § 609.746, subd. 1(b)(2), defendant disputed the sufficiency of the evidence presented against him. Given the holding in State v. McReynolds, 973 N.W.2d 314 (Minn. 2022)—which reversed a conviction under the same statute after interpreting the plain language to not prohibit the use of “a recording device inside the same room as the target”—the Court of Appeals concluded that the evidence presented in this case was likewise insufficient to establish the elements of the charged offense. Reversed.
Defendant argued in this direct appeal from a conviction of second-degree unintentional murder that (1) the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant did not act in self-defense and (2) the District Court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a downward durational departure. Noting that defendant began the incident by repeatedly throwing water at the victim, provoking him, and repeatedly pursuing him, that defendant was also the first to present a weapon by trying to mace the victim while pursuing him, and that the fact that defendant told the victim she had a knife did not constitute a withdrawal from the conflict, the Court of Appeals concluded that defendant was the initial aggressor and did not revive her right to act in self-defense. Furthermore, there was no abuse of discretion in sentencing. Affirmed.
This was a direct appeal from defendant’s judgment of conviction for fourth-degree assault of a correctional officer. The court stayed the appeal; defendant petitioned for postconviction relief and received an evidentiary hearing. The District Court denied the petition. Defendant challenged the District Court’s decision to deny his request to withdraw his guilty plea because, he argued, the plea process was coercive. Noting that a threat to prosecute a criminal defendant fully if they do not plead guilty is constitutional, and that the record showed that defendant weighed his options, voluntarily entered into a plea agreement, and received the benefit of that agreement, the Court of Appeals concluded that the record supported the District Court’s determination that appellant’s plea was voluntary. Affirmed.
Need for Confinement
Defendant challenged the District Court’s revocation of his probation for first-degree assault, arguing the District Court erred because it did not adequately find that the need for confinement outweighed the policies favoring continued probation and because the record did not support such a conclusion. The Court of Appeals concluded that the record supported the District Court’s finding that it would unduly depreciate the seriousness of defendant’s violations of failing to turn himself in, absconding to another state and failing to keep in contact with his probation officer, to not revoke probation. Affirmed.
Defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a downward dispositional departure from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines because he was particularly amenable to probation. He also argued that the District Court erred by convicting him of two first-degree driving-while-impaired offenses arising out of the same behavioral incident. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court acted within its wide sentencing discretion, but erred by entering multiple convictions for offenses arising out of the same behavioral incident. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Defendant challenged the District Court’s denial of his request for a downward durational departure on his sentence for first-degree possession of a controlled substance. The Court of Appeals concluded that this was not a rare case in which it would reverse the District Court’s imposition of a presumptive sentence. Affirmed.
After pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter when his punch to the victim resulted in the victim’s death from a traumatic brain injury, defendant appealed from the District Court’s restitution order of over half a million dollars. He argued that the District Court abused its discretion in ordering $556,121.39 to be paid to the victim’s health-benefits company because the state did not establish that the company’s economic losses were a direct result of his conduct and because the District Court did not expressly consider his ability to pay restitution. Further, he contended that the restitution order was punitive, not rehabilitative, and should be vacated. The Court of Appeals concluded that the victim’s medical bills were a direct result of defendant’s conduct, the District Court expressly addressed his ability to pay, and the amount was not punitive. Affirmed.
Single Behavioral Incident
Defendant, who pleaded guilty to a felony violation of a domestic-abuse no-contact order (DANCO) and third-degree possession of methamphetamine, challenged his sentence for violating the DANCO order, arguing that it was impermissible under Minn. Stat. § 609.035. The Court of Appeals held that defendant’s desire to use methamphetamine with the victim was not a single “criminal” objective as a matter of law, and thus the offenses did not occur in a single behavioral incident. Affirmed.
In this direct appeal from a conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm, appellant argued that the District Court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained during a vehicle search. Noting that officers observed the vehicle leaving a known “problem property” that the officers were familiar with based on past arrests involving narcotics and stolen vehicles and that the officers observed the passengers moving around inside in a manner that suggested the passengers were concealing contraband or were about to flee as well as marijuana in plain view, the Court of Appeals concluded that the officers had sufficient probable cause to search the vehicle.
Criminal Order Opinions
Certification as Adults
Appellant juvenile challenged a District Court order certifying him as an adult in a prosecution for two counts of attempted second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court’s findings regarding the dispositional options available for appellant were inadequate to enable review of the District Court’s ultimate determination that public-safety factors five and six favored certification. Reversed and remanded.