Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court summarily denying Appellant's petition for postconviction relief, holding that the alleged facts, even when viewed in a light most favorable to Appellant, conclusively showed that he was entitled to no relief. Appellant was convicted of murder and attempted murder. Appellant later filed his postconviction petition alleging that several reversible errors were committed by the judge, prosecutor, and his counsel during his jury trial. The district court denied the petition without holding an evidentiary hearing and without addressing the ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's claims were procedurally barred by State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737 (Minn. 1976); and (2) the failure to address the ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim did not require a remand because the facts alleged conclusively showed that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claim. View "Zumberge v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the tax court reducing Hennepin County's valuation of a Lowe's store in Plymouth, Minnesota for the 2015 tax year, holding that the tax court did not inflate the property's fair market value and did not violate Lowe's due process rights. Lowe's petitioned the tax court asserting that Hennepin County's assessment for the 2015 tax year overstated the fair market value of the property. The tax court agreed and reduced the County's valuation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the tax court did not violate Lowe's due process rights by failing to rely on evidence in the record in reaching its conclusions; and (2) because the record supported the tax court's decision to place greater weight on the cost approach rather than on the sales approach and its adjustments under both approaches, the tax court did not violate Lowe's due process rights. View "Lowe's Home Centers, LLC (Plymouth) v. County of Hennepin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction for first-degree driving while impaired, holding that Officer Patrick Bendel of the Red Lake Police Department was acting within his proper authority when he detained Defendant and transported him to Beltrami County law enforcement. On appeal, Defendant challenged the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that all evidence obtained as a result of his arrest should be suppressed because Officer Bendel was not a "peace officer" as defined in Minn. Stat. 169A.03, subd. 18 and therefore could not legally arrest Defendant for driving while impaired. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Officer Bendel detained and investigated Defendant and ejected him from the Red Lake Reservation pursuant to the tribal authority to detain and remove recognized by federal courts; and (2) therefore, Defendant's detention was lawful. View "State v. Thompson" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court summarily denying Defendant's petition for postconviction relief, holding that the claims raised in the petition were procedurally barred and that the district court's failure to address Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel did not require a remand. Defendant was convicted of murder and attempted murder. Defendant later filed a petition for postconviction relief alleging that counsel, the judge, and the prosecutor committed reversible errors during trial. In a supporting memorandum, Defendant alleged an additional claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The district court denied the petition without a hearing and failed to address the ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's claims were barred by State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737 (Minn. 1976); and (2) the facts conclusively showed that Defendant was entitled to no relief on his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Zumberge v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's petition for postconviction relief asserting a claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, holding that Defendant's claim failed on the merits. In his petition for postconviction relief Defendant argued that his conviction for first-degree premeditated murder must be set aside based on ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The district court summarily dismissed Defendant's postconviction petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Defendant was entitled to no relief on his postconviction claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. View "Petersen v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that the officer formed a reasonable, articulable suspicion to make the traffic stop that led to Defendant's arrest. The officer informed Defendant that he had been stopped because the car's windshield was cracked and because it did not appear that Defendant had been wearing his seat belt. Defendant was subsequently charged with driving while impaired and violating his driver's license restriction. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the stop, alleging that the stop was unconstitutional. The district court denied the motion to suppress. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the officer was not justified in stopping Defendant for the crack in his windshield but that the evidence supported a conclusion that the officer had reasonable suspicion that Defendant was not wearing his seat belt. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, even if the officer's observation that Defendant was not wearing his seat belt was mistaken, the mistake was objectively reasonable under the circumstances. View "State v. Poehler" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first-degree felony murder, first-degree aggravated robbery, and possession of a firearm by an ineligible person related to a fatal shooting, holding that the district court did not clearly err by overruling Defendant's Batson objection to the State's peremptory challenge of a prospective juror. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in overruling his Batson objection to the State's peremptory challenge of the juror because the State's challenge was racially motivated and the proffered explanation for exercising the challenge was pretextual. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not clearly err in determining that the race-neutral reason for striking the juror was not a pretext for racial discrimination. View "State v. Adams" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the district court's decision denying Defendant's petition for postconviction relief asserting the invalidity of a test-refusal conviction under Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), and Johnson v. State, 916 N.W.2d 674 (Minn. 2018), holding that the district court properly placed the burden of proof on Defendant instead of the State. Birchfield announced the rule that, in the absence of a warrant or an exception to the warrant requirement, refusal to submit to a blood or urine test cannot be criminalized. Johnson made the rule retroactive. The district court denied Defendant's request for postconviction relief, concluding that he failed to prove there was no applicable exception to the warrant requirement. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the district court erred by placing the burden of proof on Defendant instead of the State. The Supreme Court reversed and announced a heightened pleading standard for Birchfield/Johnson postconviction proceedings, holding that the district court properly placed the burden of proof on Defendant. View "Fagin v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services (DHS) determining that Appellant was permanently disqualified from working in a capacity where he may have contact with people who access services from a DHS-licensed program, holding that Appellant's claims on appeal failed. After DHS discovered a 2002 child-protection report that Appellant had sexually abused his son sometime around 1998, Appellant was disqualified from employment as a residence manager at a DHS-licensed substance abuse treatment program. The court of appeals affirmed DHS's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's right to due process was not violated; (2) the Department of Human Services Background Studies Act, Minn. Stat. ch. 245C, does not create a permanent, irrebuttable presumption that DHS's decision was correct; and (3) Appellant was provided constitutionally sufficient notice of his rights under the Act. View "Jackson v. Commissioner of Human Services" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, holding that Defendant's allegations of error did not warrant reversal of his convictions. Specifically, the Court held (1) the admission of certain evidence did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution or the substantive requirements of Minn. Stat. 626A.42; (2) to the extent the challenged evidence violated Minn. R. Evid. 702 the error was harmless; (3) the district court did not clearly err when it determined that Defendant failed to make a prima facie showing of discrimination under step one of the Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), inquiry; and (4) Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct were without merit. View "State v. Harvey" on Justia Law