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EN BANC CALENDAR

Before the Minnesota Supreme Court

February 2021

SUMMARY OF ISSUES

Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office

Monday, February 1, 2021

Minnesota Judicial Center

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Carrie Lynn Friese, Appellant – Case No. A19-0451: The police executed a warrant to search the home where appellant Carrie Lynn Friese was staying. During the search, the police found Friese and her 9-year-old child sitting on a mattress in one of the bedrooms. Tucked between the mattress and the wall, the police discovered a small purse that contained methamphetamine. Respondent the State of Minnesota charged Friese with knowing exposure of a child to methamphetamine, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.137, subd. 2(b) (2020), which prohibits a person from knowingly causing or permitting a child “to inhale, be exposed to, have contact with, or ingest methamphetamine, a chemical substance, or methamphetamine paraphernalia.” Following a trial, a jury found Friese guilty as charged. The court of appeals affirmed Friese’s conviction.

On appeal to the supreme court the issue presented is whether the phrase “be exposed to,” as used in Minn. Stat. § 152.137, subd. 2(b), requires the State to prove the defendant physically subjected a child to methamphetamine. (Olmsted County)

 

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. James Francis Montano, Appellant – Case No. A20-0756: Following a jury trial, appellant James Montano was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. The district court sentenced Montano to consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of release and 180 months in prison.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether Montano is entitled to a new trial because the district court did not give an accomplice corroboration jury instruction. (Carlton County)

 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Minnesota Judicial Center

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Adam Charles McCoy, Appellant – Case No. A20-0485: In 2019, appellant Adam McCoy was charged with first-degree and second-degree criminal sexual conduct after he confessed during a polygraph examination to having sexual contact with his ex-girlfriend’s daughter. McCoy was required to complete the polygraph examination as a condition of his probation for a prior criminal sexual conduct conviction. McCoy filed a motion to suppress his confession and argued that the State’s use of his confession to charge new criminal offenses violated the Fifth Amendment and Minn. Stat. § 634.03 (2020). The district court granted the suppression motion and dismissed the new charges. The State appealed and the court of appeals reversed the district court.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue is whether the State’s use of statements made during a court-ordered polygraph examination to charge new criminal offenses violates the Fifth Amendment and Minn. Stat. § 634.03. (Cass County)

 

Joseph Roach, et al., Respondents vs. County of Becker, Defendant, Thomas Alinder, et al., Appellants, Gary Heitkamp Construction, Inc., et al., Appellants – Case No. A19-2083: This appeal arises from issues related to land alteration and water runoff. Appellants Thomas and Sandra Alinder and respondents Joseph and Jennifer Roach own adjacent lakeshore properties in Becker County. The Alinders contracted with appellants Gary Heitkamp and Gary Heitkamp Construction, Inc., to build a home on the Alinders’ property. Construction activities included adding fill to the property, which diverted water runoff to the Roaches’ property.

After years of litigation between the parties, the district court bifurcated the trial between liability and damages. This appeal relates to the trial on damages. The jury awarded the Roaches $210,000 in past compensatory damages, $50,000 in nuisance damages, and $300,000 in future damages. Both sides made post-trial motions. As relevant here, the district court (1) conditionally granted appellants’ motion for a new trial on the basis of excessive damages unless the Roaches accepted “a remittitur of the future damages award,” as well as a reduction in costs and disbursements; (2) granted the Roaches’ motion for preverdict interest in part; and (3) denied the Roaches’ motion for statutory attorney fees.

The Roaches accepted the remittitur, but appealed the final judgment. The court of appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the Roaches’ acceptance of the remitted judgment foreclosed their right to appeal; and (2) whether the Roaches are entitled to attorney fees under the Watershed Law, Minn. Stat § 103D.545 (2020). (Becker County)

 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Minnesota Judicial Center

State of Minnesota, Appellant/Cross-Respondent vs. Michael James Boss, Respondent/Cross-Appellant – Case No. A19-1671: The State of Minnesota charged Michael Boss with encouraging the need for protection or services, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 260C.425, subd. 1(a) (2020). This statute provides that “[a]ny person who by act, word, or omission encourages, causes, or contributes to the need for protection or services is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.” Id. Boss waived his right to a jury trial. Following a court trial, the district court found Boss guilty.

The court of appeals reversed Boss’s conviction for insufficient evidence. It reduced Boss’s conviction to attempting to contribute to the need for protection or services, pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 28.02, and remanded for resentencing.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether to prove a defendant violated Minn. Stat. § 260C.425, subd. 1(a), the State is required to prove a child was in need of protection or services; (2) when an appellate court concludes that there is insufficient evidence to prove that a defendant violated a statute, may it reduce the conviction to an attempt if the jury did not find that the State had proven that the defendant attempted to violate the statute. (Brown County)

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Barry L. Blomquist, Jr., a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 012090X – Case No. A19-1461: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based on the facts of the matter.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Minnesota Judicial Center

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Francios Momolu Khalil, Appellant – Case No. A19-1281: In 2018, appellant Francios Khalil was charged with first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct based on allegations that he sexually assaulted an adult female who had consumed alcohol and Vicodin earlier in the evening and passed out on a couch in his home. When instructing the jury, the district court explained that a person is “mentally incapacitated” if she lacks the judgment to give reasoned consent to sexual penetration due to the influence of alcohol, a narcotic, or any other substance administered without her agreement. During deliberations, the jury asked the district court to clarify the definition of mental incapacitation. The jury found Khalil guilty of one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct but acquitted him of the other charges. The court of appeals affirmed Khalil’s conviction.

On appeal to the supreme court, the issue is whether the district court correctly instructed the jury on the definition of the phrase “mentally incapacitated” in Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(d) (2020). (Hennepin County)