EN BANC CALENDAR
SUMMARY OF ISSUES
Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office
Monday, October 31, 2011
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
78th Street OwnerCo, LLC, Relator v. County of Hennepin, Respondent – Case No. A11-0128: Relator 78th Street OwnerCo owns a hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota. Relator filed petitions with the Minnesota Tax Court challenging the assessed value for the property for tax years 2008 and 2009. The tax court dismissed the petitions for failure to comply with the “60-day rule” established in Minn. Stat. § 278.05, subd. 6(a), which provides for dismissal of a property tax appeal if required information is not provided within 60 days of the filing deadline. In this case, the information at issue was related to leases, information regarding how rent was calculated, and rent rolls. The tax court allowed a motion for reconsideration and reaffirmed its initial decision.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the tax court erred when it determined that the lease in issue must be produced under the 60-day rule as the rule existed both before and after 2008 amendments to Minn. Stat. § 278.05, subd. 6(a); (2) whether the tax court erred when it interpreted Minn. Stat. § 278.05, subd. 6(a) (2008), to require relator to provide a rent roll for the subject property; (3) whether the tax court erred when it determined that percentage rent information must be produced by relator; and (4) whether the tax court’s interpretation of Minn. Stat. § 278.05, subd. 6(a) renders the statute unconstitutionally vague as applied to relator. (Minnesota Tax Court)
In re the Matter of: Kelli Rohmiller, et al., Appellants v. Andrew Hart, Respondent, and Jennifer Joseph, Guardian ad Litem – Case No. A10-1348: Appellant Kelli Rohmiller is the maternal aunt of a minor child whose mother has died. The child’s father, respondent Andrew Hart, was awarded custody of the child after the mother’s death. Rohmiller, along with the child’s maternal grandfather, petitioned the district court under Minn. Stat. § 257C.08 (2010) for visitation rights to the child. The district court awarded both Rohmiller and the child’s grandfather unsupervised visitation with the child, finding it was in the best interests of the child to continue to have a relationship with the late mother’s family. The court of appeals affirmed the district court with respect to the visitation awarded the grandfather but revered the district court’s award of visitation to Rohmiller.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether Minn. Stat. § 257C.08 allows the court to grant visitation to relatives of a deceased parent other than parents and grandparents of the deceased parent; and (2) whether the district court has the equitable power to grant visitation to a relative who has not lived with the child for two years, under Minn. Stat. § 257C.08, subd. 4. (Dakota County)
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
Kim Hansen, Appellant v. Robert Half International, Inc., Respondent – Case No. A10-1558: Appellant Kim Hansen worked for respondent Robert Half International, Inc., on the permanent-placement team. Before she gave birth to a child, Hansen submitted a leave-of-absence request form on which she completed the section related to requests for short-term medical, pregnancy, and workers’ compensation disability leave. Hanson did not fill out the section on this form related to requests for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Hansen also submitted a “personnel action form” and marked “maternity” under the type of leave she was requesting. Due to medical complications, Hansen extended her leave. Hansen completed a second personnel action form and again marked the box relating to maternity leave.
Hansen returned to work on December 1, 2008, after more than 13 weeks of leave. While Hansen was on leave, Robert Half decided to reduce the number of permanent-placement employees from 20 to 8. The day after Hansen returned to work, the branch manager met with Hansen and terminated her employment.
Hansen sued Robert Half, alleging sex discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minn. Stat. ch. 363A (2010) (MHRA), and a violation of the Minnesota Parenting Leave Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 181.940-.944 (2010) (MPLA), based on Robert Half’s failure to return her to her former position or a comparable one when she returned from leave. The district court granted Robert Half’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Hansen’s claims with prejudice. The court of appeals affirmed the district court.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether an employee is required to state that she is requesting leave under the MPLA in order to invoke that act; and (2) whether the district court erred in dismissing Hansen’s MHRA sex discrimination claim by concluding that Robert Half undertook a bona fide reduction in force as a matter of law. (Ramsey County)
Ben Braylock, Appellant v. Lucinda Jessen, Commissioner of Human Services and Hennepin County, Respondents – Case No. A10-1754: In 2006, appellant Ben Braylock was indeterminately civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person. In December 2008, Braylock petitioned the special review board for provisional or full discharge. The special review board denied Braylock’s petition. Braylock sought rehearing and reconsideration by a judicial appeal panel. A hearing before the panel was held on April 30, 2010. At the close of Braylock’s case, respondents moved for dismissal. In an August 6, 2010 order, the panel concluded that Braylock had not produced enough evidence to have the issue of discharge considered in this matter and granted the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed the panel’s order.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether Minn. Stat. § 253B.19, subd. 2(d), as amended effective August 1, 2010, applies to Braylock’s petition for discharge from indeterminate civil commitment. (Judicial Appeal Panel)
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Brandon Ryan Smith, Appellant – Case No. A10-0916: After a state trooper found a gun in appellant Brandon Smith’s car during a traffic stop, respondent State of Minnesota charged Smith with gross misdemeanor possession of a pistol without a permit and misdemeanor illegal transportation of a firearm. Smith filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the law enforcement officer improperly expanded the scope of the traffic stop when he asked Smith if he had any illegal drugs or weapons in the car and that the traffic stop expansion was unlawful because it was not supported by an articulable suspicion of additional criminal activity. The district court denied the motion to suppress. After a stipulated facts trial, the district court convicted Smith of both offenses. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of Smith’s motion to suppress.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the Minnesota Constitution requires that an officer have a particularized suspicion of additional criminal activity when he or she asks a driver during a traffic stop if there are any illegal drugs or guns in the car. (Dakota County)
In the Matter of: Michael S. Schmidt on behalf of P.M.S., Respondent v. Robert H. Coons, Appellant – Case No. A10-1425: In May 2010, respondent Michael Schmidt sought an order for protection (OFP) on behalf of his son, who at the time was living with his mother and his maternal grandfather, appellant Robert Coons. Schmidt alleged a past pattern of abuse by Coons against immediate family members. The OFP petition alleged that the boy’s mother “is unable to prevent the abuse” and requested temporary physical custody of the boy be given to Schmidt.
After a hearing on the OFP, the district court found that Coons had slapped the boy’s mother in the face during an argument. Although the court found none of the abuse had been directed toward the boy, the court expressed its concern that Coons could strike mother again in the boy’s presence or in a way that would be traumatizing to him. The court issued an OFP that prohibited Coons from “commit[ting] acts of domestic abuse against, or that adversely affect” the boy. The court of appeals affirmed the district court.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether Minn. Stat. § 518.01 (2010) requires a district court to find that domestic abuse has been committed against the particular person seeking the OFP or on whose behalf the OFP is sought in order for the district court to issue an OFP. (Crow Wing County)
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol
Wallace Beaulieu, Appellant v. Minnesota Department of Human Services, et al., Respondents – Case No. A10-1350: In 2006, appellant Wallace Beaulieu was indeterminately civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person and a sexual psychopathic personality. Beaulieu’s appointed counsel failed to file a timely notice of appeal from the district court’s commitment order. In 2009, Beaulieu filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that his appointed counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to appeal from his commitment order in a timely manner. The district court denied the petition. A divided court of appeals affirmed the district court.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees a person civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person or a sexual psychopathic personality the right to effective assistance of counsel through direct appeal of his or her civil commitment; and (2) whether a person civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person or a sexual psychopathic personality may petition for habeas corpus relief, based on a claim of a violation of the statutory right to effective assistance of counsel. (Carlton County)
Monday, November 7, 2011
Judicial Center, Courtroom 300
State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Craig Matthew Hohenwald, Appellant – Case No. A10-1986: Appellant Craig Hohenwald was convicted after a court trial of two counts of first-degree murder. On appeal from those convictions, five issues are presented: (1) whether the grand jury had the authority to indict Hohenwald for first-degree murder when proceedings under a previously filed complaint charging him with second-degree murder had been suspended pending a Rule 20 evaluation of Hohenwald’s competency; (2) whether Hohenwald is entitled to a new trial because the prosecutor attempted to impeach Hohenwald with statements he made during the Rule 20 evaluation; (3) whether Hohenwald is entitled to a new trial because a police officer testified that Hohenwald received a Miranda warning after being taken into custody; (4) whether Hohenwald is entitled to a new trial because the district court improperly admitted an out-of-court statement of a prosecution witness as a prior, consistent statement; and (5) whether the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hohenwald did not act in the heat of passion when he killed. (Kanabec County)
In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Angela Montgomery Montez, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 322192 – Case No. A11-0125: An attorney discipline case that presents the question of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based upon the facts of the matter.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Hamline University Law School
Andrea A. Schatz, Relator v. Interfaith Care Center and New Hampshire Insurance Company/Charitz, Respondents – Case No. A11-1171: Relator Andrea Schatz was injured while working for respondent Interfaith Care Center in Minnesota. Schatz later moved to Wyoming and received medical treatment for her injury in that state. Respondents paid for Schatz’s medical treatment in Wyoming according to the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Fee Schedule. Afterwards, the Wyoming medical providers billed Schatz for an unpaid balance of $7,198.36.
Schatz filed a medical request with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry seeking payment by respondents of the outstanding medical bills for treatment she received in Wyoming. Following a hearing, the compensation judge awarded the disputed benefits to Schatz. A divided Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals reversed.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issues presented are: (1) whether pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 176.136, subd. 1b(d) (2010), an employee who was injured in Minnesota is required to pay for usual and customary charges for medical expenses received in another state if those expenses would not be covered under the workers’ compensation fee schedule of that other state; and (2) whether Minn. Stat. § 176.136, subd. 1b(d), violates Schatz’s rights to equal protection or due process. (Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals)
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Judicial Center, Courtroom 300
State of Minnesota, Appellant v. Ronald Gene Fleck, Respondent – Case No. A10-0681: Appellant State of Minnesota charged respondent Ronald Fleck with second‑degree assault. During a jury trial, Fleck asked the district court to instruct the jury that an assault is either an intentional attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another (assault-harm) or the commission of an act done with the intent to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death in another (assault-fear). Fleck also requested that the jury be instructed on the defense of voluntary intoxication. The district court submitted four charges to the jury: (1) second-degree assault-harm, (2) second-degree assault-fear, (3) fifth-degree assault-harm, and (4) fifth-degree assault-fear. The court further instructed the jury that the voluntary-intoxication defense applied to assault-fear but not assault-harm. The jury found Fleck guilty of the assault-harm charges and not guilty of the assault-fear charges, and the district court convicted Fleck of second-degree assault-harm. The court of appeals reversed Fleck’s conviction.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether a voluntary-intoxication defense may be raised against a charge of assault based on the intentional infliction of bodily harm upon another. (Douglas County)
Non-Oral: 444 Lafayette, LLC and Meritex Enterprises, Inc., Relators v. County of Ramsey, Respondent – Case No. A11-1014: Relators own an office building in St. Paul, Minnesota. Relators filed petitions with the Minnesota Tax Court challenging the assessed value assigned to the property for tax years 2009, 2010, and 2011. After a trial, the tax court determined the market value of the property for the three tax years.
On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) whether the tax court’s decision is clearly erroneous because its findings regarding tenant improvements are not reasonably supported by the evidence and are contrary to law; and (2) whether the tax court’s valuation of the property was adequately explained and reasonably supported by the record as a whole. (Minnesota Tax Court)
Non-Oral: Robert Michael Hughes, petitioner, Appellant v. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. 11-0472: In 2006, appellant Robert Hughes was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree murder. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed that conviction on direct appeal. In January 2011, Hughes filed a petition for postconviction relief. The district court summarily denied the postconviction petition.
On appeal to the supreme court, the issue presented is whether the district court erroneously determined that the claims Hughes raised in his petition for postconviction relief were procedurally barred because they either were raised or could have been raised in his direct appeal. (Freeborn County)