EN BANC CALENDAR
SUMMARY OF ISSUES
Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Lincoln Lamar Caldwell, Appellant – Case Nos. A08-1529, A09-2279, A10-1752: After a jury trial, appellant Lincoln Caldwell was convicted of aiding and abetting first-degree premeditated murder for the benefit of a gang and sentenced to life in prison. Caldwell’s appeal of his conviction was stayed in order to allow Caldwell to pursue postconviction relief. Caldwell filed two petitions for postconviction relief with the district court; the district court denied both postconviction petitions. Caldwell’s appeals of his conviction and of the orders denying postconviction relief were consolidated on appeal.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether Caldwell can be convicted under an aiding-and-abetting theory when the principal whose shooting Caldwell aided and abetted was acquitted of first-degree premeditated murder before Caldwell’s trial; (2) whether there was sufficient evidence to prove that the murder was premeditated; (3) whether there was sufficient evidence to prove that the murder was committed for the benefit of a gang; (4) whether Caldwell was denied his right to effective assistance of counsel; and (5) whether the district court erred in denying Caldwell’s request in his second postconviction petition for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence without holding an evidentiary hearing. (Hennepin County)
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of: R.S. and L.S., Parents – Case No. A10-1390: This is a child protection matter involving one child who is eligible for membership in respondent White Earth Band of Ojibwe (“the Tribe”) and whose father is a member of the Tribe. Respondent Fillmore County filed an expedited petition for termination of parental rights shortly after the child was born, and the child was placed in third-party foster care. The Tribe intervened in the proceedings, but did not seek transfer of the proceedings to its tribal court. The district court terminated the parents’ parental rights and ordered that the child be placed under the legal custody and guardianship of the Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services for permanent placement.
Approximately six weeks after parental rights were terminated, the Tribe filed a motion to transfer the case to its tribal court and to dismiss the state court proceeding. Appellant guardian ad litem opposed the motion. The district court transferred the case to the White Earth Tribal Court and dismissed its own proceedings after the tribal court accepted jurisdiction of the matter. The court of appeals affirmed the district court.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the federal Indian Child Welfare Act allows for transfer of preadoptive placement proceedings involving an Indian child to tribal court; and (2) if not, whether the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the Juvenile Court Act, or the Minnesota Rules of Juvenile Protection Procedure provide for transfer of preadoptive placement proceedings to tribal court. (Fillmore County)
Non-Oral: Continental Retail, LLC, Relator v. County of Hennepin, Respondent – Case No. A11-345: Relator Continental Retail, LLC, owns a multi-tenant retail center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Continental filed three petitions with the Minnesota Tax Court challenging the estimated market value that the Hennepin County Assessor had assigned to the property for property tax assessment dates in 2006, 2007, and 2008. After a trial, the tax court determined the market value of the property as of the three assessment dates.
On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the tax court erred by admitting the County’s expert’s report into evidence and according weight to the County’s expert’s sales comparison method; and (2) whether the tax court erred when it determined that the market value of the property was higher than the assessed estimated market value of the property. (Tax Court)
Monday, June 6, 2011
Judicial Center, Courtroom 300
Elaine M. Wesely, Appellant v. A. David Flor, DDS, et al., Respondents – Case No. A10-478: On February 24, 2009, appellant Elaine Wesely commenced a dental malpractice action against respondents A. David Flor, DDS, and A. David Flor, DDS, d/b/a Uptown Dental. A plaintiff alleging a claim of medical malpractice against a health care provider is required by Minn. Stat. § 145.682, to serve an affidavit of expert review along with a summons and complaint. The statute also requires such a plaintiff to serve an affidavit of expert disclosure within 180 days after commencement of suit.
Wesley served an affidavit of expert review along with her summons and complaint. On June 1, 2009, Wesely’s attorney withdrew for financial reasons. On August 12, 2009, acting pro se, Wesely served an affidavit of expert disclosure that identified her internal medicine doctor as the expert who would testify at trial. Wesely concedes that her internal medicine doctor was not qualified to give an expert opinion in her case.
On September 11, 2009, respondents filed a motion to dismiss. By this time, Wesely had obtained new counsel. On October 16, 2009, Wesely served an affidavit of expert disclosure from a new expert and opposed the motion to dismiss on the grounds that the second affidavit of expert disclosure cured the deficiencies in the first affidavit. Wesely claimed that her new expert’s affidavit was timely because it was filed within the 45-day safe-harbor provision of Minn. Stat. § 145.682, subd. 6(c) (2010). The district court dismissed Wesely’s action with prejudice based on its conclusion that section 145.682, subdivision 6(c), does not allow a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action to amend a deficient affidavit by substituting a new expert’s affidavit. The court of appeals affirmed the district court.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether Minn. Stat. § 145.682 allows a plaintiff to correct a deficient affidavit of expert disclosure by providing a substitute affidavit of expert disclosure from a different expert.
Non-Oral: Berry and Co., Inc., Relator v. County of Hennepin, Respondent – Case No. A11-399: Relator Berry and Co., Inc., owns property in the City of Wayzata. Berry filed two petitions with the Minnesota Tax Court challenging the Hennepin County Assessor’s estimated market value for the property for property tax assessment dates in 2007 and 2008. After a trial, the tax court determined the market value of the property as of the two assessment dates.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the tax court erred in adopting the County’s opinion that the property was developable, despite the zoning restrictions that apply to the property; and (2) whether the tax court’s decision was sufficiently supported by the facts. (Tax Court)
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Judicial Center, Courtroom 300
State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Mahdi Hassan Ali, Appellant – Case No. A10-1737: Appellant Mahdi Ali was indicted by a grand jury on six counts of first-degree murder for the shooting death of three men in Minneapolis on January 6, 2010. Ali is a Somali refugee who was born in Kenya. Respondent State of Minnesota contended that Ali’s birthday was January 1, 1993, and that he was 17 years old at the time of the murders.
The criminal proceedings against Ali were held in district court. Ali filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of jurisdiction, claiming that he was 15 years old at the time of the offenses and that the juvenile court therefore had jurisdiction over him. After holding an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied Ali’s motion. It found that the State had proved that Ali had reached his sixteenth birthday before the date of the alleged murders by a clear preponderance of evidence.
Ali appealed the district court’s order denying his motion to dismiss to the court of appeals. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal. The supreme court reversed the court of appeals, ruling that Ali could appeal the district court’s order denying his motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds without awaiting a final judgment. In addition, the supreme court exercised its authority to accelerate review under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 118 to consider the merits of the appeal without remand for a decision by the court of appeals.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the State is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a juvenile was 16 years old or older on the date of the alleged offense when a juvenile charged with first-degree murder challenges the subject-matter jurisdiction of the district court; and (2) whether applying a preponderance of the evidence standard to the jurisdictional question of a juvenile’s age on the date of the offense satisfies due process requirements.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 10:00 a.m.
Judicial Center, Courtroom 300
Inquiry into the Conduct of the Honorable Patricia Kerr Karasov – Case No. A10-1746: The Board on Judicial Standards filed a complaint for Disciplinary Action against the Honorable Patricia Kerr Karasov, Judge of Hennepin County District Court. After an evidentiary hearing, a three-person hearing panel appointed under the Rules of the Board on Judicial Standards found that Judge Karasov violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by failing to cooperate and be candid and honest with respect to the Board’s investigation and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Minnesota Constitution by living outside her judicial district for a period of three months. The panel recommended to the supreme court discipline of public censure and a 90-day suspension.
Both Judge Karasov and the Board appealed to the supreme court. The issues before the court include whether the evidence was sufficient to prove the violations, whether procedural violations deprived Judge Karasov of due process, and whether the recommended sanctions are too severe or too lenient.