TRESPASS: ORAL DECLARATION OF TRESPASS AND REFUSED WRITTEN NOTICE DO NOT SATISFY TRESPASS NOTICE REQUIREMENT

Police responded to a grocery store on a report of unwelcome youth refusing to leave. When police dispersed the group, an officer tried to hand Appellant a written notice ordering Appellant to leave and not return, but Appellant refused to take the notice. Another officer told Appellant, “You’re officially trespassed...” Appellant left but returned to the store two months later. He was charged with criminal trespass and adjudication of his delinquency petition was stayed for 180 days following a bench trial. Minn. Stat. § 609.605, subd. 1(b)(8), makes it a misdemeanor for a person to intentionally return to a property, unless the person has a claim of right to the property or consent to be there, “within one year after being told to leave the property and not to return.” The Court of Appeals finds first that the officer’s statement that Appellant was “officially trespassed” did not satisfy the statute’s notice requirement. There is no definition of “trespass” or case law that indicates “officially trespassed” means the person is ordered to leave the property and not reenter for one year. The officer’s declaration was not specific enough to inform Appellant of his duty to leave and not return. The court also finds insufficient the written notice Appellant refused. The court looks to dictionary definitions of “told,” holding that one cannot be found to have criminally trespassed unless he was actually informed of his obligation to leave and not return. An attempt to so inform him is not enough. The district court’s finding of guilt and stay of adjudication is reversed. Matter of Welfare of A.A.D., Jr., No. A21-1264, 2022 WL 2124583 (Minn. Ct. App. June 13, 2022).

RIGHT TO UNANIMOUS VERDICT: OMISSION OF ONE JUROR’S JURY POLLING RESPONSE DOES NOT ESTABLISH VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO UNANIMOUS, 12-MEMBER JURY

After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of burglary and assault. Appellant requested a poll of the jury. The transcript records the clerk questioning 11 jurors, who responded that they supported the verdicts. The court then stated, “I think that’s everyone.” Appellant did not object. On appeal, Appellant argues his right to a unanimous 12-member jury was violated, because only 11 jurors found him guilty. The Court of Appeals affirmed Appellant’s convictions. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires all criminal jury verdicts be unanimous, and the Sixth Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution requires all felony juries to have 12 members. A defendant may request a poll of the jury after a verdict is announced. As a matter of first impression, the Supreme Court considers whether proper polling of the jury is necessary to protect a defendant’s right to a unanimous verdict from a 12-member jury or if polling is simply one mechanism to ensure a defendant’s rights are respected. The court follows the majority of other courts to consider this issue and holds that “jury polling is but one mechanism to ensure a unanimous jury verdict, such that an error in poling the jury does not categorically create a violation of the constitutional right to a unanimous jury.” The right to poll a jury is not included in the constitution, as it originated in common law to protect constitutional rights. It is also optional. Here, there was an error in the jury polling, but other safeguards were in place to protect Appellant’s right to a unanimous, 12-person jury. The record shows 14 were originally seated and that two were dismissed during and after the trial. After the trial, the jury immediately began deliberations and returned verdicts shortly thereafter. The jurors were never sent home or had an opportunity to leave. No one present commented on any missing jurors. The jury was also twice instructed on their duty to reach a unanimous verdict. The jurors were asked as a group, prior to polling, if they agreed with the verdicts and no one objected. Thus, the record contains substantial evidence that the jury was properly constituted and acted unanimously. The court denies Appellant any relief for the polling error, as the error was not structural, and Appellant did not establish a reasonable likelihood that the jury would have reached a different result had the twelfth juror been polled. State v. Bey, A20-1097, 2022 WL 2137007 (Minn. Sup. Ct. June 15, 2022).

SEXUALLY DANGEROUS PERSONS: MANDATORY CONDITIONAL RELEASE PERIOD FOR PERSONS CIVILLY COMMITTED AS SEXUALLY DANGEROUS AND CONVICTED OF ASSAULTING TREATMENT FACILITY EMPLOYEE DOES NOT VIOLATE EQUAL PROTECTION

Appellant was previously civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person (SDP). He later pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault for punching a security counselor at the secure treatment facility in the head. As part of Appellant’s sentence, the district court imposed a mandatory 5-year conditional release term under Minn. Stat. § 609.2231, subd. 3a(e). The district court denied Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief, in which he argued the conditional release period violates equal protection, because the conditional release period is imposed on persons convicted under section 609.2231, subd. 3a(b)(1) (assaulting a secure treatment facility employee while civilly committed as SDP), but not those convicted under section 609.2231, subd. 3a(c)(1) (assaulting a secure treatment facility employee while civilly committed as mentally ill and dangerous (MID)). The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding individuals convicted under subd. 3a(b)(1) and 3a(c)(1) are not similarly situated. The threshold question for equal protection analysis is whether the claimant is similarly situated in all relevant respects to others who they claim are being treated differently. If the claimant is not treated differently from others similarly situated, there is no equal protection violation. The Supreme Court examines which similarities are relevant in this case – the penalized conduct or the broader characteristics of the two groups as a whole. The court agrees with Appellant that, notwithstanding the different statutory classifications as SDP versus MID, Appellant is similarly situated to MID persons convicted under subd. 3a(c)(1), because the penalized conduct is the same under both subds. 3a(b)(1) and 3a(c)(1). The two subdivisions prohibit the same conduct in identical language, regardless of commitment status. Next, because Appellant’s challenges does not implicate a fundamental right or involve a suspect class, the court considers whether the sentencing disparity between SDP and MID patients under subds. 3a(b)(1) and 3a(c)(1) is a rational means of achieving the legislature’s policy goal. The purpose of both subdivisions is to protect treatment facility staff, a legitimate policy goal. Legislative committee discussions show legislators found the possibility of a five-year conditional release term would be more effective in deterring SDP patients, who do not necessarily suffer from disorders that prevent them from understanding the consequences of their actions, than MID patients from the same behavior. The court finds this is an adequate justification for the disparate sentences under subds. 3a(b)(1) and 3a(c)(1). Appellant’s equal protection rights were not violated. State v. Lee, A20-0758, 2022 WL 2232339 (Minn. Sup. Ct. June 22, 2022).

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