EN BANC CALENDAR
SUMMARY OF ISSUES
Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office
Monday, October 4, 2010
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Ronald Hill, Appellant – Case No. A09‑1947: Appellant Ronald Hill was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree murder. On appeal from that conviction, Hill presents the following issues: (1) whether the prosecutor committed misconduct; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion when it allowed the State to offer Spreigl evidence; (3) whether the district court abused its discretion in allowing Hill to be impeached with a prior conviction; and (4) whether the cumulative effect of the claimed trial errors deprived Hill of a fair trial. (Ramsey County)
Bryan K. Martin, Employee v. Morrison Trucking, Inc., Respondent Travelers, Insurance Company, Relator, Special Compensation Fund, Respondent – Case No. A10-446: Bryan Martin worked as a truck driver for respondent Morrison Trucking, Inc., a Wisconsin company. Relator Travelers Insurance Company is one of several servicing carriers for the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Insurance Pool, which was created by Wisconsin law to provide insurance coverage under the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Act for employers who are unable to obtain insurance coverage in the voluntary market. Travelers issued Morrison Trucking a workers’ compensation insurance policy that excluded coverage for Minnesota benefits.
Martin was injured in a work-related accident in Winona, Minnesota. Martin filed a claim petition seeking Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits. Travelers denied that its policy afforded Morrison Trucking Minnesota workers’ compensation coverage. Respondent Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Special Claims Section paid Martin Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to a stipulation for settlement and filed a petition for reimbursement against Morrison Trucking for those benefits.
The compensation judge ruled that Morrison Trucking was uninsured for Minnesota workers’ compensation coverage and ordered Morrison Trucking to reimburse the Special Claims Section for all benefits it had paid Martin, plus a statutory penalty. The workers’ compensation court of appeals reversed the compensation judge’s findings and order. The supreme court vacated the workers’ compensation court of appeals’ decision and remanded for consideration of its decision in Carlson v. Allstate, Insurance Co., 749 N.W.2d 41 (Minn. 2008). Martin v. Morrison Trucking, Inc. (Martin I), 765 N.W.2d 639 (Minn. 2009). On remand, the workers’ compensation court of appeals reversed the compensation judge’s findings and order, vacated the penalty assessed against Morrison Trucking, and ordered Travelers to reimburse the Special Claims Section for the Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits it paid to Martin.
On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are raised: (1) whether the workers’ compensation court of appeals exceeded the scope of this court’s remand order in Martin I; (2) whether Wisconsin law requires Travelers to provide Morrison Trucking with Minnesota workers’ compensation coverage for Martin’s injuries; and (3) whether Travelers must reimburse the Special Claims Section for workers’ compensation benefits it paid Martin under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
In re the Marriage of: Loretta Marie Angell v. Gordon William Angell, Jr. – Case No. A09-349: Appellant Gordon Angell and respondent Loretta Angell were married in 1981. In 2004, one of the couple’s sons was killed while serving with the Marines in Iraq. The son had designated Loretta as his sole beneficiary; she received $250,000 in life insurance proceeds, death gratuity payments of $100,000, and another $150,000 from the federal government. In 2006, the couple separated, and Loretta petitioned for divorce. The district court issued a decree of marital dissolution, ruling that the $500,000 in life insurance and death benefits were Loretta’s non-marital property and awarding Gordon $150,000 of Loretta’s non-marital property under Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 2 (2008), which authorizes the district court to apportion up to half of one spouse’s non-marital property “to prevent undue hardship.” The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s conclusion that the life insurance and death benefits were Loretta’s non-marital property, but it reversed the district court’s award of $150,000 of Loretta’s non-marital property to Gordon. On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether federal anti-attachment statutes, 38 U.S.C. §§ 1970(g) and 5301(a)(1) (2000), which protect military death benefits paid to a beneficiary from attachment, levy, or seizure, preempt Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 2, to the extent it authorizes the district court to award the beneficiary’s spouse a portion of those benefits as divisible non-marital property. (Carlton County)
Clemmie Howard Tucker, Jr., Appellant v. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A09-666: Appellant Clemmie Tucker pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder. At the plea hearing, Tucker admitted that he drove after the victim’s car, and when she stopped, he intentionally shot into her car. He also admitted that he did not call for medical assistance after the shooting. The parties’ plea agreement called for a sentence of 225 months, which was a 75-month upward durational departure. The district court gave two reasons for the upward departure—invasion of the victim’s zone of privacy and failure to render aid and assistance. Tucker did not file a direct appeal. In 2008, Tucker petitioned for postconviction relief, arguing that the upward durational departure was invalid. The district court denied the petition, concluding that the failure to render aid was a valid reason for an upward durational departure. The court of appeals affirmed Tucker’s sentence. On appeal to the supreme court, the issue is whether the failure to render aid is an aggravating factor that can be used by the district court to support an upward durational sentencing departure. (Hennepin County)
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Albert A. Garcia, Jr., a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 219472 – Case No. A09-877: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate upon the facts of the matter.
EN BANC NONORAL: Adrian Dominic Riley, a/k/a Amiri Abdul Rasheed‑El, petitioner, Appellant v. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A10-587: Appellant Adrian Dominic Riley was convicted in 1996 of three counts of first-degree premeditated murder; his convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Riley, 568 N.W.2d 518 (Minn. 1997). In 2009, Riley petitioned for postconviction relief, claiming his warrantless arrest was not supported by probable cause, that charging him with three counts of first-degree murder violated double jeopardy, that there was insufficient evidence to support the verdicts, and that the testimony of a ballistics expert was inadmissible. The district court denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing. On appeal to the supreme court, the issue is whether the district court erred in denying the petition without an evidentiary hearing. (Carver County)
Thursday, October 7, 2010, 10:00 a.m.
Rochester Mayo High School
State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Erika Lynn Diede, Appellant – Case No. A09-1120: Appellant Erika Diede was charged with fifth-degree controlled-substance crime after the police found methamphetamine in a baggie inside of her cigarette pack. Diede filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the police illegally seized her prior to finding the baggie, that the police illegally expanded the scope of her detention when they investigated her cigarette pack, and that she did not consent to the search of her cigarette pack. The district court denied Diede’s motion to suppress. Diede then waived her right to a jury trial, and the parties agreed to a stipulated-facts trial pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 4. The district court found Diede guilty of fifth-degree controlled-substance crime. The court of appeals affirmed the denial of Diede’s motion to suppress. On appeal to the supreme court, Diede presents the following issues: (1) whether the police had a particularized and objective basis to suspect Diede of criminal activity before they seized her; and (2) whether Diede consented to the search of her cigarette pack. (Otter Tail County)
Monday, October 11, 2010
Judicial Center – Courtroom 300
William Paul Vickla, Respondent v. State of Minnesota, Appellant – Case No. A09‑830: In 2005, respondent William Vickla was charged with several offenses related to possessing and offering forged checks. The State also gave notice that it intended to seek an upward sentencing departure under the career-offender statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.1095, subd. 4 (2008). Dating back to 1970, Vickla had 17 prior convictions, 13 of which were felonies. Vickla pleaded guilty to an amended charge of offering a forged check in an amount over $35,000. The statutory-maximum sentence for this offense was 20 years. Vickla also waived his right to a sentencing jury and admitted that he had five or more prior felony convictions and that the present offense was part of a pattern of criminal behavior. Citing the career-offender statute, the district court sentenced Vickla to 240 months in prison. The court of appeals reversed Vickla’s sentence. On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the district court abused its discretion in sentencing Vickla to the statutory-maximum sentence as a career offender. (Dakota County)
Gregory Latterell, as trustee for the heirs of Jared Travis Boom, decedent v. Progressive Northern Insurance Company, Respondent, AIG Insurance Company, Respondent – Case No. A09-1138: Jared Boom died in a car accident while delivering books to a library as a subcontractor for National Dispatch of Albany, Inc. Boom used his own car for the job, which he insured with respondent Progressive Northern Insurance Company. At the time of the accident, Boom was living with his mother and stepfather, petitioner Gregory Latterell. Latterell had an automobile insurance policy through respondent AIG Insurance Company, which covered resident relatives.
Latterell, as trustee for Boom’s estate, settled with the other driver’s insurance company for the liability limit of that policy. Latterell then sought to recover primary underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits from Progressive. Progressive denied coverage based on a policy exclusion for UIM claims incurred while carrying property for “compensation or a fee.” After Progressive denied coverage, Latterell sought excess UIM benefits from respondent AIG Insurance Company. AIG agreed that Boom was a resident relative under the AIG policy, but denied the claim on the basis that Boom was the named insured under the Progressive policy insuring the vehicle he was occupying at the time of the accident. Latterell filed suit against Progressive and AIG, seeking to recover UIM benefits. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Progressive and AIG, concluding that Boom was not entitled to UIM benefits from either insurer. The court of appeals affirmed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether Progressive’s policy exclusion for UIM claims incurred while carrying property for “compensation or a fee” violates Minnesota’s No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act; (2) whether Progressive’s policy exclusion for IUM claims incurred while carrying property for “compensation or a fee” was ambiguous; and (3) whether the denial of primary UIM benefits under the Progressive policy means that Boom is entitled to excess UIM benefits under the AIG policy. (Hennepin County)
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Judicial Center – Courtroom 300
State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Victor Martinez-Mendoza, Appellant – Case No. A09-2151: Appellant Victor Martinez-Mendoza was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct. Count 1 charged first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Count 2 charged a version of second-degree criminal sexual conduct that is a level D offense under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. The presumptive sentence for a level D offense for someone with Martinez-Mendoza’s criminal history is a 36-month, stayed sentence. Other forms of second-degree criminal sexual conduct are a level B offense under the sentencing guidelines. The presumptive sentence for a level B offense for someone with Martinez-Mendoza’s criminal-history score is 90‑108 months in prison, with a fixed presumptive sentence of 90 months.
The parties reached a plea agreement, in which Martinez-Mendoza agreed to plead guilty to Count 2. The written plea petition described the plea agreement as: “dismiss count I @ sentencing. Middle of the box or 90 months commit to prison on Count II.” At the plea hearing, the district court accepted Martinez-Mendoza’s guilty plea to Count 2 and adjudicated him guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree. The district court scheduled the matter for sentencing.
After Martinez-Mendoza pleaded guilty, the prosecutor learned that his belief that the presumptive sentence for Count 2 was 90 months in prison was wrong. The State filed an amended complaint, which retained Count 1 but changed Count 2 to a version of second-degree criminal sexual conduct that is a level B offense. The State also filed a motion asking that Martinez-Mendoza’s plea be withdrawn based on a mutual mistake regarding the presumptive sentence for the offense to which he pleaded guilty.
The district court denied the State’s motion to withdraw the plea, and it sentenced petitioner to a 36-month, stayed sentence. The State filed an appeal pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 28.04, subd. 1, which governs a prosecutor’s appeal of a pretrial order. The court of appeals reversed the district court’s decision not to allow the State to withdraw from the plea agreement.
Martinez-Mendoza presents four issues on appeal to the supreme court: (1) whether the State could appeal the district court’s order denying its motion to withdraw from the plea agreement under Minn. R. Crim. P. 28.04 because jeopardy had already attached; (2) whether a guilty plea can be vacated over the defendant’s objection; (3) whether further prosecution of Martinez-Mendoza for criminal sexual conduct is barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause or Minn. Stat. §§ 609.035 and 609.04 (2008); and (4) whether the State can withdraw from a plea agreement based on the theory of mutual mistake. (Ramsey County)
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Judicial Center – Courtroom 300
City of Cohasset, Appellant v. Minnesota Power, an Operating Division of Allete, Inc., Respondent – Case No. A09-572: Respondent Minnesota Power operates an electric generating facility, the Boswell Energy Center, within the boundaries of appellant the City of Cohasset (the City). In 2008, Minnesota Power received a permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for the construction of a pipeline that would connect the Boswell Energy Center to the another natural gas pipeline that runs nears the Cohasset city limits.
The City sued Minnesota Power, contending that it was required to obtain a franchise or other permit from the City to operate a natural gas pipeline that it intended to build within the City’s boarders. The City also sought a temporary injunction. The district court denied the requested injunction and dismissed the complaint, concluding that Minnesota Power was not subject to the City’s franchise power under Minn. Stat. § 216B.36 (2008), because Minnesota Power was not a “public utility” within the meaning of that statute. The court of appeals affirmed the district court.
On appeal to the supreme court, the City raises two issues: (1) whether the operator of an intracity natural gas pipeline must obtain a franchise from the city where the pipeline is located and pay a franchise fee; and (2) whether the City’s franchise and licensing power is preempted by Minn. Stat. § 216G.02 (2008), which requires a permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for construction of a natural gas pipeline. (Itasca County)
State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Cody Adam Bauer, Appellant – Case No. A08-1698: Appellant Cody Bauer was convicted of third-degree sale of a controlled substance for selling ecstasy, failure to affix a tax stamp to a controlled substance, and two counts of fifth-degree sale of a controlled substance for the sale of marijuana. The district court sentenced Bauer to stays of imposition of sentence on all counts and placed him on probation. The court of appeals affirmed Bauer’s sentence. The issue presented to the supreme court on appeal is whether the district court could sentence Bauer for both third-degree sale of a controlled substance and failure to affix a tax stamp to a controlled substance when both convictions involved the same controlled substance. (Roseau County)