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Defendant was charged with two counts of second-degree intentional murder. Defendant filed a petition to plead guilty to both counts, but the petition was denied based on the State’s notice, right before the guilty-plea hearing, of its intent to seek a grand-jury indictment on first-degree murder charges. Thereafter, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Defendant with six counts of first-degree murder. The State dismissed the second-degree murder charges. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree premeditated murder and one count of first-degree murder while committing a burglary. Defendant filed a petition for postconviction relief requesting that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and instead plead guilty to the original second-degree murder charges. The postconviction court denied the petition without holding an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s petition for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing because Defendant failed to establish that withdrawal was necessary to correct a manifest injustice. View "Dikken v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) abused its discretion when it granted Eddie Hudson’s petition to vacate an award of workers’ compensation benefits. Hudson was injured while working for Trillium Staffing and filed a workers’ compensation claim. The parties eventually settled. About one year later, Hudson filed a petition to vacate the award. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) granted the petition, finding that Hudson’s medical condition had substantially changed in a way that clearly was not, and could not reasonably have been, anticipated at the time of the award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the WCCA abused its discretion when it granted Hudson’s petition because the medical opinion underlying the WCCA’s decision lacked foundation and therefore did not establish a substantial change in Hudson’s medical condition. View "Hudson v. Trillium Staffing" on Justia Law

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In this negligence lawsuit filed against Kraemer Construction, Inc., the Supreme Court held that Kraemer and Ulland Brothers, Inc. were engaged in a common enterprise as a matter of law when Richard Washburn was killed and that the election of remedies provision required dismissal of the suit. Jessica Kelly, as trustee for the next-of-kin of Washburn, filed this lawsuit against Kraemer for its alleged negligence in causing Washburn’s death by electrocution at a construction site. Kraemer moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was engaged in a common enterprise with Ulland, Washburn’s employer, when Washburn was killed and that the election-of-remedies provision of the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act prevented Kelly from bringing a civil action against Kraemer when her children had already recovered workers’ compensation benefits from Ulland. The court of appeals reversed the district court’s denial of summary judgment and remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of Kraemer. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Kraemer and Ulland were engaged in a common enterprise and that the election of remedies provision required dismissal. View "Kelly v. Kraemer Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this arbitration dispute, the district court erred by directing the entry of final judgment rather than staying the proceeding, and the court of appeals, faced with a final appealable judgment, should have vacated the judgment and entered a stay of the underlying action pending completion of the arbitration. Plaintiff sued Defendants to stop arbitration proceedings after Defendants demanded arbitration and an arbitrator determined that the dispute was arbitrable. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants and compelled arbitration. Instead of staying the underlying action, the district court directed the entry of judgment. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court’s order was a final judgment because it dismissed, rather than stayed, the underlying proceeding. The court of appeals disagreed and dismissed the appeal as taken from a nonfinal order and judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred by directing the entry of final judgment rather than staying the proceeding, as required by Minn. Stat. 572B.07(f); and (2) the proper course for the court of appeals, faced with a final judgment that was appealable under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.03(a), was to direct the district court to vacate the judgment and enter a stay of the underlying action pending completion of the arbitration. View "City of Rochester v. Kottschade" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to terroristic threats. As part of the factual basis for his plea, Defendant admitted that he posted five threatening tweets directed at law enforcement officers. Defendant filed a motion for a downward durational sentencing departure, which was warranted by his remorse, his intoxication, and the less serious nature of social media threats. The district court granted Defendant’s request. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s sentence and remanded to the district court for further proceedings, holding (1) Defendant’s “mental state” was not a proper reason to impose a downward durational sentencing departure; (2) the record did not reflect any offense-related remote that would provide an alternative ground to support the downward durational sentencing departure; and (3) the circumstances surrounding Defendant’s use of a social media platform to publish his threats did not mitigate his culpability. View "State v. Rund" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Minn. Stat. 554.02, a section of Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP law, is unconstitutional as applied to claims at law alleging torts. Petitioners sued Asian Women United of Minnesota (AWUM), a nonprofit organization, seeking to recover under a number of legal theories of injuries allegedly inflicted by AWUM through four previous lawsuits. AWUM moved for dismissal under Minnesota’s anti-SLAPP law. Minn. Stat. 554.01-.06. The district court dismissed all of Petitioners’ claims with the exception of their claim for malicious prosecution. The district court concluded that Minn. Stat. 554.02 - the section of the law that governs motions “to dispose of a judicial claim” - violated Petitioners’ right to a jury trial by requiring the trial judge to find facts. As a result, the district court denied AWUM’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 554.02 is unconstitutional when it requires a district court to make a pretrial finding that speech or conduct is not tortious under Minn. Stat. 554.03, as was the case here. View "Leiendecker v. Asian Women United of Minnesota" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Defendant was found guilty of possession of a firearm by an ineligible person. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. The State petitioned for review, arguing that the court of appeals erred in its application of law and asking the Supreme Court to abandon the separate standard of review for convictions based on circumstantial evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals correctly applied the law and properly found that the State presented insufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction; and (2) the State has not established a compelling reason for the court to overrule an approximately century-old rule governing the review of convictions based on circumstantial evidence. View "State v. Harris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder committed for the benefit of a gang. The Supreme Court affirmed. The day before the postconviction statute of limitations expired, Appellant filed his second petition for postconviction relief and, over the next six months, filed various addenda and attachments to his second petition. Appellant also filed a third petition raising additional claims and filed a motion requesting re-testing of certain trial evidence. Without holding an evidentiary hearing, the postconviction court denied both petitions and Appellant’s other requests, determining that his claims were untimely filed or procedurally barred, or failed on the merits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that each of the claims Appellant raised in his second and third petitions for postconviction relief, as well as the claims raised in the addenda to the second petition, failed. View "Brown v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Appellant, a juvenile offender, challenged the district court’s imposition of three consecutive sentences of life imprisonment with the possibility of release after thirty years on each sentence for his three murder convictions. Appellant argued, among other things, that the rule announced in Miller v. Alabama and clarified in Montgomery v. Louisiana should apply to his case because his consecutive sentences were, in the aggregate, the functional equivalent of life imprisonment without the possibility of release. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this court declines to extend the Miller/Montgomery to include Appellant or other similarly situated offenders because the United States Supreme Court has not squarely addressed the issue of whether consecutive sentences should be viewed separately when conducting a proportionality analysis; and (2) Appellant’s three consecutive sentences do no unfairly exaggerate the criminality of his conduct. View "State v. Ali" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for first-degree felony murder rendered after a jury trial. The district court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment with the possibility of release after thirty years. Specifically, the Court held (1) the State presented sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing of the victim occurred while Defendant was attempting to commit an aggravated robbery; and (2) the district court did not commit plain error by failing to include language requiring a causal relationship between the killing and the attempted robbery in the jury instruction on first-degree felony murder. View "State v. Webster" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law