Justia Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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In the case before the Supreme Court of Minnesota, the appellant, Larry Jonnell Gilbert, was convicted of possession of a firearm by an ineligible person. Gilbert then sought postconviction relief, alleging that the State's DNA expert gave false testimony at trial. The district court granted Gilbert a new trial without explicitly addressing whether Gilbert's claim was procedurally barred under the rule from State v. Knaffla, which states that all matters raised in a direct appeal and all claims known but not raised, will not be considered upon a subsequent petition for postconviction relief. The state appealed this decision and the court of appeals reversed it.The Supreme Court of Minnesota held that a district court abuses its discretion by granting a petition for postconviction relief without explicitly determining whether the claim is procedurally barred and offering a sufficient explanation to support a determination that the claim is not procedurally barred. Applying this to the facts of the case, the Supreme Court of Minnesota found that the district court abused its discretion by not explicitly determining whether Gilbert's claim was procedurally barred under Knaffla before granting postconviction relief. Therefore, the court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals, but on different grounds.Regarding the merits of Gilbert's claim about alleged false expert testimony, the court expressed no opinion, as it determined that Gilbert's postconviction claim was procedurally barred under Knaffla. View "Gilbert vs. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In a dispute with the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Minnesota, Nobility Home Health Care, Inc. (Nobility) was found to have violated Minnesota Statutes section 256B.064 and Minnesota Rule 9505.2165 by failing to maintain health service records as required by law and by submitting claims for services for which underlying health service records were inadequate. The Minnesota Supreme Court held that such conduct constitutes "abuse" under the statute, even if there was no intent to deceive the DHS. However, the court declined to interpret or apply the phrase "improperly paid... as a result of" abuse in the statute, which governs the grounds for monetary recovery. The court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and remanded the case to the DHS for further analysis of this issue. The court's decision means that DHS's demand for an overpayment for Nobility’s first-time paperwork errors may not be reversed unless the DHS also establishes that the provider was improperly paid because of that abuse. View "In the Matter of SIRS Appeal by Nobility Home Health Care, Inc" on Justia Law

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In Minnesota, a man convicted of taking pornographic photographs of a child was ordered by a district court to pay restitution for therapy costs and lost wages incurred by the child's mother. The appellant argued that the mother, as a secondary victim, was only eligible for restitution for losses suffered directly by the child. The State contended that under Minnesota Statutes section 611A.01, family members of the direct victim are part of a singular class of victims because when a child suffers, their parents suffer as well. The Minnesota Supreme Court agreed with the State's argument and affirmed the lower court's decision. It held that Minnesota Statutes section 611A.01(b) creates a singular class of victims that includes the direct victims of a crime and, if the direct victim is a minor, those family members of the minor who incur a personal loss or harm as a direct result of the crime. View "State of Minnesota vs. Allison" on Justia Law

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In a case heard by the Supreme Court of Minnesota, the defendant, Christian Portillo, was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. During the trial, the prosecutor elicited testimony from the State’s witnesses regarding evidence that the district court had previously ruled as inadmissible. The defendant's motion for a mistrial was denied by the district court. During the closing-argument rebuttal, the prosecutor told the jury that the defendant no longer held the presumption of innocence based on the evidence presented during the trial. The defendant did not object to this statement. The jury found the defendant guilty of one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.The defendant appealed, arguing that he was denied a fair trial due to prosecutorial errors committed by the State. The court of appeals affirmed the district court's decision, concluding that the prosecutor's misstatement of the law did not affect the defendant's substantial rights.Upon review, the Supreme Court of Minnesota reversed the decision of the court of appeals. The Supreme Court found that the prosecutor’s misstatement of the law during the closing-argument rebuttal was a plain error that affected the defendant’s substantial rights. The court held that the defendant is entitled to a new trial as the error must be addressed to ensure the fairness and integrity of the judicial proceedings. View "State of Minnesota vs. Portillo" on Justia Law

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The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the lower courts to terminate a mother's parental rights due to her failure to appear for the final day of a multiple-day termination of parental rights trial. The mother, identified as S.T., had argued that the district court violated her procedural due process rights by refusing to reschedule the trial to allow her to testify, offer additional witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses. However, the Supreme Court found that S.T. failed to demonstrate that the outcome of the trial was materially affected by her absence. The Supreme Court noted that although S.T.'s absence was troubling, the district court's refusal to continue or reschedule the hearing did not automatically violate due process. The court concluded that S.T. did not make a sufficient case that her testimony or that of her proposed witnesses would have materially affected the outcome of the trial. Therefore, the court upheld the termination of S.T.'s parental rights. View "In the Matter of the Welfare of the Children of: G.A.H. and S.T., Parents" on Justia Law

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In 2015, a group of parents brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of their children, who were enrolled in Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools. The parents claimed that the state of Minnesota violated their children's right to an adequate education under the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution due to the racial and socioeconomic segregation present in the schools. The case went through several years of litigation, and the district court certified a question for immediate appeal: whether racial imbalances in Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools are sufficient, standing alone, to establish a violation of the Education Clause. The Minnesota Supreme Court reformulated the certified question and held that racial imbalances in Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools, standing alone, are not sufficient to establish a violation of the Education Clause. The court ruled that while the parents do not have to establish that state action caused the racial imbalances, they must show that the racial imbalances are a substantial factor in causing their children to receive an inadequate education. The case was remanded back to the district court for further proceedings. View "Cruz-Guzman, as guardian and next friend of his minor children vs. State of Minnesota" on Justia Law

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The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that an individual can bring a private action under the Minnesota private attorney general statute to compel a healthcare provider to disclose that individual’s medical records as required by the Minnesota Health Records Act. This decision was based on the interpretation of the private attorney general statute, which the court concluded applies to laws regarding unfair, discriminatory, and other unlawful practices in business, commerce, or trade. The court found that the Minnesota Health Records Act, which mandates the timely disclosure of health records to patients, falls within this category. However, the court also held that an individual does not have a private right of action under the Minnesota Health Care Bill of Rights to compel a healthcare provider to disclose an individual’s medical records. The ruling affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. View "Findling vs. Group Health Plan, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Minnesota Tax Court affirming the assessment of the Commissioner of Revenue assessing tax on an apportioned share of Cities Management, Inc.'s (CMI) income from the sale of the S corporation, holding that the income from the corporation's sale was apportionable business income.CMI, which did business in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and its nonresidential partial owner filed Minnesota tax returns characterizing the sale of CMI's goodwill as income that was not subject to apportionment by the State under Minn. Stat. Ann. 290.17. The Commissioner disagreed and assessed tax on an apportioned share of the corporation's income from the sale. The tax court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that CMI's income did not constitute "nonbusiness" income under section 290.17, subd. 6 and may be constitutionally apportioned as business income. View "Cities Management, Inc. v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for first-degree felony murder but reversed and vacated his conviction for second-degree murder, holding that it was error to convict Defendant of first-degree murder as well as the lesser-included offense of second-degree murder.After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of both first-degree felony murder and second-degree intentional murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of release after thirty years. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by prohibiting Defendant from asserting his entrapment defense at trial and denying his request for jury instructions on the lesser-included offenses; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's guilty verdicts; but (3) the district court erred by entering convictions for both first-degree felony murder and second-degree intentional murder after the jury returned the guilty verdicts. View "State v. Cruz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellants' appeal of the dismissal of their petition for permanent third-party custody of their great niece, K.J., holding that the court of appeals erred in dismissing the appeal for failure to timely serve the guardian ad litem with a notice of appeal under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.01, subdivision 1.After Appellants filed their petition the district court appointed a guardian ad litem. A referee approved a stipulation of shared joint legal and physical custody of K.J. by Respondent, K.J.'s mother, and K.J.'s father. After a hearing, the court dismissed Appellants' petition for third-party custody. The court subsequently discharged the guardian ad litem, after which Appellants appealed. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for failure to timely serve the guardian ad litem under Rule 103.01, subdivision 1. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the guardian ad litem was no longer a party to the action once she was discharged by the district court; and (2) Rule 103.01, subdivision 1 does not require service of a notice of appeal on a former party whose dismissal is not itself the subject of the appeal. View "Blakey v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law