Monday, January 14, 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The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Green (Decided January 14, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that if you choose to represent yourself, you have a fool for a client.

In Green, the Defendant was found unconscious behind the wheel of a car with two open beer cans in the front-seat cup holders. He was drunk. Facing one count of first-degree driving while impaired and one count of first-degree driving while impaired—test refusal, Green moved to dismiss the charges for lack of probable cause. The district court denied the motion, and Green fired his public defender. Green moved the district court to order Anoka County to pay for services to assist with his self-representation, including an investigator, a paralegal, office supplies, and law-library fees. The district court denied the motion.  

On appeal, the Court affirmed the district court noting:

"The statute does not expressly authorize self-represented indigent defendants to apply for investigative services. It provides, “Counsel appointed by the court for an indigent defendant, or representing a[n indigent] defendant . . . may file an ex parte application requesting investigative, expert, or other services necessary to an adequate defense in the case.” Minn. Stat. § 611.21 (emphasis added). The section is one part of a broader statutory scheme that provides for a defendant’s right to a public defender. See Minn. Stat. §§ 611.14-.273 (2018). We previously observed that section “611.21 provides a ‘safety valve’ of court-ordered funding for [services other than counsel] when public defender budgets are depleted.” See In re Wilson, 509N.W.2d568, 571 (Minn. App. 1993). It is not apparent that the statute authorizes anyone other than appointed counsel to apply for services. Neither party addresses this general-application issue, however, and we can decide Green’s appeal on its specific necessary-to-an-adequate-defense grounds. Green contends that the district court should have found that the requested services were necessary for his defense. The contention fails."

"Green sought investigative services to learn more about the ignition-interlock system and police-officer training for an additional omnibus hearing and trial. The information is unnecessary for an omnibus hearing, because the district court already rejected Green’s argument that the temporary inoperability of his car due to the ignition- interlock device defeated the charge. See State v. Starfield, 481 N.W.2d 834, 838-39 (Minn. 1992) (concluding that whether temporary inoperability of a car precludes a defendant from being in “physical control” of a vehicle is a fact question for the jury). To the extent Green’s defense at trial might rely on the alleged inoperability of the car by virtue of the ignition-interlock device, Jeeninga’s testimony would satisfy the objective, and Green can secure his testimony by subpoena. Green failed to show how the requested investigative services are necessary for an adequate defense."

"Green also sought a paralegal to help him with legal research. But lawyers conduct legal research, and Green rejected the legal services of the public defender’s office.  By discharging the public defender, Green rejected taxpayer-funded legal assistance, which included the legal research his counsel would have provided and any related paralegal assistance."

Moral Of The Story:  Sometimes the best advice is free!

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.

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