EN BANC CALENDAR
Before the Minnesota Supreme Court
SUMMARY OF ISSUES
Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office
Monday, October 29, 2018
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor
State of Minnesota, Appellant vs. Everett Overweg, Respondent – Case No. A17-1978: In April 2010, respondent Everett Overweg was charged with two counts of possession of child pornography. While the child-pornography charges were pending, the State charged Overweg with two counts of criminal sexual conduct. Overweg pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct and was convicted in August 2011.
In October 2012, Overweg’s child-pornography case was resolved. He pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography. The district court accepted his guilty plea, sentenced him to 20 months in prison, to run concurrently with his criminal-sexual- conduct sentence, and imposed a 10-year conditional-release term pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 617.247, subd. 9 (2012).
In June 2017, Overweg filed a motion to correct his 2012 sentence, arguing that his 10-year conditional-release term was unlawful. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether a 10-year period of conditional release was correctly imposed as part of Overweg’s sentence for possessing child pornography under Minn. Stat. § 617.247, subd. 9, because he had been convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct when the district court sentenced him for possessing child pornography. (Murray County)
Central Housing Associates, LP, Respondent vs. Aaron Olson, Appellant – Case No. A17-1286: Respondent landlord Central Housing Associates, LP, and tenant appellant Aaron Olson entered into a residential lease. Central Housing sought to evict Olson for breach of the lease terms, but Olson refused to vacate, and Central Housing filed an eviction action in district court. A jury found that Olson materially violated the lease and Central Housing retaliated against Olson for his complaints about the property. Central Housing moved for judgment as a matter of law, arguing that the retaliation defense does not prevent an eviction premised on breach-of-lease allegations. The district court denied the motion and entered judgment for possession in favor of Olson.
Central Housing appealed and the court of appeals reversed in a published decision. The court of appeals reasoned, in part, that the retaliation-eviction defense under Minn. Stat. § 504B.441 (2016), which protects a residential tenant from eviction “as a penalty for the residential tenant’s . . . complaint of a violation” requires the tenant to have made a “complaint” in the sense of a civil complaint filed in a tenant’s rights’ action under Minn. Stat. § 504B.395 (2016), which Olson had not done. Olson also sought to assert a common-law retaliation defense to eviction, but the court of appeals reasoned that Olson v. Bowen, 192 N.W.2d 188 (Minn. 1971), precluded any such common-law defense.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are (1) whether the availability of a retaliation defense to eviction under Minn. Stat. § 504B.441 depends on the tenant having filed a tenant-remedies action under Minn. Stat. § 504B.395; and (2) whether Minnesota should recognize a common-law retaliation defense to eviction. (Hennepin County)
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor
State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Blair Bruce Lee, Appellant – Case No. A17-0543: Appellant Blair Lee was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and domestic assault by strangulation based on allegations that Lee assaulted his wife in their home. At Lee’s initial appearance, the district court issued a domestic-abuse no-contact order requiring Lee to stay away from his wife and their residence. Lee’s wife returned to the residence with the children.
Lee filed a motion for an order authorizing defense counsel to enter, inspect, and photograph the residence. The district court denied the motion. Lee filed a petition for a writ of prohibition. A special-term panel of the court of appeals concluded that the district court’s order denying Lee’s motion to inspect the home was unauthorized by law because it was contrary to State v. Lee, 461 N.W.2d 245, 246–47 (Minn. App. 1990), but the panel denied the petition because Lee had not demonstrated that the ordinary remedy of an appeal from judgment was an inadequate remedy at law. After the court of appeals denied the petition for a writ of prohibition, Lee renewed his motion to inspect the residence in the district court. The district court denied the motion. A jury found Lee guilty of both counts. The court of appeals affirmed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are (1) whether Lee had the right to inspect and photograph the building where the crimes were alleged to have occurred, under Minn. R. Crim. P. 9.01; (2) whether a criminal defendant has a qualified constitutional right to access and inspect a crime scene, subject to court-established restrictions on the time, place, and manner of any inspection; (3) whether Lee is entitled to a new trial because the denial of his right to inspect and photograph the crime scene was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (4) whether the court of appeals erred by treating the decision of the special-term panel regarding a defendant’s right to inspect a crime scene under Minn. R. Crim. P. 9.01 as the law of the case that was unreviewable on direct appeal. (Hennepin County)
Nonoral: State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Harry Jerome Evans, Appellant – Case No. A18-0994: Appellant Harry Evans was convicted of first-degree murder for killing on-duty police officer Gerald Vick in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release. The supreme court affirmed Evans’ conviction on direct appeal. State v. Evans, 756 N.W.2d 854 (Minn. 2008).
In April 2018, Evans filed his second motion to correct his sentence, arguing that the sentence imposed by the district court under Minn. Stat. § 609.106, subd. 2(1) (2016), of life in prison without the possibility of release, should instead be called “mandatory life” to be consistent with language used in the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. Evans also argued that his sentence violated Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). The district court denied the motion.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the district court abused its discretion in denying appellant’s motion to correct his sentence. (Ramsey County)
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol Building, Second Floor
In re the Matter of the Annexation of Certain Real Property to the City of Proctor from Midway Township – Case No. A17-1210: Appellant Midway Township, appellant City of Duluth, and respondent City of Proctor all share borders with one another. In 2013, Duluth and Midway entered into an orderly annexation agreement (OA Agreement) pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 414.0325 (2014) with respect to certain land in Midway (OA Area). An orderly annexation agreement is a binding contract that governs annexation of property in a designated area. But certain landowners in the OA Area petitioned Proctor, which was not a party to the OA Agreement, to annex their property, and in August of 2014, Proctor adopted an ordinance pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2(2) (2016), to annex the property. Duluth objected to the proposed annexation-by-ordinance on the ground that the OA Agreement made the property ineligible to be annexed by other means.
Following a hearing before the chief administrative law judge of respondent Office of Administrative Hearings, the Chief ALJ approved Proctor’s annexation-by-ordinance, concluding that the OA Agreement did not preempt the rights of non-parties to the OA Agreement to conduct an annexation-by-ordinance in the OA Area. Duluth and Midway appealed to the district court, which vacated the Chief ALJ’s decision, concluding that once an orderly annexation agreement is entered into, the methods of annexation set forth in Minn. Stat. § 414.0325, subd. 1(e), are the exclusive methods by which property in the area may be annexed. The court of appeals reversed in a published opinion.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether adoption of an orderly annexation agreement pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 414.0325 precludes other methods of annexation of the same property. (St. Louis County)
William H. Johnson, Respondent vs. Darchuks Fabrication, Inc. and Harleysville Insurance, Relators – Case No. A18-1131: Respondent William Johnson injured his ankle at work in September 2002. His employer, relator Darchuks Fabrication, admitted liability for the work-related injury and paid benefits, including for medical treatment after Johnson was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). In 2016, Darchuks notified Johnson’s medical provider that it would no longer pay for treatment for CRPS because a recent independent medical examination concluded that Johnson had recovered from CRPS. Johnson petitioned for continued payment of medical expenses, and Darchuks, in response, also asserted that continued treatment for CRPS was no longer reasonable and necessary to cure and relieve from the effects of the 2002 injury. Following a hearing, the compensation judge concluded that the treatment parameters in chapter 5221, Minnesota Rules, do not apply based on Darchuks’ 2016 denial of liability for Johnson’s continued medical treatment for CRPS.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the workers’ compensation treatment parameters in chapter 5221, Minnesota Rules, apply when the employer does not dispute liability for the work-related injury but disputes a diagnosis related to the injury. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Mitchell Hamline Law School
In the Matter of the Welfare of: A.J.B., Child – Case No. A17-1161: Appellant A.J.B. created an anonymous Twitter account and, over the course of several hours, tweeted messages about a classmate that tagged the Twitter account of the classmate. Respondent State of Minnesota filed a juvenile delinquency petition charging appellant with felony and gross-misdemeanor stalking in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subds. 2(6), 3(a)(1) (2016), and misdemeanor harassment in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.795, subd. 1(3) (2016). Appellant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the stalking and harassment statutes violate the First Amendment on their face and as applied. The district court denied the motion. After a trial, the district court adjudicated appellant delinquent of the gross-misdemeanor stalking and misdemeanor harassment charges but stayed adjudication of the felony stalking charge. The court of appeals affirmed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are (1) whether Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 2(6), and Minn. Stat. § 609.795, subd. 1(3), are unconstitutionally overbroad on their face in violation of the First Amendment; and (2) whether Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 2(6), and Minn. Stat. § 609.795, subd. 1(3), as applied to appellant, violate the First Amendment. (Scott County)
Monday, November 5, 2018
Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center
Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, Respondent vs. Commissioner of Revenue, Appellant – Case No. A18-0864: Respondent Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership owns a pipeline system that stretches across Canada and several states, including Minnesota. Relator, the Commissioner of Revenue, assessed the system unit value of Enbridge’s pipeline system as of tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014. In proceedings before the tax court in which Enbridge challenged the Commissioner’s assessments based on those valuations, the tax court used an income approach to determine the correct value of the pipeline system. The tax court concluded that the depreciated original cost formula explained in Minn. R. 8100.0300, does not bind the tax court in its valuation decisions. Relying on the decision in Minnesota Energy Resources Corp. v. Commissioner of Revenue, 886 N.W.2d 786, 801 (Minn. 2016), the Commissioner petitioned for discretionary review by this court, arguing that the tax court erred as a matter of law in refusing to apply the methodology set forth in Rule 8100 to determine the value of Enbridge’s pipeline system.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the tax court erred when it decided that it was not bound to apply the methodology to determine the market value of Enbridge’s pipeline system. (Minnesota Tax Court)
Randall Sehlstrom, a/k/a Randy Sehlstrom, Appellant vs. Leland Sehlstrom, Respondent – Case No. A17-1732: Appellant Randall Sehlstrom, his brother respondent Leland Sehlstrom, and their siblings inherited property that includes commercially-exploitable sand and gravel. Appellant brought a partition action to divide the land, which was resolved in January 2012 with a stipulated judgment providing appellant with the land that contains the gravel pit, but reserved for respondent a “perpetual 1/7 royalty interest in and to” the gross sales of the sand and gravel from the property; required appellant to give an accounting to respondent of all the sand and gravel extracted; and required appellant to give a release to respondent allowing direct contact and information from each buyer of the sand and gravel, in order to verify the transactions. In the first year after the judgment was entered, appellant did not provide the required accounting or release to respondent. In August 2013, respondent brought a motion to hold appellant in contempt, and appellant provided an accounting and release. The district court denied the contempt motion.
Appellant continued to provide accountings and paid respondent some royalties, but respondent believed the accountings were false and appellant was underpaying. Respondent attempted to get information from the sand and gravel buyers, but they refused to talk to respondent. In 2017, respondent tried to set appellant’s deposition, but appellant refused. Respondent then scheduled depositions of two of the sand and gravel buyers. Appellant filed an emergency motion to stop post-judgment discovery and a motion for a protective order, but the district court denied both. The deponents testified that appellant told them not to share information with respondent. Respondent filed a motion to hold appellant in contempt for failing to pay the royalties required by the 2012 judgment, which the district court granted, ordering appellant to pay $12,575.33 in unpaid royalties as well as attorney fees and imposing 30 days of jail time if appellant did not pay within 30 days. Appellant appealed. In an unpublished decision, the court of appeals reversed and remanded as to the specific amount of royalties and attorney fees, but otherwise affirmed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are (1) whether the 2012 judgment was a money judgment or a judgment for an interest in land; (2) whether the 2012 judgment made respondent a judgment creditor entitled to take post-judgment discovery; (3) whether appellant was entitled to a jury trial on the amount of unpaid royalties; and (4) whether the district court erred in holding appellant in contempt when no previous order had been entered compelling appellant to pay a specific sum of money. (Roseau County)
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center
State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Mohamed Musa Jama, Appellant – Case No. A17-0481: Respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant Mohamed Musa Jama with gross misdemeanor indecent exposure in violation of Minn. Stat. § 617.23, subd. 2(1) (2016), which prohibits a person from willfully and lewdly exposing the person’s private parts in the presence of a minor under the age of 16. Jama pleaded not guilty to the charge. The district court denied Jama’s request to present the statutory defense of voluntary intoxication and the common-law defense of involuntary intoxication. A jury found Jama guilty as charged. On appeal, appellant argued that the district court erred when it determined that the offense of indecent exposure is a general-intent crime and failed to instruct the jurors on his intoxication defenses. The court of appeals affirmed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are (1) whether the offense of indecent exposure is a general-intent crime; and (2) whether the district court committed reversible error in its jury instructions. (Hennepin County)
State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Deronti Rogers, Jr., Appellant – Case No. A17-0986: Appellant Deronti Rogers was charged with first-degree and second-degree burglary after a neighbor witnessed him enter an unoccupied home and carry out several items. When police officers responded to the neighbor’s 911 call and made contact with Rogers in the alley behind the residence, they observed Rogers drop a weapon on the ground, which was later determined to be an unloaded BB gun. The district court found Rogers guilty of both first-degree and second-degree burglary.
Rogers appealed his first-degree burglary conviction, arguing that the plain language of the first-degree burglary statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 1(b) (2016), requires the State to prove that the victim of the burglary was present at the time of the offense and reasonably believed that he possessed a dangerous weapon. In a published opinion, the court of appeals rejected Rogers’ argument, holding that the plain language of the statute does not require the State to prove that a burglary victim was present at the time of the offense and subjectively believed the perpetrator possessed a dangerous weapon.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether first-degree burglary committed while possessing an article fashioned to look like a dangerous weapon requires the victim to be present and believe the perpetrator is in possession of a dangerous weapon. (Stearns County)
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center
In re Charges of Unprofessional Conduct in Panel File No. 42735 – Case No. A18-0277: A client retained an attorney to represent him in a matter that the client had already filed, acting pro se, related to a contract for deed. Prior to the attorney being retained, the defendant in the matter filed a motion to dismiss and for summary judgment and scheduled a hearing. The attorney rescheduled the hearing. The client’s response to the defendant’s motion was due October 17, 2015. On October 23, 2015, the attorney filed a response to the defendant’s motion on the client’s behalf. The district court accepted the response.
A panel of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board determined that the attorney’s knowing failure to timely file a response to the defendant’s motion violated Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 3.4(c). It issued an admonition.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are (1) whether the panel clearly erred in finding that the attorney violated Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 3.4(c) by filing a responsive memorandum six days after the deadline set forth in the general practice rules when the response was accepted by the district court; and (2) whether the panel clearly erred by finding that the attorney had not limited the scope of his representation of the client so he was not obligated to file a response to the defendant’s motion. (Panel of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board)
Nonoral: Ronald Lindsey Reed, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case Nos. A17-0407, A18-0644: Appellant Ronald Reed was convicted of aiding and abetting first-degree murder for the death of on-duty police officer James Sackett in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison. The supreme court affirmed Reed’s conviction on direct appeal. State v. Reed, 737 N.W.2d 572 (Minn. 2007).
In August 2016, Reed filed his second postconviction petition, challenging witness testimony and evidence presented during the jury trial. Reed also argued that his constitutional rights were violated during the trial. The district court denied the petition.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the postconviction court abused its discretion in denying Reed’s postconviction petition for relief. (Ramsey County)