Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the postconviction court that Defendant was entitled to a new trial because a juror was actually biased and not sufficiently rehabilitated but that the search of Defendant did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights. Defendant was convicted of possession of a firearm by an ineligible person. Thereafter, Defendant filed a postconviction petition arguing that the district court erred in denying his for-cause strike of Juror 18 and that the police unreasonably searched and seized him, violating his Fourth Amendment rights. The postconviction court rejected Defendant’s Fourth Amendment argument but concluded that the district court committed reversible error by denying the motion to strike Juror 18 for cause. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the search of Defendant was objectively reasonable under the emergency-aid exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement; and (2) Defendant was entitled to a new trial because the presence of the actually biased juror. View "Ries v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a warrantless narcotics-dog sniff in the hallway outside Defendant’s apartment did not violate Defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable searches under the Minnesota and United States Constitutions. A jury found Defendant guilty of first-degree and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The court of appeals reversed the convictions, concluding that the narcotics-dog sniff in the hallway immediately adjacent to Defendant’s apartment door was a search under the Fourth Amendment because it violated Defendant’s reasonable expectations of privacy and that the warrantless search of Defendant’s home was unreasonable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the police did not intrude upon the curtilage of Defendant’s apartment or his reasonable expectation of privacy when they conducted the dog sniff, and therefore, no Fourth Amendment search occurred; and (2) because the police were lawfully present in the hallway and had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, the dog sniff did not violate Minn. Const. art. I, section 10. View "State v. Edstrom" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Minn. Stat. 609.344(1)(b) and 609.345(1)(b), which prohibit sexual penetration and sexual conduct where the complainant is between thirteen and sixteen years of age and the actor is more than two years older than the complainant, are constitutional even though they prevented Defendant from asserting a mistake-of-age defense. The statutes at issue provide a mistake-of-age defense but only to actors who are no more than 120 months older than the complainant. On appeal, the court of appeals held that the statutes did not violate the guarantees of substantive due process and equal protection under the federal and state constitutions and did not unconstitutionally impose strict liability. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) sections 2609.344(1)(b) and 609.345(1)(b) do not violate substantive due process or equal protection by limiting a mistake-of-age defense to defendants who are no more than 120 months older than the complainant; and (2) the statutes do not impose strict liability but, instead, require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the actor had a general intent to engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact with the complainant. View "State v. Holloway" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s conviction for first- and second-degree murder on an aiding-and-abetting theory. The Court held (1) even if it was error for the district court to admit into evidence Appellant’s statement to police, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the district court plainly erred by giving a no-adverse-inference instruction to the jury without Appellant’s consent, but the error was not prejudicial; and (3) assuming, without deciding, that the prosecutor committed misconduct during closing argument by “indirectly alluding” to Appellant’s failure to testify, the prosecutor’s argument was not prejudicial. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that four irrevocable inter vivos trusts (the Trusts) lacked sufficient relevant contacts with Minnesota during the relevant tax year to be permissibly taxed, consistent with due process, on all sources of income as “resident trusts.” The Trusts filed their 2014 Minnesota income tax returns under protest, asserting that Minn. Stat. 290.01(7b)(a)(2), the statute classifying them as resident trusts, was unconstitutional as applied to them. The Trusts sought refunds for the difference between taxation as resident trusts and taxation as non-resident trusts. The Commissioner of Revenue denied the refund claims. The Minnesota Tax Court granted summary judgment for the Trusts, holding that the statutory definition of “resident trust” violates the Due Process Clauses of the Minnesota and United States Constitutions as applied to the Trusts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, for due process purposes, the State lacked sufficient contacts with the Trusts to support taxation of the Trusts’ entire income as residents. View "Fielding v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the postconviction court’s denial of Petitioner’s second petition for postconviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release. After his first postconviction petition was summarily denied, Petitioner filed his second postconviction petition, alleging the existence of sixteen pieces of newly discovered evidence. The postconviction court denied the second petition without holding an evidentiary hearing, concluding that the petition was untimely because the facts alleged in the petition did not satisfy the statutory newly-discovered-evidence exception. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the postconviction court abused its discretion by making improper credibility determinations without holding an evidentiary hearing; and (2) the facts alleged in support of Petitioner’s remaining claims did not satisfy the newly-discovered-evidence or interests-of-justice exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. View "Anderson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s denial of Petitioner’s petition for postconviction relief, holding that the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion. Petitioner was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder. Petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of release for the murder conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed. Petitioner later filed a petition for postconviction relief, alleging six grounds for postconviction relief. The postconviction court rejected the petition without holding an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s claims were either procedurally barred or failed as a matter of law. View "Fox v. State" on Justia Law

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The limited right to counsel recognized in Friedman v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W. 2d 828 (Minn. 1991), applies only to implied-consent cases. The district court in this case suppressed the results of a urine sample provided by Defendant at a jail after his arrest for driving while impaired (DWI) because the sheriff’s deputy, when asking Defendant if he would consent to urine testing, failed to read the implied-consent advisory that would have advised Defendant of his right to counsel. The court concluded that, by failing to read the advisory, the deputy failed to allow Defendant to vindicate his right to counsel prior to testing. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the officer did not read the implied-consent advisory in this case, under Friedman, the limited right to counsel was not triggered; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in suppressing the urine test results on that ground. View "State v. Hunn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the court of appeals and district court that Respondent’s due process rights were violated when he was read an inaccurate implied consent advisory after his arrest on suspicion of driving while impaired. Respondent refused to submit to either a urine or a blood test. Thereafter, the Commissioner of Public Safety revoked Respondent’s driver’s license for refusing to submit to a test. Relying on McDonnell v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W.2d 848 (Minn. 1991), the district court rescinded the revocation after finding that the implied consent advisory violated Respondent’s due process rights because it incorrectly stated that refusal to submit to a urine test was a crime. The court of appeals affirmed on the basis that the threat of legally impossible criminal charges for refusal to submit to a urine test violated due process. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Respondent did not rely on the implied consent advisory to his detriment, and instead refused to submit to testing, no due process violation occurred under McDonnell. View "Johnson v. Commissioner of Public Safety" on Justia Law

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Appellant failed to establish that he was prejudiced by the implied consent advisory read to him after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired, and therefore, Appellant was not entitled to a rescission of his license revocation under McDonnell v. Commissioner of Public Safety, 473 N.W.2d 848 (Minn. 1991). Appellant submitted to a blood test, and the test results showed an alcohol concentration above the legal limit. Appellant’s driver’s license was subsequently revoked. The district court sustained the revocation on the basis that Appellant voluntarily consented to the blood test. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant was not entitled to a rescission of his license revocation under McDonnell because he did not even claim, much less establish, that he prejudicially relied on the implied consent advisory. View "Morehouse v. Commissioner of Public Safety" on Justia Law