This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Ryan James Kane,
Filed September 12, 2000
Stearns County District Court
File No. T10081
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Jan F. Petersen, St. Cloud City Attorney, Matthew A. Staehling, Assistant City Attorney, 400 Second Street South, St. Cloud, MN 56301 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, James R. Chatto, Assistant Public Defender, 816 West St. Germain Street, Suite 410, St. Cloud, MN 56301 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
The district court found that Ryan Kane violated a city ordinance prohibiting noisy parties or gatherings between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Kane challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the conviction, asserting that, although he lived in the building, he was not a tenant of the premises where the party occurred. Because the party was not confined to a single apartment, but also involved common areas of the building and Kane attended the party, we affirm.
St. Cloud police officers responded to a neighbor’s complaint of a noisy party in an apartment building where Ryan Kane lived as a tenant. Police arrived around 11:30 p.m. and could hear loud music, voices, and laughter at a distance of more than 100 feet from the building. When they were admitted to the building the officers saw that it was crowded with people on the basement level and the first three floors. One officer testified that the landing on the basement level was packed with people and he was unable to get into the basement apartment.
The officers asked tenants to identify themselves, and asked all others to leave. According to the officers’ count, they saw 78 people leave the building from the door facing the alley. Others jumped from windows or left by a different doorway. Kane counted only 53 but acknowledged that his count may have been off because he was inside with police when some of the people left the building. The officers identified five tenants and issued citations to all of them. No citations were issued to tenants who had not attended the party or to party-goers who were not tenants.
The building where the party was held consists of four apartments. Each apartment has its own kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom; each tenant has separate utility and phone bills. Tenants share certain common areas, including building entrances, hallways, stairs, and a laundry facility. Kane rented the basement, or “garden,” apartment and shared it with two roommates. The laundry facility is located on a landing, several steps down from the main floor, and near Kane’s apartment. Kane testified at trial that the laundry room is on the first landing “and then you go through the door and that’s my first apartment.”
Kane further testified that the party was organized by tenants in a different apartment, and that he attended the party only as a guest. He stated he attended the party “for a little while,” and drank a couple of beers.
Following the bench trial, the district court found Kane guilty of violating the city ordinance against noisy parties. Kane had entered a guilty plea at arraignment to underage consumption of alcohol and a keg violation. The district court fined Kane $100 plus surcharges for the noisy party violation, plus surcharges for keg violation, and $200 plus surcharges for underage drinking violation (second offense). Kane appeals the district court’s finding on the violation of the noisy party ordinance.
St. Cloud noise ordinance § 1050:05, subd. 16, prohibits parties or gatherings of two or more people between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. that disturb the peace and quiet of another person at a distance of 50 feet. All persons are prohibited from knowingly remaining at a noisy party or gathering, and with respect to owners or tenants, the ordinance provides:
Every owner or tenant of the premises where a party or gathering in violation of this section occurs, who is present at such party or gathering, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
St. Cloud, Minn., Code of Ordinances § 1050:05, subd. 16 (1977).
Kane does not dispute that he was present at the party, that the noise volume was clearly audible at a distance of 50 feet, or that he was a tenant of the basement or “garden” apartment. But Kane contends that the evidence does not support the finding of a violation because he was a guest at a party hosted by the tenants of apartment #2 and therefore was not a “tenant of the premises where a party or gathering” occurred.
The ordinance does not include a definition of “premises.” When an ordinance fails to specifically define a term, we apply the common and approved usage. Minn. Stat. § 645.08(1) (1998); State v. Hicks, 583 N.W.2d 757, 759 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Oct. 20, 1998). The plain meaning of “premises” includes the whole or a part of a building. The American Heritage Dictionary defines premises as “(a) [l]and and the buildings on it; (b) [a] building or part of a building.” The American Heritage Dictionary 1429 (3d ed. 1992). Black’s Law Dictionary similarly defines “premises” as “[a] house or building, along with its grounds.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1199 (7th ed. 1999)
The plain meaning of premises does not support Kane’s “compartmentalized” definition that would draw lines based on a lease’s description of each apartment. The plain meaning of premises—building or part of a building—makes the premises where the party occurs a fact question for a court or jury.
Applying the plain meaning, the ordinance would reasonably be read not to penalize tenants of an apartment who attend a party hosted by another tenant that is confined to the host-tenant’s own apartment. Had the party in this case been confined to a single apartment, the “premises” of the party would reasonably consist only of that portion of the building, and Kane would be treated as other party-goers and not subject to a misdemeanor charge. If we applied the definition of “premises” that Kane urges, it would be possible for tenants to hold parties in common areas of a building only, including a party-room, with no one being held legally responsible as a tenant for gatherings that violated the noise ordinance. We presume the city council would not intend such a result. See Minn. Stat. § 645.17(1) (1998) (courts may presume “[t]he legislature does not intend a result that is absurd, impossible of execution, or unreasonable”).
The district court found that Kane was a tenant of the premises where the party occurred, reasoning “that the partygoers were on the premises, both inside and outside of the building; that the noise was coming from both inside and outside of the building; and it would require use of the common areas.” The evidence supports the district court’s finding. The officers testified that the party encompassed virtually all the common areas of the building below the fourth floor, including the basement area near Kane’s apartment.
We recognize that the ordinance might present an additional issue in another circumstance in which a tenant may not have been present at the time the party became noisy. But Kane has not raised that issue either in the district court or on appeal. He admits that he was present at the party, he went outside when police requested that the tenants identify themselves, the violation occurred between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., the volume of noise was clearly audible at a distance of 50 feet, and that he was a tenant in the building.
When viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, the evidence was sufficient to convict Kane of violating the city noise ordinance. The city met its burden of proving all the requisite elements of the offense.