Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Minneapolis DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Freeman, (Decided January 20, 2020, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that when it comes to the right to counsel prior to testing, "no" means "no".

In Freeman, an officer in Stearns County observed a black car fail to stop for a stop sign.  After pulling over the vehicle, the officer encountered Mr. Freeman in the driver's seat of the car.  Mr. Freeman smelled of alcohol, was slurring his speech and the back seat of his vehicle was full of beer.

After performing field sobriety tests, Mr. Freeman was placed under arrest and was read the Minnesota Implied Consent advisory in the back seat of the squad. Mr. Freeman was told he had that right to talk to an attorney prior to testing and was asked by the officer if he wished to consult with a lawyer.

Mr. Freeman told the officer, “I’m gonna contact [an attorney] but it ain’t gonna be tonight.” The officer read the advisory once more and asked again whether Freeman wanted to consult with an attorney, and Freeman said that he was not going to talk to an attorney at that moment. He said, “I don’t need to contact one beforehand” and “I will talk to one afterwards.”

The officer asked one last time, “[d]o you wish to consult with an attorney? Yes or No?” and Freeman responded, “[a]t this moment, no. Not before that.” Then the officer offered him one last chance to take the test and Freeman said no. The officer recorded Freeman’s test refusal and took him to jail.

The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence of his  test refusal on the grounds that his right to counsel prior to testing was not vindicated.  The District Court denied the motion to suppress and on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed, stating: 

"Here, the officer read Freeman the implied-consent advisory, thereby triggering his limited right to counsel. During their subsequent conversation, Freeman stated that he was going to be talking to an attorney but not in that moment or that night, noting that he wanted to contact an attorney he had worked with before."

"When a driver expresses his interest in consulting with an attorney, the officer must either clarify the driver’s request or vindicate that right by providing a phone and an opportunity for consultation. State v. Slette, 585 N.W.2d 407, 410 (Minn. App. 1998). And courts consider the totality of the circumstances in determining whether the right to consult counsel was vindicated. Groe v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 615 N.W.2d 837, 841 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. Sept. 13, 2000)."

"Here, the transcript shows that the officer tried to clarify whether Freeman was invoking this right. The officer demonstrated this through his follow-up questions and efforts to confirm Freeman’s wishes. And Freeman ultimately stated that he did not want to consult an attorney before making his decision not to submit to chemical testing. By doing so, Freeman declined to exercise his limited right to consult with an attorney."

Moral Of The Story:  A right is only good if you exercise it.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.






Monday, January 13, 2020

Minneapolis DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Gardner (Decided January 13, 2020, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that sometimes you are better off without an expert.

In Gardner, the Defendant was arrested for DWI after having a minor traffic accident.  Her blood test result was a .137% alcohol concentration level and she chose to take the case to trial.  

The state called four witnesses in its case-in-chief: two state troopers, who investigated the collision and observed Gardner’s behavior; a forensic scientist employed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), who tested Gardner’s blood sample; and one of the other drivers involved in the collision. One of the state troopers testified that he provided an HCMC phlebotomist with a BCA-approved blood-draw kit. The BCA forensic scientist testified on cross-examination that she did not know the procedures used by the HCMC phlebotomist who drew Gardner’s blood sample.

After the state rested its case, Gardner called only one witness, Thomas Burr, who was qualified as an expert witness on the subject of forensic toxicology. Burr questioned the circumstances and procedures of the blood draw, including the credentials of the HCMC phlebotomist who drew Gardner’s blood and the equipment used, facts that Burr testified are “essential... to ensure that it’s an accurate sample.” Burr testified that he did not know whether the phlebotomist used an alcohol-based swab or an appropriate needle or whether the collection tubes were sterile and intact. He testified that the blood-test results could be inaccurate if the phlebotomist who drew the blood sample was not qualified, did not use an appropriate needle, used an alcohol-based swab, or used a compromised collection tube. He further testified that the blood-test result could be unreliable because the blood sample took six days to reach the BCA by mail.

After Gardner rested her case, the state called the phlebotomist as a rebuttal witness. Gardner objected, arguing that the phlebotomist’s testimony was not proper rebuttal evidence and would be unfairly prejudicial. The prosecutor explained that the phlebotomist’s testimony would rebut Burr’s expert testimony, which had emphasized the absence of testimony by the phlebotomist. The district court overruled Gardner’s objection on the ground that rebuttal testimony was appropriate. The phlebotomist testified about her qualifications, the procedures she followed during the blood draw, and the equipment she used during the blood draw, including the fact that she used a non-alcohol-based swab and a needle smaller than that provided in the BCA-approved blood-draw kit.

The Defendant was convicted of DWI and on appeal asserted the district court was wrong to allow the phlebotomist to testify as a rebuttal witness.  The Minnesota Court of Appeals, however, disagreed noting:

"The subject of rebuttal evidence is governed by a rule of criminal procedure: “The prosecutor may rebut the defense evidence, and the defense may rebut the prosecutor’s evidence.” Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.03, subd. 12(g). Rebuttal evidence offered by the state is defined as evidence that “explains, contradicts, or refutes the defendant’s evidence.” State v. Swaney, 787 N.W.2d 541, 563 (Minn. 2010)"

While Gardner contended that "the district court erred on the ground that the state generally may present rebuttal evidence only after [a defendant has] presented unexpected testimony in his or her case" the Court of Appeals in its decision points out that "surprise" is not a requirement of rebuttal.
***
"Gardner further contends that the state did not have a “good reason” to withhold the testimony of the phlebotomist during its case-in-chief and that the state attempted to “game the order of trial in order to gain a strategic advantage.” She further contends that her trial attorney, when developing trial strategy, relied on the state’s decision not to call the phlebotomist in its case-in-chief. These contentions appear to assume that the state has an obligation to introduce all of the evidence it possesses during its case-in-chief, or that the state has an obligation to foresee or predict the evidence that a defendant will introduce during the defense case. To the contrary, the rule and the caselaw allow the state to listen to the defendant’s evidence and assess its persuasiveness and then consider offering rebuttal evidence. The key question is whether the state’s proffered rebuttal evidence “explains, contradicts, or refutes the defendant’s evidence.” Swaney, 787 N.W.2d at 563. In this case, the state’s rebuttal evidence satisfies that test. "

In this case, the phlebotomist was listed by the state as a possible trial witness.  When the state failed to call said witness in its case-in-chief, it should have been obvious they were holding back, waiting for the defense expert to testify.  A better move would have been to cross-examine the BCA expert concerning potential problems with the blood draw and then rest without calling any witnesses.

Moral Of The Story: Sometimes less is more.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Minnesota DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Cruz (decided December 30, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that disclosure of a urine sample test result to the district court, obtained pursuant to a jail booking procedure, does not violate the Minnesota Data Privacy Act.  (Why it does not violate the Fourth Amendment or Article I, Section 10 of the Minnesota Constitution is beyond me but it does not appear the defense raised a constitutional objection).

In Cruz, the Defendant was arrested for driving after his license had been cancelled.  Mr. Cruz was taken to the Nobles County Jail where, as a part of the booking procedure, he was asked to submit to a urine test.  The test result revealed the presence of methamphetamine.  The jail informed the arresting deputy of the test result and the deputy then applied for a search warrant to obtain a sample of the Defendant's blood.

The district court issued the search warrant, and the blood sample confirmed the presence of methamphetamine in Defendant's system. The Defendant was subsequently charged with one count of gross misdemeanor driving after cancelation—IPS, and one count of misdemeanor driving while under the influence of a controlled substance.

The Defendant filed a Motion to Suppress the blood test result arguing arguing that the search warrant was invalid because it “was based solely on private medical data which was improperly disclosed by jail staff to an investigating police officer during the course of a criminal investigation.” The district court determined that data stemming from a “urine sample collected as part of the booking process is ‘corrections and detention data’” under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA). The district court also determined that although this corrections and detention data is classified as private under the MGDPA, see Minn. Stat. § 13.85, subd. 2, it “may be released to law enforcement if necessary for law enforcement purposes” under Minn. Stat. § 13.85, subd. 5. The district court, therefore, denied appellant’s motion to suppress because the results of the urine test were “appropriately reported to law enforcement.”

On appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the district court noting:

"The MGDPA “regulates the collection, creation, storage, maintenance, dissemination, and access to government data in government entities.” Minn. Stat. § 13.01, subds. 1, 3. A government entity is “a state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision.” Minn. Stat. § 13.02, subd. 7a. The MGDPA differentiates between “data on individuals” and “data not on individuals.” See Minn. Stat. § 13.02, subds. 4, 5. “After the initial classification as either data on individuals or not on individuals, the data is categorized as either public, private, or confidential.” Int 7 Bhd. Of Elec Workers, Local No. 292 v. City of St. Cloud, 765 N.W.2d 64, 66 (Minn. 2009). Public data on individuals is accessible to the public. Minn. Stat. § 13.02, subd. 15. Private data on individuals is data which is made not public by statute or federal law, but is accessible to the subject of the data. Minn. Stat. § 13.02, subd. 12. Confidential data on individuals is data made not public by statute or federal law, and is not accessible to the individual subject of that data. Minn. Stat. § 13.02, subd. 3. While private data and confidential data generally may not be disclosed to the public, private data may be disclosed as specficially authorized by law. Minn. Stat. § 13.05, subd. 4(b)."

"Under Minn. Stat. § 13.85, subd. 2, certain “corrections and detention data on individuals are classified as private.” “Corrections and detention data” is data on individuals that is “created, collected, used or maintained because of their lawful confinement or detainment in state reformatories, prisons and correctional facilities, municipal or county jails, lockups, workhouses, work farms and all other correctional and detention facilities.” Minn. Stat. § 13.85, subd. 1. Corrections and detention data may be released “to any law enforcement agency, if necessary for law enforcement purposes, or to the victim of a criminal act where the data are necessary for the victim to assert the victim’s legal right to restitution.” Minn. Stat. § 13.85, subd. 5. And Minn. Stat. § 13.85, subd. 4 provides that “[a]fter any presentation to a court, any data made private or confidential by this section shall be public to the extent reflected in court records.”

"Here, the parties agree that the test results from the urine sample collected at the county jail are private “corrections and detention data” within the meaning of the MGDPA. Appellant appears to concede that the jail was authorized to release the results of the urine test to the deputy for “law enforcement purposes” under section 13.85, subdivision 5. But appellant argues that because the district court “is part of the judiciary,” which is separate and distinct from law enforcement, the deputy lacked authority under the MGDPA to release appellant’s urine-test results to the court in the warrant application. ***

"Construing section 13.85 as a whole, and its words and sentences in light of their context, we conclude that the disclosure of appellant’s urine-test results to the district court in the search-warrant affidavit did not violate the MGDPA. Although appellant’s urine-test results are private corrections and detention data under Minn. Stat. § 13.85, subd. 2, these results may be released “to any law enforcement agency, if necessary for law enforcement purposes.” Minn. Stat. § 13.85, subd. 5. A search warrant serves a law enforcement purpose."

"Additionally, subdivision 4 of the statute provides that “[a]fter any presentation to a court, any data made private ... by this section shall be public to the extent reflected in court records.” Id., subd. 4. The fact that Minn. Stat. § 13.85, subd. 4 contemplates that private data under section 13.85 may be presented to a court indicates that private corrections and detention data may be disclosed by law enforcement to the district court “for law enforcement purposes” without violating the MGDPA. And the provision in subdivision 4 that the private corrections and detention data becomes public only “to the extent reflected in court records” demonstrates that the filing of private data with the courts is not the same as disclosing private data to the public and is permitted by the MGDPA."
***
"As the state points out, if the MGDPA precludes law enforcement from filing private corrections and detention data with the courts in a search-warrant application, then law enforcement would also be precluded from disclosing criminal investigative data to the courts. See Minn. Stat. § 13.82, subd. 7 (“[I]nvestigative data collected or created by a law enforcement agency in order to prepare a case against a person, whether known or unknown, for the commission of a crime ... for which the agency is the primary investigative responsibility are confidential or protected nonpublic while the investigation is active.”). If that were the case, then law enforcement would be severely hampered in obtaining search warrants and investigating crimes."

The district court's judgement was, therefore, affirmed. But I  do not understand why the defense did not raise a constitutional challenge to the search.  It is well established that a jail can conduct intrusive searches to prevent contraband from being introduced into their facility.  But what is the justification for taking a person's urine without probable cause? I don't get it.

Moral Of The Story:  Urine is now data.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.





Monday, December 23, 2019

Minnesota DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Redday (Decided December 23, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that if a prosecutor is not careful, he can turn a Felony DWI into a misdemeanor.

In Redday, the Defendant was arrested for felony DWI and was charged with four counts of DWI in the First Degree.  Ms. Redday had a South Dakota felony DWI conviction from 1997 and she also had prior dwi convictions from 2013, 2011, 2008 and 2008.

Ms. Redday was charged in Counts I and II of the current complaint with a felony for being arrested for DWI with three priors within the past ten years.  She was also charged with felony DWI in Counts II and IV of the complaint because of her prior felony South Dakota DWI. (In Minnesota, once you have a felony DWI any further DWI will also be a felony, no matter how old the prior offense).

The Defendant stipulated to her prior offenses to keep them from the jury.  The prosecutor then decided to dismiss Counts I & III and proceeded to trial only on Counts II & IV.

The Defendant was convicted and prior to sentencing, the state notified the district court and Redday that the presentence investigator had questioned whether “Redday’s prior South Dakota felony conviction qualifies as a prior felony conviction.”

The Defendant was sentenced for Felony DWI and on appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed, noting:

"The complaint in this case alleged that counts one and three were felonies because Redday “committed the violation within ten years of the first of three or more qualified prior impaired driving incidents.” The complaint alleged that counts two and four were felonies because Redday “was previously convicted of felony-level Driving While Under the Influence on or about October 29, 1997 in Roberts County, South Dakota.” However, the state points out that all four counts of the complaint reference Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(1), as the charging statute, which provides for felony enhancement based on the existence of three or more qualified prior impaired driving incidents. The state asserts that those references determine the offenses of conviction. Specifically, the state argues that “nowhere in the charging instrument was [Redday] charged with a violation of [Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(2)].” For the reasons that follow, we disagree."

"The purpose of a complaint is to “apprise the defendant of the charge for which [she] is being held and tried.” State v. Clark, 134 N.W.2d 857, 866-67 (Minn. 1965). “For each count, the indictment or complaint must cite the statute, rule, regulation, or other provision of law the defendant allegedly violated.” Minn. R. Crim. P. 17.02, subd. 3. Thus, in determining what charges the state has brought against a defendant, courts should rely upon the language of a complaint rather than the actual statutory citations contained in it. See State v. DeVerney, 592 N.W.2d 837, 847 (Minn. 1999) (discussing indictment)."

"The description of the offenses charged in counts one and three of the complaint indicate that those charges were based on Redday’ s 2008,2011, and 2013 out-of-state DWI convictions. Counts one and three therefore set forth charges under Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(1), the felony-enhancement provision based on three or more qualified prior impaired driving incidents within ten years. But the district court granted the state’s motion to dismiss counts one and three before trial, leaving counts two and four of the complaint for trial. The description of the offenses charged in counts two and four of the complaint indicate that those charges were based on Redday’s 1997 felony-level South Dakota DWI conviction. Counts two and four therefore set forth charges under Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(2), the felony-enhancement provision based on a prior felony DWI conviction. Indeed, the state admits that “[a]s demonstrated by the charging language under Counts II and IV, [it] had intended to cite to [Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(2)].” Consistent with that admission, the district court stated that the two counts remaining for trial were “felony counts because of a prior felony conviction.”
***
"Redday does not argue that the evidence was insufficient to prove the elements of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, the underlying DWI statute. Instead, Redday argues that the evidence was insufficient to prove that she had previously been convicted of a felony DWI, as required under Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(2). Redday stipulated that she had a “conviction on October 29, 1997 for felony DWI” and to the district court’s receipt of a certified copy of her 1997 South Dakota conviction. But Redday asserts that her 1997 South Dakota conviction does not satisfy the requirement of Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(2), because she “was convicted of [a] felony driving under the influence offense under a South Dakota statute, and not under section 169A.24.” See Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(2) (referring to a previous felony conviction “under this section” (emphasis added)). Redday also asserts that the conduct underlying her 1997 South Dakota DWI conviction would not constitute a felony DWI under Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(2). The state does not challenge either of Redday’s assertions. Based on our review of the relevant statutes, we agree that Redday’s 1997 South Dakota conviction is not a felony DWI “under [Minn. Stat. § 169A.24].” See id."

Moral Of The Story: To use a prior felony to enhance a DWI, the felony must be a prior MINNESOTA felony as set forth in Minnesota Statute §169A.24.



If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.



Monday, December 16, 2019

Minneapolis DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is Schreyer v. Commissioner of Public Safety (Decided December 16, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that the Appellate Court does not know what constitutes a "seizure".

In Schreyer, the Petitioner became stuck in the snow while behind the wheel of a van.  A New Ulm police officer had been helping other stranded cars deal with approximately one foot of snow when he came upon the Petitioner's vehicle.

Two people were standing just ahead of the van and the Petitioner was sitting in the van’s driver’s seat. The van was still running. The people ahead of the van appeared to be trying to attach a tow rope to the van from a truck parked in front of it. Concerned that the van was a hazard to oncoming traffic, the officer turned on his rear emergency lights and parked nearby in the street.

The officer walked up to see if the people needed any help. He went to the driver’s side door of the van and tapped on the window, trying to get Schreyer’s attention. But Schreyer avoided all eye contact, staring ahead with both hands firmly on the steering wheel. The officer then went to the front of the van and tried tapping the windshield. And Schreyer turned his head away, seemingly trying to avoid eye contact with the officer. Noting this, the officer became concerned for the driver’s welfare and tapped on the driver’s window again. Schreyer did not respond.

The officer walked up to see if the people needed any help. He went to the driver’s side door of the van and tapped on the window, trying to get Schreyer’s attention. But Schreyer avoided all eye contact, staring ahead with both hands firmly on the steering wheel. The officer then went to the front of the van and tried tapping the windshield. And Schreyer turned his head away, seemingly trying to avoid eye contact with the officer. Noting this, the officer became concerned for the driver’s welfare and tapped on the driver’s window again. Schreyer did not respond.

The Petitioner's driver's license was subsequently revoked and he filed a challenge to the revocation arguing that the was unlawfully seized when the officer opened the door of his van.  The district court upheld the license revocation and on appeal the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed holding that: (1) no seizure occurred and, even if it did, (2) the seizure was lawful.

The Court of Appeals conclusion that no seizure occurred does not make any sense.  The Court correctly states:

"A person is seized when a reasonable person in their position would not feel free to leave or an officer restrains their liberty by physical force or show of authority. In re Welfare ofE.D.J., 502 N.W.2d 779, 781 (Minn. 1993). And seizures are assessed in light of the totality of the circumstances. United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554, 100 S. Ct. 1870, 1877(1980)."

"Generally, when a police officer stops a vehicle, it is a seizure. Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 809-10, 116 S. Ct. 1769, 1772 (1996). But Minnesota courts have held that it does not, without more, constitute a seizure for an officer simply to walk up and talk to a driver sitting in an already stopped car. State v. Vohnoutka, 292 N.W.2d 756, 757 (Minn. 1980). This is particularly true when an officer approaches a parked car to see if the occupants need help. See State v. Klamar, 823 N.W.2d 687, 690, 693 (Minn. App. 2012) (concluding that it was not a seizure but a welfare check for an officer to approach a car stopped on the interstate with a passenger vomiting out the side). In fact, “an officer has not only the right but a duty to make a reasonable investigation of vehicles parked along roadways to offer such assistance as might be needed and to inquire into the physical condition of persons in vehicles.” Kozak v. Comm ’r of Pub. Safety, 359 N.W.2d 625, 628 (Minn App. 1984)."

But when the officer opened the door of his vehicle a seizure occurred.  Not only would a person not feel free to leave once the door has been opened, but the open door prevents a person from lawfully driving away.  

The court correctly concludes that "even if a seizure occurred, it was justified".  But to claim there was no seizure in the first place is just plain wrong.

Moral Of The Story:  If the police are gentlemen and open your car door for you, you are now free to leave.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.









Monday, December 9, 2019

Minneapolis DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Quiroz (Decided December 9, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that if you are going to present a SODDI (Some Other Dude Did It) defense, you have to disclose more than a name.

In Quiroz, the Defendant was charged with felony DWI and he sought to use an alternative perpetrator defense.  The Defendant's attorney notified the state and the district court of his intent to use the defense and moved to introduce evidence to support his defense theory, requesting that the district court allow him to name the alleged alternative perpetrator. The only evidence appellant put forth to support his alternative-perpetrator defense was a name. At the hearing, Defendant's counsel explained that there was no additional information to disclose. The district court ruled that because the evidence was “just a name,” and there was not “any tendency to connect [the] name of some individual with the charged crime,” appellant could not name the alleged alternative perpetrator at trial.

A jury convicted the Defendant and on appeal he argued that  the district court violated his right to present a complete defense by preventing him from naming the person driving the car.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, noting"

"A criminal defendant is guaranteed a constitutional right to present a meaningful defense. State v. Ferguson, 804 N.W.2d 586, 590-91 (Minn. 2011)."
***
"Included within the right to present a complete defense is the right to present evidence showing that an alternative perpetrator committed the crime with which the defendant is charged. Id. State v. Nissalke, 801 N.W.2d 82, 99 (Minn. 2011). 'Determining whether alternative perpetrator evidence was improperly excluded at trial involves a two-step analysis.' State v. Atkinson, 774 N.W.2d 584, 590 (Minn. 2009). 'First, we must determine whether the defendant laid a proper foundation for admission of such evidence by offering evidence that has an inherent tendency to connect the alternative perpetrator to the commission of the charged crime.' Id. If the defendant fails to lay a proper foundation, the alternative perpetrator defense will not be permitted; but if the defendant lays a proper foundation, he may then introduce evidence of a motive of the third person to commit the crime, threats by the third person, or other miscellaneous facts tending to prove the third party committed the crime. Id."

"When appellant notified the state and the district court of his intent to rely on the alternative-perpetrator defense at trial, the only evidence he offered to support his theory was that “[someone else] committed the crime with which [appellant] is charged.” He offered no further evidence to support his theory, and the district court therefore properly rejected his motion because he had given “no information,” and the name alone provided “no connection” between the crime and the alleged perpetrator. And the district court’s ruling did not bar appellant from putting forth a meaningful defense. At trial, appellant testified at length regarding the series of events that led to his arrest and his testimony suggested that someone else had been driving the car."

Moral Of The Story:  The next time you have someone else drive your car, take their picture.



If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Minnesota DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is Martini v. Commissioner of Public Safety (Decided December 2, 2019 Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that that not every misstatement by the police constitutes a due process violation.  

Mr. Martini was a resident of Oregon when he was stopped by a state trooper in Stearns County, Minnesota.  He was subsequently arrested for DWI and after testing over the legal limit, the trooper issued Mr. Martini a "Notice and Order of Revocation".  The Notice stated his privilege to drive in Minnesota would be revoked in seven days. The trooper, however, mistakenly informed the Defendant that the revocation was immediate.

Martini petitioned for judicial review, asking the district court to rescind the revocation. He argued that his due-process rights were violated because Trooper Carlson had incorrectly told him that his license revocation was effective immediately rather than after seven days and that he suffered prejudice because of the error. The district court sustained the revocation and on appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court, stating:

"We emphasize that the practical effective date of the revocation of Martini’s driving privileges was not immediate but rather seven days after the trooper issued the written notice, as the written notice provided. The district court found that Martini’s practical revocation did not commence until that date. Martini does not contest the finding. And as his counsel implicitly acknowledged at oral argument, the Minnesota revocation also had no immediate effect in Oregon. See Or. Rev. Stat. § 809.400(2) (2017) (“The department may suspend or revoke the driving privileges of any resident of this state upon receiving notice from another state . . . that the person’s driving privileges in that jurisdiction have been suspended or revoked.”). The trooper’s incorrect oral statement about the revocation’s practical onset therefore had no effect on Martini’s actual driving privileges anywhere."

"Even if we were to recognize, as Martini urges, that prejudicial reliance on an officer’s misstatement could constitute a due-process violation outside the McDonnell setting, Martini has not established that his reliance was reasonable. Martini’s theory would require us to accept that an officer’s oral misstatement of the revocation’s practical onset constitutes a due-process violation even when the officer simultaneously provides the driver clear, accurate, written notice. Martini offers no caselaw or logical explanation supporting the theory, and we do not assume any exists. Aware of the irreconcilable inconsistency between the oral statement and the written statement about the revocation’s practical onset, Martini was on notice that one of the statements was certainly wrong. He could have resolved the discrepancy by referring to the relevant statutes and rule."

Moral Of The Story: Don't take legal advice from a cop.


If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.