EN BANC CALENDAR

Before the Minnesota Supreme Court

April 2008

SUMMARY OF ISSUES

Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office

Monday, March 31, 2008

University of St. Thomas Law School – 10:00 a.m.

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Nicholas E. Bartylla, Appellant – Case No. A07-1166:  Minnesota Statutes § 609.117 (2006) requires individuals convicted of felonies to provide a biological specimen for purposes of DNA analysis.  When appellant Nicholas E. Bartylla was sent to prison in 2003 for burglary and assault, the state obtained a saliva sample from him and, from the sample, created a DNA profile.  In 2006, officers matched DNA found at the scene of a 2002 rape and murder to Bartylla’s DNA profile.  Based on this DNA match, Bartylla was convicted of felony murder.  Several issues are before the supreme court on appeal from that conviction:  (1) whether the saliva sample taken from Bartylla was an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment because it was obtained without a warrant; (2) whether the saliva sample constituted an unreasonable search under the Minnesota Constitution because at the time the sample was taken, authorities did not suspect that Bartylla had committed any other crimes; (3) whether the district court erred in allowing expert testimony on the statistical significance of the DNA profile matches without a Frye-Mack hearing on the general acceptance of the statistical methodology in the scientific community; and (4) whether the district court erred in admitting at trial evidence of Bartylla’s prior crimes.  Bartylla raises additional issues in a pro se supplemental brief.  (Hennepin County)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Kent Richard Jones, Appellant – Case No. A07-457:  Appellant Kent Jones was convicted of murder committed during a sexual assault; his conviction was reversed by the supreme court.  State v. Jones, 678 N.W.2d 1 (Minn. 2004).  On retrial, Jones was again convicted, and presents the following issues on direct appeal:  (1) whether the prosecutor committed misconduct warranting a new trial; (2) whether it was plain error for the district court to allow the prosecution to question Jones’ wife about the details of their sexual relations because such information is protected by the privilege afforded to marital communications; and (3) whether the district court erred in barring Jones from introducing, in support of his alternative-perpetrator defense, evidence of the victim’s sexual assault by her husband during their first marriage and between their 1977 divorce and their 1991 remarriage.  Jones raises additional issues in a pro se supplemental brief.  (Sherburne County)

Michael Bolen, et al, Respondents vs. Todd Glass, Appellant, City of Duluth, Respondent – Case Nos. A06-1422 and A06-1440**:  Appellant Todd Glass, respondents Michael and Debra Bolen, and respondent Joseph Zajac all own property adjoining 40th Street in Duluth.  40th Street was dedicated as part of the plat of the Oatka Beach Addition but, except for a stop sign and curb cuts on the intersecting Minnesota Avenue, was never constructed.  In 2005, Glass obtained from the City of Duluth a permit to construct a driveway on 40th Street to access a garage on his property.  At the request of Zajac and the Bolens, the district court ordered Glass to remove the driveway.  The court of appeals affirmed.  At issue before the supreme court are the following questions:  (1) whether 40th Street was “open” to public use; (2) whether the owner of property abutting a platted and dedicated street has a right of reasonable access to that street; (3) whether the owner of a lot within a plat has a right to use a street that was dedicated as part of the same plat; and (4) whether the city had the authority to grant Glass a permit to construct the driveway.  (St. Louis County)

**  Stricken from April 1 calendar and rescheduled to May 7, 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Hector Manuel Medrano, Appellant – Case No. A07-1437:  Appellant Hector Medrano was convicted of first-degree murder.  On appeal from that conviction, Medrano asks the supreme court to decide whether his confession should have been suppressed by the district court because the interrogating officer’s Miranda warning was confusing and improperly linked Medrano’s right to consult with counsel to a future event, in this case, Medrano’s first court appearance the following day.  (Dodge County)

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Stephen Vincent Grigsby, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 291973 – Case No. A07-688:  An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate under the facts of the matter.

Thursday, April 3, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Michael J. Dahlin, Appellant – Case No. A06-717:  Appellant Michael J. Dahlin was convicted in 2001 of aiding and abetting first-degree murder; his conviction was reversed on appeal.  State v. Dahlin, 695 N.W.2d 588 (Minn. 2005).  On remand to the district court for retrial, the matter was assigned to the same district court judge who presided over Dahlin’s first trial.  Dahlin sought to remove the judge under Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.03, subd. 13(4), which allows a defendant to peremptorily remove the judge assigned to a trial or hearing, but which also provides that a defendant cannot remove, except for cause, a judge “who has already presided at the trial, Omnibus Hearing, or other evidentiary hearing.”  Dahlin’s notice of removal was denied, as was Dahlin’s petition to the court of appeals for an extraordinary writ to have a different judge appointed to preside over his retrial.  Dahlin did not seek review by the supreme court of the court of appeals’ denial of an extraordinary writ.  Dahlin was convicted after a court trial of aiding and abetting second-degree murder; the conviction was affirmed on direct appeal.  The issue before the supreme court is whether the peremptory removal procedure under Rule 26.03 applies when the defendant’s initial conviction has been reversed and the matter has been remanded to the district court for a new trial.  (Hennepin County)

EN BANC NONORAL:  John Steven Martin, petitioner, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A07-2150:  Appellant John Steven Martin was convicted of first-degree murder; his conviction was affirmed on direct appeal.  State v. Martin, 614 N.W.2d 214 (Minn. 2000).  In 2007, petitioner sought post-conviction relief, claiming that the district court abused its discretion in sentencing petitioner in view of alleged prosecutorial misconduct, attorney-client conflicts, ineffective assistance of counsel, and personal bias on the part of the judge.  The district court denied the request for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing.  The issue for the supreme court is whether the district court abused its discretion in denying postconviction relief.  (Carlton County)

Monday, April 7, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

In the Matter of the Alexandria Lake Area Sanitary District NPDES/SDS Permit No. MN0040738, Reissuance for the Expanded Discharge of Treated Wastewater, Douglas County, Alexandria, Minnesota – Case No. A06-1371:  Appellant Alexandria Lake Area Sanitary District operates a wastewater treatment facility that discharges into the Winona-Agnes-Henry chain of lakes.  In 2006, appellant Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reissued the District’s permit for operation of the facility with more stringent limits on the amount of effluents the facility could discharge.  Respondent Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy appealed the MPCA’s determination to the court of appeals, which reversed and remanded to the MPCA on grounds that the MPCA had misinterpreted the applicable regulations under the federal Clean Water Act.  Both the MPCA and the District petitioned the supreme court for review.  The following issues are to be decided:  (1) whether the applicable federal regulation is ambiguous and therefore subject to interpretation by the MPCA; (2) whether the MPCA’s application of the federal regulation requires the MPCA to use its special knowledge and expertise; (3) whether the effluent limits set by the MPCA for the facility were a reasonable interpretation and application of the federal regulation that is entitled to deference; and (4) whether the permit as issued by the MPCA to the District violated the Clean Water Act.  (Douglas County)

State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Pedro Maldono Rodriguez, Jr., Appellant – Case No. A06-974:  After appellant Pedro Rodriguez, Jr., pleaded guilty to several controlled substance crimes, his initial sentence was reversed under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004).  The district court convened a sentencing jury and, based on the jury’s findings, imposed a sentence that was a double upward durational departure.  Rodriguez appealed his sentence to the court of appeals, which affirmed.  The supreme court is asked to decide:  (1) whether criminal defendants are entitled to the same constitutional protections – such as the right of confrontation and application of the rules of evidence – in a sentencing trial as they are in a trial to determine guilt or innocence on the underlying charges; (2) whether the district court erred in refusing to instruct the sentencing jury on the requirement that accomplice testimony be corroborated; (3) whether the facts as found by the sentencing jury were substantial and compelling reasons to depart from the presumptive sentence; and (4) whether, because Rodriguez had been discharged from probation before committing the offenses for which he was sentenced, the district court erred in including in Rodriguez’s criminal history score a custody status point.  (Polk County)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

In the Matter of the Welfare of:  N.J.S., Child – Case No. A06-2277:  N.J.S., age 15 and with no prior delinquency record, was charged with second-degree murder.  N.J.S. was initially deemed incompetent to stand trial and was civilly committed as mentally ill and dangerous.  After competency was restored, the district court certified him as an adult for trial.  The certification was affirmed by the court of appeals.  Under Minn. Stat. § 260B.125, subd. 4(3) (2006), among the factors the district court is to consider in determining whether public safety is served by certifying the child to be tried as an adult is “the child’s prior record of delinquency.”  Two issues are before the supreme court:  (1) whether in evaluating N.J.S.’s prior record of delinquency, the juvenile court properly considered behavior reflected in school disciplinary records for which N.J.S. was not charged; and (2) whether the evidence before the district court that certification was necessary to protect public safety was clear and convincing.  (Beltrami County)

Margaret MacRae, a trustee for the next-of-kin of Roderick MacRae, Appellant vs. Group Health Plan, Inc., et al., Respondents – Case No. A06-1982:  Roderick MacRae consulted a physician in January 2001 for a lesion on his left leg, which was diagnosed as a benign mole.  In October 2004, Mr. MacRae was found to have an inoperable metastatic malignant melanoma; review of the January 2001 biopsy showed that it had in fact been malignant and was likely the primary melanoma.  Mr. MacRae died in August 2005, and his wife Margaret commenced this litigation in February 2006, alleging medical malpractice.  Respondents (Mr. MacRae’s physician, pathologist, and their employers) moved to dismiss on grounds that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations applicable under Minn. Stat. § 541.076(b) (2006) to medical malpractice, that is, “four years from the date the cause of action accrued.”  Respondents argued that Mr. MacRae’s claim accrued at the time of the misdiagnosis in January 2001.  In opposition to the motion, Mrs. MacRae argued that her husband’s cause of action did not accrue until the cancer had progressed to the point that he more likely than not would not have survived, even with proper diagnosis and treatment, and that it should be left to the jury to decide when that occurred.  The suit was dismissed by the district court on grounds that Mr. MacRae’s claim of malpractice began to run at the time of the misdiagnosis.  The dismissal was affirmed by the court of appeals.  On appeal to the supreme court, the issue is whether Mr. MacRae’s cause of action for medical malpractice necessarily accrued in January 2001, when his condition was misdiagnosed, or whether the time at which the cause of action accrued was a question of fact to be determined at trial.  (Hennepin County)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

Courtroom 300, Minnesota Judicial Center

Rickford Rehmann Munger, Respondent vs. State of Minnesota, Appellant – Case No. A06-1563:  Respondent Rickford Munger was identified as the man who reached inside a woman’s bedroom window, moved the curtains aside, and peered through the window.  Munger pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary but, two years after sentencing, filed a petition for postconviction relief to withdraw his guilty plea.  Munger argued that he did not intend to commit a crime within the building and therefore the factual basis for his plea was inadequate.  Munger’s petition was denied without an evidentiary hearing, and the denial was affirmed by the court of appeals.  Two issues are before the supreme court:  (1) whether a conviction of first-degree burglary under Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 1(a) (2006), requires that a defendant who enters a residence without consent intend to commit a crime within the residence itself; and (2) whether the factual basis for Munger’s guilty plea was adequate.  (Olmsted County)

EN BANC NONORAL:  Philip Vance, petitioner, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A07-1552:  Appellant Philip Vance was convicted of first-degree murder; his conviction was affirmed on direct appeal.  State v. Vance, 714 N.W.2d 428 (Minn. 2006).  In 2007, Vance petitioned for postconviction relief, asserting ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel, newly discovered evidence and recantation of testimony by several witnesses, and prosecutorial misconduct.  The petition for postconviction relief was denied by the district court without an evidentiary hearing.  The issue for the supreme court is whether the district court abused its discretion by denying postconviction relief.  (Dakota County)

EN BANC NONORAL:  Randy Ronell Lynch, petitioner, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A07-1883:  Petitioner Randy Lynch was convicted of first-degree murder; his conviction was affirmed on direct appeal.  State v. Lynch, 590 N.W.2d 75 (Minn. 1999).  In 2007, Lynch petitioned for postconviction relief on the basis of the state’s failure to disclose all of the inducements offered to the witnesses who testified before the grand jury that indicted him.  The district court denied Lynch’s petition without an evidentiary hearing.  The issue for the supreme court is whether the district court abused its discretion by denying postconviction relief.  (Hennepin County)