This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Roble Abdigani Ugas,
Olmsted County District Court
File No. K3982589
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Raymond F. Schmitz, Olmsted County Attorney, Eric Olson, Assistant County Attorney, 151 Fourth Street SE, Rochester, MN 55904 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Cathryn Middlebrook, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Amundson, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
††††††††††† Appellant Roble Abdigani Ugas challenges the validity of his waiver of the right to a jury trial.† Ugas also argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for giving false information to a police officer.† Because the record reflects a valid waiver and the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction, we affirm.
††††††††††† On the evening of June 12, 1998, while on patrol, Rochester police officer Dwight Parker observed a vehicle with a headlight out.† Parker followed the vehicle as it entered a gas station, maintaining visual contact at all times.† The driver, later identified as appellant Roble Abdigani Ugas, exited the vehicle and headed toward the gas station.
††††††††††† Parker stopped Ugas and asked for his driverís license.† Ugas retrieved a license from the vehicle and gave it to Parker.† The name on the license was Abdullahi Ahmed Saiid.† By running a check on the license, Parker learned that there was a possible warrant on Saiid.† When Parker returned to Ugas, he noticed that Ugas did not match the picture on the license.†† Parker then tried to determine whether the license belonged to Ugas, by asking him to provide the information printed on the license.† Ugas, however, could not provide the correct information.
Parker continued to question Ugas in an effort to determine his true identity, but Ugas would not provide that information.† Later, after he had been arrested, Ugas correctly identified himself and told Parker that the license belonged to his cousin.† Ugasís own driverís license had been cancelled.† Parker tape-recorded most of his interview with Ugas.
††††††††††† Ugas was charged with gross misdemeanor false information to a police officer in violation of Minn. Stat. ß 171.22, subd. 1(8) (1996), using anotherís driverís license in violation of Minn. Stat. ß 171.22, subd. 1(3) (1996), and driving after cancellation in violation of Minn. Stat. ß 171.24, subd. 3 (1996).† Because one of Ugasís passengers had an open soda can with liquor in it, Ugas was also charged with open bottle in violation of Minn. Stat. ß 169.122, subd. 3 (1996).
††††††††††† When Ugas appeared for trial, his attorney informed the trial court that Ugas might want to waive his right to a jury trial.† After Ugas had an opportunity to speak with his attorney, the court asked whether he waived his right to a jury trial and Ugas replied, ďYeah.Ē† The court also asked Ugasís attorney whether Ugas waived his right to a jury trial.† Ugasís attorney likewise answered in the affirmative.
††††††††††† At trial, Ugas testified that Saiid had driven the vehicle to the gas station in order to retrieve his personal vehicle, which he had left there.† According to Ugas, Saiid then left and Officer Parker arrived a few minutes later.† Ugas claimed that he expressly told the officer that the driverís license was not his.† Ugas also presented the testimony of two men who were passengers in the vehicle that night.† They both testified that Ugas was not driving and that Ugas told the officer that the driverís license was not his.†
††††††††††† The trial court found Ugas guilty of the counts of false information, using anotherís driverís license, and driving after cancellation.† The court found Ugas not guilty on the open bottle charge.†
D E C I S I O N
1.† †††††† Waiver of right to jury trial
††††††††††† Because Ugas was charged with a gross misdemeanor that is punishable by incarceration, it is clear that he was entitled to a jury trial.† Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 1(1); State v. Sandmoen, 390 N.W.2d 419, 423 (Minn. App. 1986).† But the right to a jury trial may be waived in the manner provided by the rules of criminal procedure:
The defendant, with the approval of the court may waive jury trial provided the defendant does so personally in writing or orally upon the record in open court, after being advised by the court of the right to trial by jury and after having an opportunity to consult with counsel.
Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 1(2)(a).† Waiver of the right to a jury trial must be knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.† State v. Ross, 472 N.W.2d 651, 653 (Minn. 1991).† In reviewing whether waiver was sufficient, this court must make an independent subjective determination, but will not disturb any facts found by the district court unless clearly erroneous.† Cf. State v. Miller, 573 N.W.2d 661, 672 (Minn. 1998) (reviewing waiver of Miranda right to counsel).
††††††††††† Before the trial court may accept a waiver of the right to trial by jury, the court ďmust be satisfied that Ďthe defendant was informed of his rights and that the waiver was voluntary.íĒ† Ross, 472 N.W.2d at 653 (quotation omitted).† Ugas argues that the trial courtís inquiry was insufficient to determine whether the waiver was knowing and voluntary.† Ugas argues that the trial court should have followed the approach set forth in United States v. Delgado, 635 F.2d 889 (7th Cir. 1981).† There, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the defendant should be informed that the jury is made up of members of the community, that the defendant may play a role in selecting the jurors, that the juryís verdict must be unanimous, and that, if the defendant waives his right to a jury trial, the judge alone will decide his case.† Id. at 890.† But, although our appellate decisions have approved the Delgado inquiry, the decisions have expressly declined to make the inquiry mandatory.† Ross, 472 N.W.2d at 654; State v. Johnson, 354 N.W.2d 541, 543 (Minn. App. 1984).
††††††††††† Instead of adopting a strict line of inquiry necessary to support waiver, this court must look at the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the waiver was knowing and voluntary.† See Ross, 472 N.W.2d at 654 (ďThe nature and extent of the inquiry may vary with the circumstances of a particular case.Ē); State v. Pietraszewski, 283 N.W.2d 887, 890 (Minn. 1979).† The state argues that the circumstances of the present case are analogous to Pietraszewski.† Like Ugas, the defendant in Pietraszewski was asked only if he wished to waive his right to a jury trial, to which the defendant replied, ďThatís true, Your Honor.Ē †283 N.W.2d at 890.† The Pietraszewski court held that, although a more thorough inquiry should have been made, reversal was not required.† Id.† In so holding, the court noted that the defendantís contacts with the trial court provided sufficient evidence for the trial court to determine the validity of the waiver.† Id.
††††††††††† Having reviewed the entire record in the present case, we conclude that Ugasís waiver of his jury trial right was valid.† Ugas was informed of his right to a jury trial, he had an opportunity to consult with his attorney, and he orally agreed to waive the right on the record.† Under the circumstances of the present case, we cannot find the waiver to have been involuntary.†
Although we conclude that Ugasís waiver was valid, we note that a more thorough inquiry would have been preferable and, accordingly, we remind trial courts to exercise caution when accepting a waiver of the right to a jury trial.
2.† †††††† Sufficiency of the evidence
Findings of the trial court are entitled to the same weight as jury verdicts.† State v. Stender, 354 N.W.2d 890, 891 (Minn. App. 1984).† In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, this court must determine whether, in light of the record and the inferences that can be drawn from the facts therein, a reasonable fact-finder could have concluded that the defendant was guilty of the charged offense.† State v. Wallace, 558 N.W.2d 469, 472 (Minn. 1997); State v. Thurmer, 348 N.W.2d 776, 778 (Minn. App. 1984) (court trial).† This court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the stateís case and must assume that the fact-finder believed the stateís witnesses and disbelieved any contrary evidence.† State v. Drieman, 457 N.W.2d 703, 711 (Minn. 1990).†
Ugas challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction for giving a false statement to a police officer in violation of Minn. Stat. ß 171.22, subd. 1(8) (1996), which prohibits, with respect to a driverís license:
[using] the name and date of birth of another person to any police officer for the purpose of falsely identifying oneself to the police officer.
††††††††††† Ugas argues that the testimony of Officer Parker was not credible.† But the issues of credibility and weight of the evidence are for the fact-finder to decide.† State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988).† Here, the trial court was presented with Parkerís testimony that he asked Ugas for his driverís license and that Ugas produced Saiidís license.† Ugasís statements made during the taped portion of the interview are consistent with an attempt to deceive Parker into believing that he was Saiid.† Further, Ugas did not admit that the license was not his until after his arrest.† The trial court was faced with conflicting testimony and obviously chose to believe Officer Parker over Ugas and his friends.† See Drieman, 457 N.W.2d at 711 (reviewing court must assume that the fact-finder found the stateís witnesses credible and disbelieved any contrary evidence).† We will not disturb that critical credibility determination.†