In these consolidated certiorari appeals, relator challenged four decisions by respondent Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) related to relator’s participation in the Children and Adult Care Food Program. Three of the decisions denied relator’s claims for reimbursement under the food program, and one of the decisions terminated relator’s food-program agreement.
The Court of Appeals held that MDE may not rely on 2 C.F.R. § 200.339-.340 to terminate an institution’s participation in the Children and Adult Care Food Program without complying with the program-specific procedural requirements of 7 C.F.R. § 226.6(c)(3). But the Court was not persuaded by relator’s arguments that MDE’s claim-denial decisions were based on legal error, in violation of regulatory or constitutional notice requirements, unsupported by substantial evidence, or arbitrary or capricious. Affirmed in part and reversed in part.
Right to Vote
Appellant, a person subject to guardianship, challenged the District Court’s decision depriving appellant of the right to vote, arguing that provisions in the Minnesota Constitution and Minnesota statutes permitting this deprivation are unconstitutional and that the record did not support the decision. The Court of Appeals concluded that it lacked authority to alter a statute, and the record provided ample support for the decision. Affirmed.
Following the entry of a final judgment after the settlement of a personal-injury action against appellant as owner of the pickup truck involved in the accident, pro es appellant asks sought to vacate the judgment and remand to stay the settlement and allow appellant to “take over the litigation” from his insurance defense counsel, who had settled the case within the insurance-policy limits. Appellant argued that the District Court erred by (1) stating that appellant was required to use the District Court’s eFiling system; (2) failing to grant a continuance so appellant could respond to his insurer’s notice of intervention; and (3) denying appellant’s motion to stay the settlement of all claims against him. The Court of Appeals first concluded that the District Court erred in stating that appellant was “required” to use the eFiling system, but this error was harmless. Second, the District Court did not abuse its discretion by failing to grant a continuance because appellant did not claim, nor could the Court discern, any prejudice from allowing the insurer to intervene for the limited purpose of responding to appellant’s motion to stay the settlement. Third, the District Court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant’s motion to stay the settlement because appellant failed to show error or prejudice. Affirmed.
This appeal concerned a District Court’s judgment resolving matters in an intrafamily dispute between two siblings—appellant and respondent—over agricultural land inherited from their parents. Appellant challenged the District Court’s judgment in two ways. First, appellant challenged the District Court’s conclusion that it lacked authority to enforce a purported settlement agreement due to appellant’s then-pending appeal of an earlier judgment. Second, appellant challenged the District Court’s confirmation of the referees’ partition report allocating the farmland. Noting that many of the facts relating to the purported settlement agreement were not different from the then-pending consolidated appeal, the Court of Appeals concluded that the purported settlement agreement was not an independent, supplemental, or collateral matter with respect to the first appeal and thus the District Court lacked authority to confirm it. Furthermore, the District Court did not err in confirming the referees’ partition report. Affirmed.
In this trust dispute, pro se appellant-beneficiary argued that the District Court improperly (1) failed to consider her request for trustee removal, (2) approved the trustee’s accounts of the trust, and (3) considered the trustee’s petition for instruction and provided instruction outside the scope of the petition. Appellant also argued that the District Court abused its discretion by denying her continuances when she received deficient notice. Appellant additionally argued that the District Court improperly (1) failed to consider a codicil to the settlor’s will, (2) distributed trust property randomly, (3) established a separate trust for one of the beneficiaries and terminated the trust at issue, and (4) granted compensation and attorney fees from the trust to the trustee. The Court of Appeals reviewed the arguments and found no error warranting reversal. Affirmed.
Appellant-contractor appealed from the denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law after a jury trial on respondent-insurer’s negligence claim in a subrogation action to recover amounts paid in workers’ compensation benefits. Appellant-contractor argued it did not owe a duty of care to the injured worker and asserted respondent-insurer failed to carry its burden to prove the damages awarded were reasonable and necessary. The Court of Appeals concluded that a reasonable jury could conclude that appellant-contractor had constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and the damages awarded were not manifestly against the entire evidence. Affirmed.
Civil Order Opinions
Harassment Restraining Orders
In this appeal from the issuance of a harassing restraining order (HRO) against appellant, appellant argued, inter alia, that he was not given the opportunity to raise his arguments. Noting that the record indicated that appellant was represented by counsel at the hearing, that he testified, and that his attorney cross-examined respondent and presented a closing argument, the Court of Appeals concluded that appellant was not denied any of his rights during the HRO hearing. Affirmed.
Appellant-mother challenged the District Court’s denial of her application to change the name of her minor child. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court’s factual findings supported its conclusion that it was in the child’s best interests not to change her surname. Affirmed.
Orders for Protection
Appellant challenged the District Court’s dismissal of her petition for an order for protection (OFP) against respondent on behalf of their minor child. Appellant argued that the District Court erred by vacating an ex parte OFP and dismissing her OFP petition without a hearing. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court erred in functionally modifying the existing OFP by vacating it, as it did so without an application, without notice to the parties, and without a hearing. Reversed and remanded.
The State charged defendant with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct after authorities received a maltreatment report alleging that defendant had engaged in sexual intercourse with his children’s babysitter when she was 17 years old. Defendant’s therapist, a mandated reporter, submitted the maltreatment report to the county based on statements defendant made during a therapy session. The babysitter was 18 years old at the time the therapist made the report. Before trial, defendant moved to exclude his therapist’s maltreatment report and testimony on the basis that the statements he made to his therapist are protected by therapist-client privilege. The District Court determined that Minn. Stat. § 260E.06 required the therapist to submit a maltreatment report and that the therapist-client privilege did not apply to the required information contained in the report, and it therefore denied the motion. Defendant challenged the District Court’s denial of his motion, arguing that the mandated-reporter statute did not require a maltreatment report when the alleged victim was an adult at the time the disclosure is made to the mandated reporter. He also argued that the District Court abused its discretion by excluding two pieces of evidence that he offered to support his contention that sexual intercourse did not occur until after the babysitter turned 18 years old.
The Court of Appeals held that, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260E.06, subd. 1(a), a mandated reporter must submit a maltreatment report if the mandated reporter knows or has reason to believe that a child has been maltreated within the preceding three years regardless of whether the child has reached the age of majority before the time of the report. Affirmed.
The state appealed the District Court’s pretrial dismissal of two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for lack of probable cause. The Court of Appeals concluded that defendant’s two confessions were sufficient to establish probable cause. Reversed and remanded.
Defendant appealed from judgments of conviction for three driving-related counts: driving with a suspended license, driving without insurance, and driving with expired registration. Defendant argued that his convictions should be reversed and vacated because the statutes under which he was charged violated his constitutional right to travel. The Court of Appeals concluded that the suspended-license and expired-registration statutes were constitutional under binding precedent that allows states to impose licensing and registration requirements to preserve the health, safety, and comfort of persons on roadways, and the driving-without-insurance statute was constitutional under binding precedent holding that a mandatory insurance obligation under Minnesota’s No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act is not unconstitutional. Affirmed.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Defendant argued that the District Court erred by denying his petition for postconviction relief seeking to withdraw his guilty plea because defense counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and advise him of a prescribed-use defense to his first-degree driving-while-impaired (DWI) charge. Noting that the record showed that defendant never provided his trial counsel with information about an amphetamine prescription, the Court of Appeals concluded that defendant failed to show that his counsel’s performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. Affirmed.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Petitioner entered an Alford plea to attempted second-degree murder. He later filed a postconviction petition in which he alleged that his attorney provided him with ineffective assistance by not adequately investigating a voluntary-intoxication defense. The postconviction court denied the petition after conducting an evidentiary hearing. Noting that the attorney’s legal conclusion that the defense was not strong, the Court of Appeals concluded that the postconviction court did not err by rejecting petitioner’s claim on the ground that the attorney’s performance was not deficient. Affirmed.
Following his conviction for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, defendant challenged the denial of his motion for mistrial and petition for postconviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. During voir dire, a prospective juror referenced a suspected groping incident and tax evasion occurring at a tobacco shop owned by defendant. The District Court removed the juror for cause and denied defendant’s mistrial motion. Noting the attenuated and hearsay nature of the prospective juror’s comment, the substance of the curative instruction, and the affirmative agreement by the remaining jurors to follow the District Court’s curative instruction, the Court of Appeals concluded that the prospective juror’s objectionable statement had no effect on the outcome of the proceedings. Affirmed.
Defendant challenged his conviction of first-degree criminal damage to property, arguing that the District Court clearly erred by rejecting his mental-illness defense based on a finding that he knew his actions were wrong. The Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not clearly err by finding that neither the examining doctor’s report nor circumstantial evidence proved that defendant did not know his act of damaging the victim’s car was morally wrong. Affirmed.
Adequate Factual Basis
In this appeal from the final judgment, defendant argued that the District Court erred by denying his presentencing motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Defendant pleaded guilty to felony stalking after he sent the victim multiple threatening text messages in violation of a domestic-abuse no-contact order (DANCO). But he now argued that his guilty plea was inaccurate because the record did not contain explicit facts establishing the victim actually felt terrorized or feared bodily harm when she received the messages—a required element of felony stalking. The Court of Appeals concluded that, given defendant and the victim’s domestic history, the pattern of harassing behavior defendant engaged in, the extreme nature of the threats defendant made, and the fact that defendant knew these exact threats would cause the victim to fear bodily harm, it could reasonably infer that a factual basis for the third element of felony stalking was established. Affirmed.
On appeal from her conviction of first-degree criminal damage to property, defendant argued that the prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct by failing to prepare a witness to avoid testifying about evidence that the District Court had determined to be inadmissible. The error involved a single comment by a deputy related to defendant taking a bag at a casino without paying for it. The Court of Appeals found no misconduct warranting reversal, noting that defense counsel was able to address the error without bringing it to the attention of the jury and the state’s evidence was overwhelming. Affirmed.
Defendant sought review of judgments of conviction for first-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm and argued that a new trial was required. Defendant contended that the District Court abused its discretion by ruling that relationship evidence and impeachment evidence were admissible. Noting that the victim’s testimony about the prior assault provided context for her relationship with defendant, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in analyzing the probative value of the relationship evidence. Furthermore, the District Court did not abuse its discretion in the District Court’s balancing of the factors for admission of impeachment evidence. Affirmed.
Defendant challenged her conviction for deprivation of parental rights, arguing that the District Court erred in denying her motion to suppress evidence obtained during a search of her home because the warrant application lacked probable cause, included misrepresentations, and had omissions that voided the warrant. Noting that the anonymous tip was corroborated by other information in the affidavit, the Court of Appeals concluded that probable cause existed to support the search warrant. Additionally, the misrepresentations were not deliberate, reckless, or material to the probable-cause determination. Affirmed.
In this sentencing appeal, the State challenged the District Court’s decision granting defendant a downward dispositional departure from the presumptive prison sentence for fifth-degree controlled-substance possession. Noting that the District Court found that defendant was amenable—not particularly amenable—to probation, the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Court did not identify—and the record did not support—substantial and compelling reasons to depart from the presumptive guidelines sentence. Reversed and remanded.
Incident to Arrest
Defendant was convicted of first-degree possession of a controlled substance based on evidence recovered from a warrantless search of his vehicle. In a prior decision, the Court of Appeals reviewed the District Court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence and concluded that the District Court erred when it determined that the search was lawful under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement. The Court remanded the matter to the District Court to make additional findings and a determination as to whether the warrantless search was justified as a valid search incident to a lawful arrest. On remand, the District Court made additional findings and determined that the search of defendant’s vehicle was a valid search incident to defendant’s lawful arrest for driving while impaired (DWI). Defendant challenged that determination. Noting that the deputy could smell the odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle, Court of Appeals concluded that the totality of the facts and circumstances apparent at the time of defendant’s arrest reasonably warranted an objective belief that defendant was driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or a controlled substance. Affirmed.
Criminal Order Opinions
In this appeal from a final judgment of conviction for violating an order for protection (OFP), defendant challenged his sentence, arguing that the District Court erred in calculating his criminal-history score. The Court of Appeals concluded that it was error to include one and one-half criminal-history points for a 2002 third-degree controlled-substance conviction and sentence because that sentence was vacated on appeal. Reversed and remanded.