Justia Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Respondents submitted a petition to the Minneapolis Charter Commission to amend the City Charter to establish a local minimum-wage standard in the City of Minneapolis. The City Clerk certified that the petition met the statutory signature requirements. Reasoning that the minimum-wage amendment was legislature in nature and that the City Charter does not provide for voter initiatives for the passage of ordinances by a ballot referendum, the City Attorney recommended that the City Council decline to place the provision on the November 2016 general election ballot. Thereafter, the City Council voted not to include the wage amendment on the ballot for the general election. Respondents filed a petition asking the district court to order the City Council to place the proposed charter amendment before the voters on the ballot, arguing that the City had a duty to put the proposed amendment on the ballot. The district court granted the petition, concluding that the proposed charter amendment was the proper subject of a citizen initiative. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in granting the petition because Minneapolis residents do not have legislative and policymaking authority under the City Charter. View "Vasseur v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law
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Appellant was charged with the issuance of a dishonored check in violation of the dishonored-check statute when her check for past-due property taxes was returned by her bank for insufficient funds. The district court dismissed the criminal complaint, concluding that Appellant’s check for past-due property taxes met the statutory exception for “a check given for a past consideration” because there was no contemporaneous exchange of goods or services for the check. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) “a check given for a past consideration” refers to a check given for a good or service that was received in the past; and (2) because Appellant’s check for past-due property taxes was given, in part, for government services provided in the previous year, her check was “given for a past consideration.” View "State v. Schouweiler" on Justia Law
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Defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual conduct. Defendant’s sentence consisted of a term of imprisonment, a supervised-release term, and a conditional-release term. After Defendant was released from prison on supervised release, a hearing officer found that Defendant had violated the terms of his supervised release, revoked his supervised release, and ordered him returned to prison. The Department of Corrections (DOC) later informed Defendant that it had recalculated the projected expiration date of his conditional-release term in light of two recent decisions from the court of appeals. Defendant filed a habeas petition alleging that the DOC’s new method for calculating the expiration date of his conditional-release term was illegal because it did not give him credit for the time he had spent in prison after the DOC had revoked his supervised release. Defendant was subsequently released into the community. Thereafter, the district court denied Defendant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that an inmate is not entitled to credit against a conditional-release term for any time the inmate spends in prison after the DOC has revoked the inmate’s supervised release. View "State v. Roy" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of first-degree felony murder. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the district court committed reversible error when it admitted evidence of another crime, wrong, or act - or Spreigl evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) even if the district court erred in admitting the Spreigl evidence, there was no reasonable possibility that the evidence significantly affected the verdict; (2) the district court did not commit reversible error when it denied Appellant’s motion for a mistrial; (3) the State’s evidence was sufficient to prove Appellant shot the victim with an intent to kill; and (4) Appellant’s pro se claims raised in a supplemental pro se brief lacked merit. View "State v. Griffin" on Justia Law
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In 2012, Wife filed a petition to dissolve her marriage to Husband. The court approved the parties’ stipulation and entered partial final judgment dissolving the marriage. The stipulation, however, did not address Wife’s request for spousal maintenance. After a trial on the issue, the district court declined to award maintenance to Wife, determining that Wife could reallocate the investment assets equitably distributed to her in the property settlement to produce sufficient income to meet her reasonable monthly expenses. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in taking into account the income-earning potential of the assets that Wife received in the equitable distribution of marital property; but (2) under the circumstances, the district court’s obligation to consider the tax consequences of the reallocation required remand. View "Curtis v. Curtis" on Justia Law
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Menard, Inc. challenged Clay County’s assessment of the market value of Menard’s home improvement retail store as of January 2, 2011 through January 2, 2014. A trial ensued before the tax court, after which the court adopted market valuations below the County’s assessment values but above Menard’s expert appraiser’s valuation. Both Menard and the County appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the tax court’s value determinations, holding that the tax court did not err in weighting the sales comparison approach and the cost approach for the valuation years at issue and did not fail adequately to explain its reasoning for that decision. View "Menard, Inc. v. County of Clay" on Justia Law

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Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation (MERC) challenged the Commissioner of Revenue’s 2008 to 2012 valuation of its natural-gas pipeline distribution system. After a trial, the Commissioner determined (1) for each of the years from 2008 to 2011, the market value of MERC’s property was lower than the Commissioner’s valuation; and (2) for 2012, the Commissioner undervalued MERC’s pipeline distribution system. Both MERC and the Commissioner appealed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the tax court’s explanation of the beta factors it used to calculate MERC’s cost of equity was insufficient; and (2) the tax court evaluated MERC’s evidence of external obsolescence under the wrong legal standard. Remanded. View "Minnesota Energy Resources Corp. v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Hennepin County assessed real estate taxes on two properties owned by STRIB IV, LLC. STRIB IV applied to the County to classify the properties under Minnesota’s Green Acres statute, but the County denied the application. The tax court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the tax court’s order, holding that STRIB IV’s subject properties did not qualify for Green Acres classification, as the Green Acres statute does not include properties owned by single-member LLCs such as STRIB IV, and the result required by the Green Acres statute’s plain language is not absurd. View "STRIB IV, LLC v. County of Hennepin" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of possession of a firearm by an ineligible person for possessing a BB gun. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that an air-powered BB gun is a “firearm” within the meaning of Minn. Stat. 609.165 and that section 609.165 was not unconstitutionally vague as applied to Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed and vacated Defendant’s conviction, holding that an air-powered BB gun is not a “firearm” under the plain meaning of section 609.165, and therefore, Defendant’s possession of an air-powered BB gun did not violate the statute. View "State v. Haywood" on Justia Law

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Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder for the benefit of a gang on an accomplice-liability theory. The Supreme Court affirmed. After unsuccessfully filing two postconviction petitions, Appellant filed a third postconviction petition in which he alleged that three witnesses presented false testimony at his trial. Following an evidentiary hearing, the postconviction court denied Appellant’s third postconviction petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the postconviction court did not err when it rejected Appellant’s claim that the prosecutor intimidated a recanting witness when it apprised the witness of his Fifth Amendment rights; and (2) the postconviction court did not err when it struck the testimony the witness gave before invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege. View "Caldwell v. State" on Justia Law