Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court declined Appellants’ invitation to depart from the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967) and hold that Minnesota’s constitution requires that an administrative search warrant be supported by probable cause of the sort required in a criminal investigation. Camara held that an administrative warrant satisfies the probable cause requirement if reasonable legislative or administrative standards for conducting an unconsented-to rental housing inspection are satisfied with respect to a particular dwelling. In this case, the City of Golden Valley petitioned the district court for an administrative search warrant to search rental property for compliance with the city code. The district court denied the petition for the administrative search warrant, concluding that the issuance of such a search warrant was foreclosed without suspicion of a code violation. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Minnesota Constitution does not require individualized suspicion of a code violation to support an administrative search warrant for a rental housing inspection. View "City of Golden Valley v. Wiebesick" on Justia 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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Defendant was charged in May 2013 with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. When Defendant failed to appear for his first appearance, the district court issued a warrant for his arrest. In February 2015, Defendant was arrested for unrelated reasons. Before his omnibus hearing, Defendant moved to dismiss the charges, claiming that the twenty-one-month delay between the date he was charged and his eventual arrest violated his right to a speedy trial under the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. The district court granted Defendant’s motion and dismissed the charges after applying the four-factor balancing test from Barker v. Wingo. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the third and fourth Barker factors did not weigh in Defendant’s favor, and therefore, on balance, the State had not violated Defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that although the delay may have been attributable to the State’s negligence, Defendant’s failure to assert his speedy trial right weighed heavily against him and ultimately led to the conclusion that the State did not violate Defendant’s right to a speedy trial. View "State v. Osorio" on Justia Law

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Appellant submitted several requests for public government data from Hennepin County and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (collectively, Respondents) under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Respondents responded to all of Appellant’s requests except for a request asking that Respondents perform a computer-aided search of their stored e-emails using twenty separate search terms. Appellant filed a complaint alleging that Hennepin County had violated the Data Practices Act by failing to promptly and substantively respond to his data requests. An administrative law judge (ALJ) concluded that Hennepin County had violated the Data Practices Act and ordered it to produce all requested data. Respondents appealed the decision and obtained a stay from the ALJ pending appeal. Thereafter, Appellant filed a motion to lift the stay. The court of appeals denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ’s decision to issue a stay pending appeal was not an abuse of discretion. View "Webster v. Hennepin County" on Justia Law

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The State charged Defendant under Minn. Stat. 609.352, subd. 2a(2) with felony communication with a child describing sexual conduct after she sent sexually explicit images and messages to a fifteen-year-old boy. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that section 609.352, subd. 2a(2) proscribes a substantial amount of speech that the First Amendment protects and thus facially violates the First Amendment. The district court concluded that the statute violates the First Amendment, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that 609.352, subd. 2a(2) is not substantially overbroad in relation to its plainly legitimate sweep. View "State v. Muccio" on Justia Law

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After Appellant pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct, removal proceedings were initiated against him. In an attempt to avoid deportation, Appellant filed an emergency motion to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing, inter alia, that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel failed accurately to inform him that his plea would lead to his removal from the United States. Specifically, Appellant argued that Padilla v. Kentucky required his attorney to advise him that the plea would result in his deportation, rather than just the deportation was a possibility. The postconviction court denied Appellant’s motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Padilla did not require Appellant’s counsel to do anything more than provide a general warning about the immigration consequences of entering the plea, and therefore, Appellant’s counsel satisfied his obligation under the Sixth Amendment. View "Sanchez v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was arrested and charged with drug-related crimes. The district court ordered Defendant’s pretrial release. The district court later found probable cause that Defendant had violated the conditions of her release and issued a warrant for her arrest. Officers then went to the residence of Defendant’s boyfriend. One officer opened an unlocked door, went inside, and arrested Defendant. While arresting her, the officer saw marijuana and a bong in plain view. Law enforcement then obtained a search warrant for the apartment of Defendant’s boyfriend. The state subsequently charged Defendant with two counts of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The district court suppressed all fruits of Defendant’s arrest and dismissed the charges, concluding that the arrest was illegal because the warrant for Defendant's arrest did not authorize police to enter her boyfriend’s apartment. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution nor Article I, Section 10 of the Minnesota Constitution requires police to obtain a search warrant before entering a home to arrest a guest who is the subject of a lawfully issued arrest warrant. View "State v. deLottinville" on Justia Law

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After declaring his write-in candidacy for President of the United States for the 2016 general election, Steve Carlson filed a request with the Secretary of State asking him to count the votes cast for his candidacy. The Secretary of State refused to accept the request because Carlson did not “include the name of a candidate for vice-president of the United States” with the request pursuant to Minn. Stat. 204B.09, subdivision 3(b). Carlson then filed this petition with the Supreme Court asking the Court to direct the Secretary of State to accept his request because requiring him to name a vice-presidential candidate burdens the First Amendment associational rights of write-in candidates and the voters who support those candidates. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that the requirement for write-in candidates to designate a vice-presidential candidate does not violate the associational rights protected by the First Amendment. View "Carlson v. Simon" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to felony domestic assault in district court. Following sentencing, Ramsey County Community Corrections notified the district court that Defendant was required to register as a predatory offender due to his conviction. Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea on the ground that he had not been aware that his conviction would trigger the requirement to register as a predatory offender. The district court denied the request. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a defense attorney’s failure to advise a defendant about predatory offender registration requirements before the defendant enters a plea of guilty does not violate a defendant’s right to effective assistance of counsel, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to withdraw his guilty plea. View "Taylor v. State" 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