Cases and Opinions of the FindLaw Minnesota Court of Appeals. (2023)

Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Re: TJC benefits, kids.

Serial number C3-02-1622.

Decision date: June 3, 2003

JUDGES' CONSIDERATION AND DECISION G. BARRY ANDERSON REPRESENTING, ONLY SCHUMACHER AND JUDGE WILLIS. John Stuart, public defender, and Lawrence Hammerling, assistant state public defender, Minneapolis, represented the appellants. Mike Hatch, Attorney General of St.


After a trial by a judge, the appellant was found guilty of a second-degree sex offence. The appellant challenged the sentence, arguing that his statements while in custody had been misconstrued at trial and that there had been insufficient evidence to support his sentence. Notwithstanding our conclusion that the appellant is in custody and should have been informed of his constitutional rights under Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), we conclude that even in the absence of the appellant's statement, there is sufficient evidence to support the award.


On August 21, 2000, Appellant T.J.C., then 15 years old, and M.J., then 4 years old, were playing on a trampoline adjacent to M.J.'s house, while M.J.'s mother she watched. I don't know when my mother came home. While the mother was inside the phone rang and she answered it but looked out the window at the appellant and M.J. While the mother was on the phone, she saw the applicant lying on the trampoline with M.J. Although initially she "couldn't really see what [M.J. and the appellants] did", the mother testified that she saw M.J. "reaches out and grabs the [input] penis." that after the first touch, the Appellant "grabbed [the applicant's] crotch and moved it, and then I saw [Appellant] look at [M.J.], say something to her, and then [M.J.] grab hold of him." the mother ran out of the house and told the appellant to leave. The mother then called her husband and the police.

About an hour after the trampoline incident, the parents spoke to M.J. and M.J.'s sister, A.J. The mother testified that during this conversation M.J. stated that the appellant had asked her to touch his penis.

On August 25, 2000, MJ was interviewed by Mille Lacs County Investigating Sheriff Alan Marxhausen. In this interview, M.J. he did not specifically mention the "springboard incident", but stated that the appellant "wanted me to touch his penis. That's all he did. * * * He asked me to touch his penis. That means he did everything [sic! ].” M.J. he also referred to an incident on the first floor in which the applicant had entered her house "naked" and asked her to touch his penis. MJ stated that the appellant touched MJ's "potty", which happened "often". When asked whether the appellant "put his finger in [M.J.]'s pool, M.J. he replied "Yes". M.J. has not passed a medical examination.

On 18 October 2002 the applicant was removed from the teaching class and escorted by his teacher to the headmaster's office. School Liaison Officer Shirley Milton and Mirak's Chief of Police, Michael Mott, waited in the office. Mott, Milton, and Appellant entered the office adjacent to the principal's office and the door closed behind them. Mott did not attempt to contact the appellant's parents prior to the appellant's hearing.

Mott had an unrecorded conversation with the appellant, which lasted approximately two to three minutes. In the taped and transcribed portion of the Appellant's statement, Mott told the Appellant that he had not been arrested and that "when [we're] done, [the Appellant] will be able to get up, walk out of here, and take the school bus home[.]" Mott Later reiterated, that the appellant could leave and that he could get up and leave at any time. In the tape-recorded part of the questioning, the appellant admitted that while dealing with M.J. and A.J., were playing a game where he "decided to take [his] my pants off." but no. It worked and during the fight to remove M.J. touched his penis. There was no mention of the trampoline incident in this interview. The applicant had not been informed of his Miranda rights before or during the interview. At the hearing, the appellant testified that he felt "terrified" when questioned by Mott.

After the trial, the appellant was found guilty of a second-degree sexual offense. The appeal followed.


I. Was the applicant detained for Miranda purposes during questioning by law enforcement? II. Is there sufficient evidence to support the applicant's default judgment? analyze

Appellant submits that when questioned in a locked room without his parents present, in the presence of two police officers, he was detained and should have been informed that he was in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Carat 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). Since he had not been informed, the appellant argued that his statements to Mott should be suppressed and his ruling quashed.

When reviewing pre-trial suppression orders, the District Court independently reviews the records to determine whether the District Court has committed a violation of the law. State v. Harris, 590 NW2d 90, 98 (Minn.1999). If the circuit court made an error, the appellant is entitled to a new trial, unless the error was harmless and beyond doubt. State v. Juarez, 572 NW2d 286, 291 (Minn. 1997). In determining beyond reasonable doubt whether an error was harmless, the appellate court must consider the effect of the error, that is, whether the error affected the sentence. ID. A very important factor in determining whether an error is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt is whether, in the absence of evidence of an erroneous admission, the rest of the evidence so forcefully compels a reasonable finder of the facts to a conviction. ID.

Pursuant to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of the Minnesota Constitution, a defendant in any criminal case may not be compelled by the state to testify against himself. american constitution to fix. five, fourteen; Minnesota. Piece. I, § 7. To uphold this constitutional right, individuals without advice must be informed of their rights under the Miranda Act and subjected to imprisonment. For GSP, 610 NW2d 651, 656 (Minn. App. 2000). If a person has been arrested or their freedom of movement has been restricted "to the extent related to formal detention", the questioning is a deprivation of liberty. Thompson v. Keohane, 516 U.S. 99, 112, 116 S.Ct. 457, 465, 133 L.Ed.2d 383 (1995) (citation omitted).

When this court assesses whether a Miranda warning is required, it must first determine whether the person being questioned is "in custody." State v. Edrozo, 578 NW2d 719, 724 (Minn. 1998). While no "clear rule" was followed in making this determination, "whether an individual is held in Miranda's cells is a mixed matter of law and fact." G.S.P., 610 NW2d at 657. The final question is whether, given the circumstances of the questioning, a reasonable person would arbitrarily stop the questioning and walk away. ID. Once it has been established that a person is in custody, the nature of the questioning should be analyzed to determine whether the person is "interrogated in custody". ID. At number 656, 657.

This court reviews the district court's findings of fact regarding questioning to manifestly flawed standards, but makes an independent assessment of the district court's custody findings. State v. Vernasz, 584 N.W.2d 1, 3 (Minn. 1998). Since the appeal did not object to the essential facts of the case, that court reopened the case. State v. Miller, 573 NW2d 661, 670 (Minn. 1998).

Circumstances to be taken into account when determining whether a minor is in custody include: the age, intelligence and education of the child, the child's prior experience in law enforcement, the circumstances of the questioning, the presence of one or more uniformed police officers, whether the child has parents or Choice of attorney present and whether the interview is recorded. In D.B.X., 638 N.W.2d 449, 453, 456 (Minn.App.2002) (court will consider child's age, intelligence, education, inexperience with the law, insufficient warning and absence of parents); in R.J.E., 630 N.W. 2d 457, 459, 461 (Minn.App.2001) (The court ruled that the child was not informed that he or she could have a parent or attorney during the hearing, which was the only door to the room where the child was registered), amended for other reasons, 642 N.W.2d 708 (Minn. 2002).

Here, the fifteen-year-old had no previous law enforcement experience. The interview was conducted in a small locked room by two military officers, at least one of whom was in uniform. The appellant was not informed that he might have a parent or lawyer with him and no attempt was made to contact the appellant's parents. Although part of the interview was recorded, most of the questions were recorded. However, the appellant was told several times that he could leave and was not arrested.

While these circumstances may not constitute an interrogation for the purpose of deprivation of liberty if the subject is an adult, in the case of a minor we conclude that the interrogation was not without psychological intimidation and strongly suggests the coercive effects of formal detention. See GSP, 610 NW2d at 658. When the uniformed officer called the child out of the classroom and actively participated in questioning him, the situation strongly suggested coercion related to formal arrest. State v. Tibiatowski, 590 NW2d 305, 310 (Minn. 1999); GSP, 610 NW2d at 658. Mott knew the applicant was being investigated for sexual conduct offences, so he summoned him to the principal's office. Mott asked the appellants questions in order to obtain an answer to such conduct. Moreover, the tape-recorded interviews strongly suggest a detention hearing. ID. at 658. We conclude that the appellant, who was detained and interrogated in custody, should have been informed of his constitutional rights.

Furthermore, we considered it relevant that no attempt was made to contact the appellant's parents to inform them that their child would be questioned by law enforcement. While the question of whether the appellant's statement was voluntary was not an immediate issue, the presence of the parents was a factor to be taken into account when asking the child whether the statement was voluntary to the police. State v. Ouk, 516 NW2d 180, 185 (Minn. 1994). In light of the facts of the case, the appellant's parents should have been notified before the hearing and should have been allowed to be present during the hearing.

Young people and adults have the right to be informed about their constitutional rights. State v. Loyd, 297 Minn. 442, 445, 212 NW2d 671, 674 (1973). The fact that the minor is free to leave without answering questions is a factor in the decision to conduct a detention interview, but only a factor and not a determining factor.

Having concluded that the claim should be banned, we must now consider the consequences of falsely admitting it. Juarez, 572 NW 2d at 291. The appellant is entitled to a new trial unless his testimony is found to be innocuous beyond reasonable doubt. ID. The decision of the appellant will be upheld if the judgment is confirmed by duly admitted evidence. ID.

As noted by the trial court, this case differs from most sex crime cases because of the witnesses used. Here the mother witnessed the acts in which the appellant was accused and convicted. Mother saw M.J. twice touched the appellant's genitals and, when asked why M.J. did it, M.J. he replied, "[b]because he made me do it." M.J. could tell more about the case than any child victim the District Court had ever come across. The district court clearly noted that M.J. she testified voluntarily and explained that she had touched the appellant's penis and that he had forced her to do so.

Furthermore, while the district court noted that the appellant's statement was "relevant", the district court also noted that the appellant's statement did not appear to be related to the trampoline incident for which he was ultimately fined. While it is not clear how much weight the district court placed on the appellant's allegations, the district court had other overwhelming evidence to rely on to find a violation by the appellant. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with allowing the appellant's statement beyond reasonable doubt.


The applicant argued that the evidence gathered at the trial was insufficient to support the District Court's negligent decision to find him guilty of a second-degree sexual offense in violation of the Ministry of State. §609.343, sec. 1(a) (2000).

When considering an allegation of insufficient evidence, the Court carefully examines the minutes of the hearing to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to enable the fact-finder to draw the conclusions it has arrived at in terms of what is best for the fact-finder's decision. State v. Webb, 440 NW2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). Evidence is sufficient to make a judgment if, based on the facts in the case file and the legal inferences drawn from those facts, the finder can reasonably conclude that the accused has committed the offence. State v. Wilson, 535 NW2d 597, 605 (Minn. 1995). The tribunal assumes that the fact-finder believes the evidence to support the outcome and does not believe the evidence to the contrary. State v. James, 638 NW2d 205, 212 (Minn.App.2002), Refusal of Examination (Minnesota, March 27, 2002). These standards apply to both jury and court cases. State v. Ibarra, 355 NW2d 125, 130 (Minn. 1984).

The elements that must be established for the appellant to be in breach in this case are: (1) M.J. is under the age of 13, (2) the appellant is older than MJ by more than 36 months, (3) M.J. was induced to touch the Appellant's private parts, and (4) The applicant had intent to sexually assault by inducing MJ Minn.Stat. §§‹609.341, para. 11(a)(ii), 609.343, sub 1(a) (2000).

There is no doubt that M.J. was 4 years old and the Claimant was 15 years old at the time of the alleged events. Thus, the first and second elements are satisfied beyond any doubt. In order to establish the third element, the State has correctly submitted the following evidence:1(1) Mother's testimony that she saw M.J. grabbed the Appellant's penis through his clothes and did it again after the Appellant said something to MJ. told him in an interrogation that the appellant “wants me (M.J.) to touch his penis; (3) A.J.'s testimony that when she asked M.J. if the appellant had asked her to touch his penis, M.J. ) M.J. testified that he asked her to touch the appellant while he was lying on the trampoline, and she did so "[because] he told [her]"; (5) Video and transcript of Marxhausen's interview with M.J., in which she states that she touched his penis at the request of the appellant. In particular, the District Court stated that it had accepted the mother's testimony and the acknowledgment by A.J. theorems of M.J. too credible. The court also accepted the testimony of M.J. considered credible and voluntary.

Even without considering the appellant's testimony, the district court could reasonably conclude, beyond any doubt, that the appellant had induced M.J. to touching your dick on a trampoline. In fact, the very testimony of M.J. confirm the court's decision. See Minn.Stat. §609.347, sec. 1 (2002) (accused of violating Min. Stat. §609.343 without substantiating the victim's testimony). The State provided sufficient evidence to establish the third element of the complaint.

The last element to be established - the applicant's behavior with sexually aggressive intentions - can be demonstrated by repeated attempts to have sexual contact. See CSK 438 NW2d 375, 377 (Minn.App.1988) (noting that repeated attempts to touch the applicant's private parts indicated sexual intent). The mother testified that on previous occasions she had seen the applicant fully clothed and A.J. and M.J. at various stages of undressing. In conversations with Markhausen M.J. referred to a number of incidents in which the applicant had touched her or she had touched him. Assuming that the district court believes this evidence, these earlier incidents indicate that the events allegedly committed by the applicant involved a sexual assault. See ID card. ("[I] find it hard to believe that the applicant's repeated attempts to touch the applicant's private parts might not have been sexually or offensively motivated.") Therefore, based on this record, we conclude that all elements necessary for the maintenance of the Prize have been fully established.


Obtaining the appellant's affidavit violated his constitutional rights in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 and was unjustly admitted to trial. But since, in addition to the Appellant's statement, there is overwhelming evidence to support the district court's finding that the Appellant is in default, the erroneous admission of this statement is harmless and beyond doubt. Since there is sufficient evidence to support the District Court's decision, we uphold it.



1The state also provided Mott's testimony and a transcript of the appellant's conversation with Mott. Since we concluded that this evidence was not relevant in court, we did not consider it in determining whether there was sufficient evidence to support the District Court's conclusion.

G. Barry Anderson, Judge.


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