Filed August 9, 2004
Chisago County District Court
File No. K7-03-584
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Forsberg, Judge.
1. When a police officer’s initial reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is dispelled by further investigation, a limited investigatory stop may be prolonged only if additional facts provide justification for prolonging the stop.
2. A defendant who waives his or her right to a jury trial and agrees to a Lothenbach proceeding in order to preserve pretrial issues for appeal may not obtain appellate review of the sufficiency of the evidence; a defendant who wants to challenge the state’s proof must either proceed to trial or agree to a stipulated-facts trial under Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 3.
3. Because a defendant in a Lothenbach proceeding concedes that the state’s facts are accurate and primarily seeks to appeal a pretrial ruling, the district court’s findings in support of its pretrial ruling satisfy the requirement for written findings set forth in Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subds. 2, 3.
Mike Thomas Mahr was convicted of first-degree controlled substance crime, in
violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 152.021, subds. 2a, 3(a); .096, subd. 1 (2002)
(conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine), following a trial on stipulated
facts pursuant to State v. Lothenbach,
296 N.W.2d 854 (
Because the officer had a particularized and objective basis to make a limited investigatory stop and because appellant made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his jury trial rights, we affirm his conviction. Although the district court transcript reflects imposition of only one sentence, the district court records and Department of Corrections accounts recite multiple sentences; we order these records corrected to accurately reflect the imposition of one sentence.
On March 26, 2003,
Police officers who searched the Jeep found drug paraphernalia and three stolen checks belonging to Beulah Giddings in Shanahan’s purse and other items associated with meth manufacturing. Police contacted Giddings’ daughter, who had a power of attorney on her behalf. The daughter stated that appellant was watching Giddings’ home and gave police permission to search it. Once there, police discovered evidence of a meth lab and eventually arrested several people. A search warrant was issued and a more extensive search was conducted. The evidence discovered during this search provided the basis for the charges brought against appellant.
Conceding that if the original stop was lawful, the search of Giddings’ home was lawful, appellant contested the stop at the omnibus hearing. The district court issued written findings ruling that the stop was lawful and concluding that Knutson had a basis to stop the car based on the suspended license of the registered owner. The court further found that both the equipment violation (obstructed windows) and Knutson’s observations of indicia of drug use in Shanahan provided a basis for prolonging the stop. The district court therefore refused to suppress the evidence.
On the scheduled trial date, October 27, 2003, appellant agreed to submit the matter on stipulated facts under State v. Lothenbach, 296 N.W.2d 854 (Minn. 1980). Before doing so, appellant was questioned by the court:
The Court: And specifically you understand that you’re giving up to have--the right to have a jury of 12 persons determine the facts and determine your guilt or innocence on these matters?
The Defendant: Yes, Your Honor.
The Court: You also understand that it’s - - there’s a substantial likelihood under this procedure that you may be found guilty and that this is, in essence, to preserve your right to challenge the search and seizure issue in this case?
The Defendant: Absolutely, right, Your Honor.
On October 28, 2003, the district court entered an order finding appellant guilty; no findings of fact were made. Appellant was sentenced on April 28, 2004, to the presumptive sentence of 110 months on one count of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine.
1. Did the district court err by refusing to suppress evidence discovered as the result of an investigatory stop?
2. Did appellant, who agreed to a Lothenbach proceeding, make a knowing and intelligent waiver of his jury trial rights?
3. Did the district court err by imposing multiple punishments for a single behavioral incident?
Legality of Stop
appeal of the district court’s pretrial order refusing to suppress evidence, we
independently review the facts and determine as a matter of law, whether the
district court erred in refusing to suppress the evidence. State
Knutson stopped the Jeep in which appellant was a passenger because a motor vehicle check revealed that the registered owner, a male, had a suspended license. Knutson was not aware that the driver of the Jeep was female until she approached the driver’s window, because the rear windows of the Jeep were painted black. Although Knutson’s initial suspicions based on the suspended license of the male registered owner were dispelled, she observed that the driver, Shanahan, was sweating profusely in cool weather, jittery, excitable, nervous, and moving with jerky motions, actions that Knutson identified with drug usage. Shanahan stated that she had just bought the Jeep, had no insurance, could not produce a driver’s license, and initially both she and appellant gave Knutson false names. Upon learning his true name, Knutson discovered that appellant had three outstanding arrest warrants and placed him under arrest. During the subsequent search of appellant, Shanahan, and the Jeep, stolen checks and materials associated with methamphetamine manufacturing were discovered. Based on this, a warrant was issued to search the house where appellant was staying. The evidence discovered provided a basis for the charges against appellant.
Knutson’s stop of the Jeep was justified by the knowledge that the registered owner had a suspended license. Knutson’s further observations provided a sufficient basis for a particularized and objective belief that the occupants of the Jeep were engaged in criminal activity. The investigative stop of the Jeep was thus lawful and the district court therefore did not err by refusing to suppress the evidence.
Jury Trial Waiver
In State v. Busse, 644 N.W.2d 79, 88-89 (
Contrary to appellant’s assertion that a Lothenbach proceeding is the equivalent of a guilty plea, this court stated that
a Lothenbach proceeding does not involve a guilty plea. A true Lothenbach stipulation does not involve a concession of guilt, and is intended only to preserve the defendant’s right of appeal while avoiding an unnecessary jury trial. We therefore disagree with appellant’s contention that an agreement to a stipulated-facts trial is the functional equivalent of a guilty plea[.]
State v. Johnson,
689 N.W.2d 247, 252-53 (
Before proceeding here, appellant was informed that, by agreeing to a Lothenbach proceeding, he was giving up his rights to a jury trial, to have a jury decide his guilt or innocence, to confront witnesses, and to testify on his own behalf. The district court also told him that there was a “substantial likelihood” that he would be found guilty and that the procedure was being used to preserve his right to challenge the search and seizure issue. Appellant conceded that he understood and waived these rights. The record reflects that appellant made a knowing and intelligent decision to use a Lothenbach proceeding, rather than proceed to a jury trial.
Appellant points out that the court failed to make written findings, as required by Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subds. 2, 3, which state that in a felony trial without a jury, including a trial on stipulated facts, the district court must issue written findings within seven days after the general finding of guilt. The district court did not comply with this rule.
On its face, the rule applies to court trials and to stipulated-facts trials; as stated above, a Lothenbach proceeding technically is neither. In a court trial, under rule 26.01, subd. 2, the court hears and decides disputed facts; in a stipulated-facts trial under rule 26.01, subd. 3, the facts are not disputed, but the court determines if the defendant’s guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and the defendant is permitted to appeal as from any other trial. The Lothenbach proceeding is a concession that the state’s facts are accurate, with the primary purpose of permitting the defendant to appeal a pretrial ruling, while avoiding a trial for reasons of judicial economy. Because a Lothenbach proceeding is not a court trial or a stipulated facts trial, the findings requirement of rule 26.01 does not apply.
multiple charges arise out of a single behavioral incident, Minn. Stat.
§ 609.035 limits punishment to a single sentence. State
v. Bookwalter, 541 N.W.2d 290, 293 (
According to the sentencing transcript, the district court sentenced appellant only on the first count of the complaint, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. The Chisago County Register of Actions and Department of Corrections inmate base file record, however, reflect convictions and concurrent sentences on all three charged offenses. We therefore order these records to be modified to reflect one sentence arising out of this incident.
Appellant’s Pro Se Briefs
In addition to the issues raised by his counsel, appellant argues that the state suppressed exculpatory evidence by failing to test evidence recovered pursuant to the search warrant for fingerprints. Appellant provides no basis for this claim.
also states that he was denied his right to a speedy trial. Generally, a defendant is guaranteed the
right to a jury trial within 60 days after a written or oral demand, unless
good cause for a delay is shown.
The arresting officer had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity that provided a basis for an investigatory stop, and her continuing observations of suspicious activity supported a continuation of the stop. Appellant was informed and made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights to a jury trial when he decided to submit this matter as a Lothenbach proceeding. Because the primary issue here was the district court’s pretrial ruling, its findings in support of that ruling are sufficient to satisfy the requirements of Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.03, subds. 2, 3. We direct the district court and the Department of Corrections to correct their records to reflect one conviction and one sentence arising out of this incident. Appellant’s pro se issues are without merit. We therefore affirm appellant’s conviction and sentence, as modified.
Affirmed as modified.