EN BANC ORAL ARGUMENT

Before the Minnesota Supreme Court

April 2006

 

SUMMARY OF ISSUES

Summaries prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office

 

 

Monday, April 3, 2006, 9:00 a.m., Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

 

            State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Andre Robinson, Appellant – Case No. A04-840:  At appellant Andre Robinson’s trial on charges of third-degree assault, the victim recanted her allegation that Robinson had intentionally assaulted her.  The district court admitted the victim’s prior statements to a nurse that Robinson had assaulted her under the medical-diagnosis exception to the hearsay rule.  On appeal, the court of appeals held that the victim’s prior statements were not admissible under the medical-diagnosis exception but were admissible under the statement-of-identification exception.  The issues on appeal are:  (1) whether the victim’s statements were admissible under the medical‑diagnosis exception; and (2) whether the victim’s statements were admissible under the statement-of-identification exception.  (On appeal from Hennepin County District Court.)

 

            State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Brett Arnold Laine, Appellant – Case No. A03-1551:  On appeal from his conviction for first-degree domestic-abuse murder, appellant Brett Laine presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the jury instructions on lesser-included offenses were confusing and thus denied Laine a fair trial; (2) whether Laine was entitled to have the issue of whether he engaged in a pattern of past domestic abuse against the victim bifurcated from the issue of whether he killed the victim; and (3) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict.  (On appeal from St. Louis County District Court.)

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2006, 9:00 a.m., Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

 

            State of Minnesota, Appellant vs. Frank Eugene Holmes, Respondent – Case No. A04-1134:  Following his conviction for felony driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), respondent Frank Holmes was sentenced to 66 months, the presumptive sentence based on the severity of the offense and Holmes’ criminal history score of five.  The sentence was ordered to be served consecutive to a previously imposed sentence for gross misdemeanor driving while impaired.  The court of appeals vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing based on its determination that because Holmes was on probation at the time of the DUI offense, he was subject to mandatory consecutive sentencing under Minn. Stat. § 169A.028, subd. 1 (2002), and therefore consecutive sentencing was not a departure under the sentencing guidelines and a criminal history score of 1 should have been used to calculate the sentence.  The issues on appeal are:  (1) whether a criminal history score of one should be used to determine the mandatory consecutive sentence under Minn. Stat. § 169.28, subd. 1; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in remanding for resentencing rather than amending Holmes’ sentence.  (On appeal from Crow Wing County District Court.)

 

            State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Leroy R. Paul, Appellant – Case No. A05-789:  On appeal from his conviction for first-degree murder, appellant Leroy Paul presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the district court erred in denying Paul’s motion to suppress statements made during a custodial interrogation; (2) whether the district court erred in denying Paul’s motion to suppress recordings of Paul’s phone conversations while in jail; and (3) whether the prosecutor engaged in misconduct warranting a new trial.  (On appeal from Hennepin County District Court.)

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2006, 9:00 a.m., Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

 

            State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Clay Carl Clark, Appellant – Case No. A04-1101:  Appellant Clay Clark was charged with theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing a police officer, and unlawful possession of a firearm.  On the day of trial, the district court denied Clark’s request for a different public defender and granted Clark’s request to represent himself and discharge his public defender.  The following day, Clark sought to rescind his request to represent himself on the ground he believed he would have the assistance of standby counsel if he represented himself.  The district court denied Clark’s request.  Clark was convicted on all counts.  The court of appeals affirmed.  The issues on appeal are:  (1) whether the district court erred in denying Clark’s request for a different public defender; (2) whether Clark had a constitutional right to standby counsel; and (3) whether the district court erred in denying Clark’s request to rescind his request to represent himself.  (On appeal from Hennepin County District Court.)

 

            State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Ronald E. Cram, Appellant – Case Nos. CX-02-1178 & A05-1379:  On appeal from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief from his conviction for first-degree murder of his wife, appellant Ronald Cram presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the district court erred holding that Cram could not testify about statements his wife made to him about her brother in order to impeach the brother’s testimony because such statements were protected by spousal privilege; (2) whether the district court erred in barring Cram from asking a state’s witness about her sexual orientation for the purpose of establishing bias; (3) whether the district court erred in excluding testimony from a priest who counseled Cram and his wife under the priest-penitent privilege; (4) whether the district court erred in denying the petition for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing; and (5) whether Cram received ineffective assistance of counsel.  (On appeal from Ramsey County District Court.)

 

Thursday, April 6, 2006, 9:00 a.m., Supreme Court Courtroom, State Capitol

 

            Fin Ag, Inc., Respondent vs. Hufnagle, Inc., n/k/a P & H Trucking, et al., Defendants, Kent Meschke Poultry Farms, Inc., Appellant – Case No. A04-2176:  Appellant Kent Meschke Poultry Farms, Inc. (Meschke) purchased grain from several intermediaries.  The grain was subject to a lien recorded by respondent Fin Ag against the producer of the grain in the state’s Central Notification System.  No financing statement was recorded under the intermediaries’ names and Meschke denied having actual knowledge of the lien until Fin Ag filed suit to enforce its lien.  The district court granted Fin Ag summary judgment and the court of appeals affirmed.  The issues on appeal are:  (1) whether Fin Ag may assert a claim against grain Meschke purchased from the intermediaries where Fin Ag never recorded a financing statement against the intermediaries; and (2) whether Fin Ag had a perfected security interest in the grain at the time of Meschke’s purchase of the grain.  (On appeal from Morrison County District Court.)

 

            In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Gary K. Wood, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 118722 – Case No. A05-389Attorney discipline matter that presents the issue of what discipline, if any, is appropriate based upon the facts of the matter.

           

            NONORAL:  Roger Lindbo Schleicher, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case Nos. A04-1892 & A05-1348:  On appeal from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief from his conviction for first-degree murder, appellant Roger Lindbo Schleicher presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether Schleicher received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel on direct appeal; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict; (3) whether the district court erred in denying the petition for postconviction relief without a hearing; (4) whether Schleicher was denied the right to counsel of his choice; (5) whether Schleicher was denied the right to testify in his own defense; and (6) whether Schleicher was denied due process by the exclusion of an expert evaluation related to Schleicher’s mental-illness defense.  (On appeal from Steele County District Court.)

 

Monday April 10, 2006, 9:00 a.m., Minnesota Judicial Center, Courtroom 300

 

            State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Daniel James Valtierra, Appellant – Case No. A05-919:  On appeal from his conviction on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder, appellant Daniel Valtierra presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the district court erred in instructing the jury that it could consider evidence of Valtierra’s flight as proof of guilty intent; (2) whether the district court erred in its jury instructions; (3) whether the district court erred in admitting testimony from a police officer regarding Valtierra’s intent; (4) whether the district court erred allowing the state to impeach Valtierra with a prior conviction; and (5) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict.  (On appeal from Ramsey County District Court.)

 

            State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Darryl Colbert, Appellant – Case No. A05-855:  On appeal from his conviction for first-degree murder, appellant Darryl Colbert presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict; (2) whether the district court erred in denying Colbert’s motion to dismiss based on a discovery violation by the state during trial; (3) whether the prosecutor engaged in misconduct warranting a new trial.  (On appeal from Hennepin County District Court.)

 

            NONORAL:  Hanifi Marlow Jihad, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A05-2145:  On appeal from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief from his conviction for first-degree murder, appellant Hanifi Marlow Jihad presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the district court erred in denying the petition as untimely; (2) whether the issues raised in the petition were procedurally barred because they were known at the time of Jihad’s direct appeal; and (3) whether Jihad received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel in his direct appeal.  (On appeal from Hennepin County District Court.)

 

Tuesday, April 11, 2006, 9:00 a.m., Minnesota Judicial Center, Courtroom 300

 

            State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Richard McFee, Appellant – Case No. A05-283:  In calculating appellant’s criminal history score for sentencing purposes, the district court assigned a juvenile point for a prior juvenile delinquency adjudication and a custody-status point based on the fact that McFee was on probation at the time of the current offense.  On appeal, McFee challenged his sentence on the ground the prior delinquency adjudication and probation status had not been proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore the prior adjudication could not be used to enhance his sentence under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), because a prior juvenile delinquency adjudication is not a prior conviction exempt from Blakely.  The court of appeals affirmed.  The issues on appeal are:  (1) whether Blakely entitles a defendant to have a jury determine the existence of a prior juvenile delinquency adjudication; and (2) whether Blakely entitles a defendant to have a jury determine whether the offense occurred while the defendant was on probation if probationary status will enhance the sentence.  (On appeal from Ramsey County District Court.)

 

            The State of Minnesota, by Hubert H. Humphrey, III, its then Attorney General, Appellant, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Plaintiff vs. Philip Morris USA, Inc., Respondent, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., Respondents, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, et al., Defendants, A.H. Hermel Candy & Tobacco Co., et al., intervenors, Respondents, Council of Independent Tobacco Manufacturers of America, intervenor, Respondent, Commonwealth Brands, Inc., intervenor, Respondent – Case No. A05-2540:  Respondents, tobacco manufacturers who were parties to a 1998 settlement of the state’s tobacco litigation and the distributors of cigarettes made by the settling manufacturers, filed a motion seeking to enforce the settlement agreement.  Respondents asserted that the 2005 Health Impact Fee (fee) imposed by the legislature on the distribution of cigarettes is a “released claim” under the settlement agreement and therefore could not be enforced against them.  The Council of Tobacco Manufacturers of America (CTMA) and Commonwealth Brands, a manufacturer not a party to the settlement agreement, intervened in the suit and asserted that if the fee could not be imposed on the products of the settling manufacturers, it could not be imposed on the products of nonsettling manufacturers.  The district court ruled that the fee violated the settlement agreement and invalidated the fee with respect to the settling manufacturers.  The district court also ruled that the fee could not be applied to nonsettling manufacturers under the Uniform Taxation Clause of the state constitution.  The supreme court granted the State’s petition for accelerated review.  The issues on appeal are:  (1) whether the 1998 settlement bars application of the fee to products of the settling manufacturers; and (2) if so, whether application of the fee to products of nonsettling manufacturers violates the state constitution.  (On appeal from Ramsey County District Court.)

 

            Mwati P. McKenzie, Appellant vs. State of Minnesota, Respondent – Case No. A05-1526:  On appeal from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief from his conviction for first-degree murder, appellant Mwati McKenzie presents the following issues for review:  (1) whether the district court erred in holding that McKenzie was not entitled to retroactive application of Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004), to his 1993 conviction; and (2) whether the district court erred in denying McKenzie’s claim for restitution of monies withheld from his prison income on the ground the claim was not properly before the court.  (On appeal from Hennepin County District Court.)

 

Wednesday, April 12, 2006, 9:30 a.m., Minneapolis South High School

 

            Marcus Robert Urban, a minor, et al., by and through their parent and natural guardian, Todd Michael Urban, and Todd Michael Urban, individually, Appellants vs. The American Legion Department of Minnesota, Respondent, The American Legion and its Subdivisions, Respondents – Case No. A04-1409:  Appellant Todd Urban filed a Civil Damages Act suit against the local American Legion that made an illegal sale of alcohol to a nonmember who was involved in a car accident that killed Urban’s wife and left two of his sons permanently disabled.  Urban also sued respondents American Legion Department of Minnesota (State Legion) and The American Legion (National Legion) on a theory of vicarious liability.  The district court granted the State Legion’s and the National Legion’s motions for summary judgment.  The court of appeals affirmed.  The issue on appeal is whether a parent organization may be held vicariously liable for an illegal sale of alcohol by a subsidiary organization under the Civil Damages Act.  (On appeal from Goodhue County District Court.)