Ries v. State, A16-0220

CourtCourt of Appeals of Minnesota
Writing for the CourtBJORKMAN, Judge
Citation889 N.W.2d 308
Decision Date19 December 2016
Docket NumberA16-0220
Parties Justin Stephen RIES, petitioner, Respondent, v. STATE of Minnesota, Appellant.

889 N.W.2d 308

Justin Stephen RIES, petitioner, Respondent,
v.
STATE of Minnesota, Appellant.

A16-0220

Court of Appeals of Minnesota.

Filed December 19, 2016


889 N.W.2d 311

Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Jessica Merz-Godes, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent).

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Kaarin Long, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant).

Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Bjorkman, Judge; and Jesson, Judge.

OPINION

BJORKMAN, Judge

Appellant State of Minnesota challenges the postconviction court's reversal of respondent Justin Stephen Ries's conviction for ineligible possession of a firearm and grant of a new trial due to juror bias. Ries appeals the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a warrantless search and seizure. We affirm.

FACTS

S.A. lived in an apartment in St. Paul with her brother and her six-month-old son. During the evening of January 4, 2013, Ries and two other men came over to visit S.A.'s brother. S.A. did not know Ries but was told, before he arrived, that the men from Iowa (one of whom was Ries) would leave their guns in the car. The adults drank alcohol late into the evening while the child slept in S.A.'s bedroom. S.A. woke up at about 3:30 a.m. and saw that the men had passed out, with the exception of Ries, who was trying to lift himself from the living room floor onto a couch. S.A. noticed the butt of a gun tucked in the waistband of Ries's jeans. Unable to wake her brother, S.A. called 911. She told the dispatcher that she could not sleep knowing that one of the intoxicated men had a gun, especially with her young child in the apartment. She asked the dispatcher to send officers to remove the men from the apartment.

St. Paul Police Officer Jeffery Korus was the first to arrive at the scene; S.A. met him outside. She explained the layout of the apartment, and described Ries's appearance, location on the couch, and where the handgun would be found. After officers Zachary Tabatt and Rod Larson arrived, the three entered the apartment in order to "remove the males from the apartment" and "secur[e] the handgun." Ries was sleeping on his back. The officers were concerned about startling Ries as he woke up, so they decided to first remove the gun from his possession. Officer Tabatt secured Ries's hands and Officer Korus placed them in cuffs before patting Ries's clothing. When the officers could not find the gun, they rolled Ries over and saw the butt of the gun inside Ries's coat, under his side. Officer Korus retrieved the gun, which contained six live rounds. It took the officers a minute to awaken and identify Ries. After learning that Ries was not eligible to possess a firearm, Officer Tabatt placed him under arrest.

The state charged Ries with ineligible possession of a firearm. Ries moved to suppress evidence of the gun as the fruit of an unconstitutional search and seizure. The district court denied Ries's motion, reasoning that Ries's seizure was justified by the emergency-aid exception to the warrant requirement.1 During voir dire, potential juror A.P. disclosed that she was

889 N.W.2d 312

employed as a 911 dispatcher for the Washington County Sheriff's Department. A.P. stated that she would give more weight to a police officer's testimony because she considers herself to be their "backup." And she later added that she would likely interpret things in a 911 call that other people "might not be trained to hear" and that it would be hard for her to turn that off. Despite the prosecutor's attempts to rehabilitate A.P., she ultimately stated that she would side with police officers if there was a conflict in the testimony.

Ries moved to strike A.P. for cause. The district court questioned A.P. further, then denied the motion, determining that A.P. was sufficiently rehabilitated. Ries did not use one of his five remaining peremptory challenges to remove A.P., who served as a juror. The jury found Ries guilty. On August 29, 2013, the district court sentenced Ries to 48 months in prison.

On August 19, 2015, Ries filed a petition for postconviction relief, alleging that denial of his motion to remove A.P. for cause was structural error. Ries also alleged that the district court committed reversible error by denying his motion to suppress the gun.2 The postconviction court denied the suppression motion, reasoning that Ries was not seized. But the postconviction court granted Ries's motion for a new trial because juror A.P. expressed actual bias and was not rehabilitated.

The state appeals the reversal of Ries's conviction and grant of a new trial. In a related appeal, Ries challenges the denial of his motion to suppress the gun evidence.

ISSUES

I. Did the postconviction court abuse its discretion in granting Ries a new trial based on the presence of a biased juror?

II. Did the postconviction court abuse its discretion in denying Ries's suppression motion?

ANALYSIS

We review the grant or denial of a postconviction petition for an abuse of discretion. Matakis v. State , 862 N.W.2d 33, 36 (Minn. 2015). We consider "whether the postconviction court's findings are supported by sufficient evidence." Lussier v. State , 821 N.W.2d 581, 588 (Minn. 2012) (quotation omitted). But we review legal issues de novo. Matakis , 862 N.W.2d at 36.

I. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion in granting Ries a new trial because juror A.P. expressed actual bias and was not properly rehabilitated.

A defendant in a criminal case has the constitutional right to a trial by an impartial jury. U.S. Const. amend. VI ; Minn. Const. art. I, § 6. Because the impartiality of the fact-finder implicates "the very integrity of the legal system[,] [t]he bias of a single juror violates the defendant's right to a fair trial." State v. Brown , 732 N.W.2d 625, 630 (Minn. 2007) (citation omitted). A juror may be removed for cause if the juror's state of mind, in reference to the case or to a party, "satisfies the court that the juror cannot try the case impartially and without prejudice to the substantial rights of the challenging party." Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.02, subd. 5(1) 1. "Permitting a biased juror to serve is structural error requiring automatic reversal." State v. Fraga , 864 N.W.2d 615, 623 (Minn. 2015).

889 N.W.2d 313

A. Ries did not forfeit his right to contest the denial of his for-cause challenge by not using a peremptory challenge to remove A.P.

During voir dire, the district court denied Ries's for-cause challenge to A.P. Ries declined to use a peremptory challenge to remove A.P. The state contends that Ries forfeited his right to challenge A.P. for cause by failing to do so. We disagree.

The state relies on State v. Logan to support its forfeiture argument. 535 N.W.2d 320, 324 (Minn. 1995). In Logan , the district court failed to excuse a juror for cause who admitted that he would credit police testimony over that of other witnesses. Logan had already used all of his peremptory challenges when his for-cause challenge was rejected. The supreme court reversed Logan's conviction, concluding that it is structural error for a biased juror to sit in judgment. Id. But the court noted in dicta that "[i]f defendant had then had peremptory challenges available and had not exercised one of them to strike K.G., then the question would be whether defendant could complain about K.G.'s sitting on the jury." Id.

But in United States v. Martinez Salazar , the Supreme Court rejected the state's argument, holding that a defendant does not have to use a peremptory challenge to remove a juror who should have been removed for cause. 528 U.S. 304, 315-16, 120 S.Ct. 774, 781, 145 L.Ed.2d 792 (2000). The Supreme Court resolved a split in authority that had required a defendant to use a peremptory challenge to strike a juror "in order to preserve the claim that the for-cause ruling impaired the defendant's right to a fair trial." Id. at 315, 120 S.Ct. at 781. Martinez-Salazar argued that his due-process rights were violated because he was forced to use a peremptory challenge. The Supreme Court disagreed, reasoning that loss of a preemptory challenge, without more, does not implicate the Sixth Amendment and Martinez-Salazar used his peremptory challenge in accord with a primary purpose of such challenges—"to help secure the constitutional guarantee of trial by an impartial jury." Id. at 315–16, 120 S.Ct. at 781–82. But the Supreme Court rejected the government's contention that federal law requires a defendant to use a peremptory challenge to preserve his Sixth Amendment challenge. Rather, the Supreme Court concluded that a defendant has the choice of either using a peremptory challenge or permitting the juror to serve and pursuing a Sixth Amendment challenge on appeal. Id . at 315, 120 S.Ct. at 781–82.

We conclude that the Supreme Court's decision in Martinez Salazar applies here. First, Martinez Sa...

To continue reading

Request your trial
10 practice notes
  • Ries v. State, A16-0220
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 5 Diciembre 2018
    ...20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968), as opposed to the postconviction court’s "community caretaking function" rationale. Ries v. State , 889 N.W.2d 308, 318 (Minn. App. 2016).The State petitioned for further review on the juror issue. Ries petitioned for conditional cross-review on the Fourth A......
  • State v. Bonacci-Koski, A19-0125
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • 10 Febrero 2020
    ...willingness to follow the district court's instructions. This exchange differs from the types of situations described in Ries v. State, 889 N.W.2d 308, 314-15 (Minn. App. 2016), aff'd, 920 N.W.2d 620 (Minn. 2018). In Ries, we observed that the supreme court had found rehabilitation lacking ......
  • State v. Final Exit Network, Inc., A15-1826
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • 19 Diciembre 2016
    ...– Dinkel , 844 N.W.2d at 23–24.DECISIONBecause the Minnesota Supreme Court held in Melchert – Dinkel that the "assists" 889 N.W.2d 308provision of Minn. Stat. § 609.215, subd.1, is facially constitutional under the First Amendment, and because the statute is constitutional as appl......
  • Charette v. State, A20-1476
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • 14 Junio 2021
    ...language, and apprehension of duty"). We will not disturb the decision to seat a juror absent an abuse of discretion. Ries v. State, 889 N.W.2d 308, 314 (Minn. App. 2016), aff'd, 920 N.W.2d 620 (Minn. 2018).Page 9 In deciding whether the district court abused its discretion, we review ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Ries v. State, A16-0220
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 5 Diciembre 2018
    ...20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968), as opposed to the postconviction court’s "community caretaking function" rationale. Ries v. State , 889 N.W.2d 308, 318 (Minn. App. 2016).The State petitioned for further review on the juror issue. Ries petitioned for conditional cross-review on the Fourth A......
  • State v. Bonacci-Koski, A19-0125
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • 10 Febrero 2020
    ...willingness to follow the district court's instructions. This exchange differs from the types of situations described in Ries v. State, 889 N.W.2d 308, 314-15 (Minn. App. 2016), aff'd, 920 N.W.2d 620 (Minn. 2018). In Ries, we observed that the supreme court had found rehabilitation lacking ......
  • State v. Final Exit Network, Inc., A15-1826
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • 19 Diciembre 2016
    ...– Dinkel , 844 N.W.2d at 23–24.DECISIONBecause the Minnesota Supreme Court held in Melchert – Dinkel that the "assists" 889 N.W.2d 308provision of Minn. Stat. § 609.215, subd.1, is facially constitutional under the First Amendment, and because the statute is constitutional as appl......
  • Charette v. State, A20-1476
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • 14 Junio 2021
    ...language, and apprehension of duty"). We will not disturb the decision to seat a juror absent an abuse of discretion. Ries v. State, 889 N.W.2d 308, 314 (Minn. App. 2016), aff'd, 920 N.W.2d 620 (Minn. 2018).Page 9 In deciding whether the district court abused its discretion, we review ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT