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EN BANC CALENDAR

Before the Minnesota Supreme Court

September 2017

SUMMARY OF ISSUES

Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Tara Renaye Molnau, Appellant – Case No. A16-0330: Law enforcement obtained a daytime search warrant to search the home and person of N.Z. for methamphetamine, other controlled substances, and other items associated with selling drugs. When law enforcement executed the warrant, appellant Tara Molnau was found sitting on a couch in the living room. During the search, law enforcement found a purse that belonged to Molnau on the kitchen table. An officer searched the purse and found methamphetamine inside.

Respondent State of Minnesota charged Molnau with third-degree possession of a controlled substance. Molnau filed a motion to suppress the methamphetamine, arguing the police illegally searched her purse during the execution of the search warrant of N.Z.’s home. The district court denied the motion to suppress. Following a stipulated-facts trial, the district court found Molnau guilty of third-degree controlled-substance crime. The court of appeals affirmed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the police lawfully searched a purse belonging to Molnau, a non-resident of the premises, during the execution of a premises search warrant. (McLeod County)

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Emile Rey, Appellant – Case No. A16-0198: Appellant Emile Rey pleaded guilty to identity theft in connection with a scheme in which he and an accomplice used cloned credit cards to make numerous fraudulent purchases. As part of the factual basis for his plea, Rey admitted that the State had identified at least 66 persons whose credit information he had misappropriated. As part of its sentencing order, the district court ordered Rey to pay mandatory minimum restitution in the amount of $1,000 to each of these 66 “direct victims,” as required by Minn. Stat. § 609.527, subd. 4(b) (2016). The court of appeals affirmed the restitution award.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the identity-theft statute’s mandatory-minimum restitution provision violates Rey’s right to procedural due process because it does not allow him to challenge the award; (2) whether the identity-theft statute violates Rey’s right to substantive due process because it imposes an arbitrary award without regard to a victim’s actual loss; and (3) whether the mandatory-minimum $66,000 restitution award is an unconstitutional fine that violated Rey’s right to a jury trial. (Dakota County)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor 

Nonoral: Keith Henderson, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A17-0124: In 1999 following a jury trial, the district court convicted appellant Keith Henderson of first-degree murder and crime committed for the benefit of a gang in connection with the shooting death of Juwan Gatlin. The supreme court affirmed Henderson’s convictions and sentence on direct appeal.

In May 2016, Henderson filed a petition for postconviction relief, alleging a violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and a claim for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. The district court summarily denied the petition.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the district court abused its discretion by denying Henderson’s petition as untimely; and (2) whether the district court erred by denying Henderson’s claims without conducting an evidentiary hearing. (Hennepin County)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor

William Buskey, et al., Appellants vs. American Legion Post #270, d/b/a Buffalo American Legion or Buffalo American Legion Post, Respondent – Case No. A16-0216: Appellants William Buskey, et al., brought dram shop claims against respondent American Legion Post #270 following the death of Mary Jo Meyer-Buskey in an automobile collision. American Legion moved for partial summary judgment on the claims, arguing that appellants failed to provide written notice of their claims within the statutory 240-day period under subdivision 1 of Minnesota Statutes § 340.802 (2016). Appellants responded that American Legion had “[a]ctual notice of sufficient facts reasonably to put the licensee . . . on notice of a possible claim” under subdivision 2 of section 340A.802. The district court dismissed appellants’ claims. In a divided decision, the court of appeals affirmed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether American Legion had actual notice of sufficient facts reasonably to put the licensee on notice of a possible claim, as required by Minn. Stat. § 340A.802. (Wright County)

Nonoral: Tracy Alan Zornes, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A16-1389: In November 2011, appellant Tracy Zornes was convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder for the killing of Megan Londo and John Cadotte. Zornes was also convicted of first-degree arson of a dwelling and theft of a motor vehicle. The supreme court affirmed Zornes’ convictions on direct appeal.

In December 2016, Zornes filed a petition for postconviction relief alleging several grounds for relief, including newly discovered evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, and denial of his right to an impartial jury. The district court denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether Zornes’ claims are procedurally barred by State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737 (Minn. 1976); (2) whether Zornes is entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his newly discovered evidence claim; and (3) whether Zornes’ claims of prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, and denial of his right to an impartial jury are meritless. (Clay County)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

Thomas J. Litterer and Mary L. Litterer, Appellants vs. Rushmore Loan Management Services, LLC as Servicing agent for U.S. Bank National Association as Legal Title Trust for Truman 2012 SC Title Trust and U.S. Bank National Association as Legal Title Trust for Truman 2012 SC Title Trust, Respondents – Case No. A17-0472: Appellants Thomas and Mary Litterer brought an action against respondents Rushmore Loan Management Services and U.S. Bank National Association seeking to set aside the foreclosure sale of their home. The lawsuit was removed to federal district court in Minnesota. Appellants alleged, among other claims, that respondents violated Minn. Stat. § 582.043 (2016). That statute provides that “for an action taken” under the statute to enjoin or set aside a foreclosure sale, “[a] lis pendens must be recorded prior to the expiration of the mortgagor’s applicable redemption period.” Id., subd. 7(b).

Respondents moved for summary judgment on appellants’ claim under Minn. Stat. § 582.043. They argued in part that appellants’ claim failed as a matter of law because they did not record a notice of lis pendens before their redemption period expired. The federal district court granted respondents’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that excusable neglect could not excuse the late recording of a notice of lis pendens under Minn. Stat. § 582.043, subd. 7(b).

Appellants appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Eighth Circuit noted there was no controlling precedent on whether the lis pendens deadline contained in Minn. Stat. § 582.043, subd. 7(b), may be extended upon a showing of excusable neglect. The Eighth Circuit certified the question to the supreme court, which accepted it pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 480.065 (2016).

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is may the lis pendens deadline contained in Minn. Stat. § 582.043, subd. 7(b), be extended upon a showing of excusable neglect pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 6.02. (United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center 

Michelle Beth Kremer, Respondent vs. Robbie Michael Kremer, Appellant – Case No. A15-2006: Shortly before they were to leave for their destination wedding, appellant Robbie Kremer (husband) gave respondent Michelle Kremer (wife) a signed antenuptial agreement and made it clear there would be no wedding if she did not sign the agreement. The agreement addressed the disposition of nonmarital and marital property, as well as spousal maintenance, upon dissolution of the marriage. Husband told wife to talk to an attorney, but she was not able to secure an appointment with her attorney from her previous divorce. She signed the agreement after consulting with a different attorney. The parties do not dispute that there was a full and fair disclosure of assets.

After petitioning for marriage dissolution, wife moved to set aside the antenuptial agreement. The district court concluded that the agreement was procedurally invalid and substantively unfair at its inception and awarded wife marital property and spousal maintenance without regard to the agreement. In a divided decision, the court of appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling that the agreement is procedurally invalid; however, to the extent that the district court relied on Minn. Stat. § 519.11 (2016) as “the standard for evaluating procedural fairness,” the court of appeals determined that “the district court erred.” The court of appeals held that the procedural fairness of an antenuptial agreement that covers or includes marital property is assessed under the common law, using the multifactor test outlined in In re Estate of Kinney, 733 N.W.2d 118, 124 (Minn. 2007). Nonetheless, “because the district court’s findings of fact support the conclusion that the agreement is invalid under the common-law standard,” the court of appeals concluded that the district court did not err in determining that the agreement is invalid.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the antenuptial agreement is procedurally fair; (2) whether there was coercion and duress that renders the agreement invalid; and (3) whether the agreement is valid and enforceable under Minnesota law. (Nobles County) 

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Matthew Vaughn Diamond, Appellant – Case No. A15-2075: Following a jury trial, appellant Matthew Diamond was convicted of second-degree burglary. At trial, the State admitted evidence it had obtained from Diamond’s cellphone after the district court had ordered Diamond to unlock his cellphone with his fingerprint. The court of appeals affirmed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the district court violated Diamond’s Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination when it ordered him to unlock his cellphone with his fingerprint. (Carver County)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 

Nonoral: Ronald R. and Dee L. Johnson, Relators vs. County of Hennepin, Respondent – Case No. A17-0419: Relators Ronald and Dee Johnson filed a petition challenging the property tax assessment for property they own in Shoreview, Minnesota. Relators raised a number of constitutional claims in their petition. The tax court dismissed relator’s constitutional claims, concluding it did not have jurisdiction to hear these claims.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the tax court erred by dismissing relators’ constitutional claims. (Minnesota Tax Court)