This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).







Lamar James Ford, petitioner,





State of Minnesota,




Filed September 5, 2000


Schumacher, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 162526



Keith M. Ellison, Hassan & Reed, Ltd., 2311 Wayzata Boulevard, Minneapolis, MN 55405 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, J. Michael Richardson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487; and


Jay M. Heffern, Minneapolis City Attorney, Kenneth R. Frantz, Assistant City Attorney, 300 Metropolitan Centre, 333 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent).


            Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.

U P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N




Lamar James Ford appeals from an order denying his petition for expungement of four juvenile delinquency adjudications.  Ford argues that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to expunge the adjudications to allow him to take advantage of the “safety valve” feature of a plea agreement in federal court.  We conclude the district court correctly applied the balancing test and properly weighed legitimate factors.  We affirm. 



Ford was adjudicated delinquent four times.  At age 14, he was first adjudicated delinquent for fifth-degree possession of controlled substances.  That same year he was also adjudicated delinquent for gross misdemeanor fleeing from a police officer.  At age 16, Ford was adjudicated delinquent a third time, for felony carrying a semi-automatic military-style assault rifle in public.  Over a year later, Ford was found guilty of felony tampering with a witness and was adjudicated delinquent a fourth time and committed to the commissioner of corrections.

Less than two years after Ford was released from juvenile custody, he was arrested again.  At age 21, Ford pleaded guilty in federal district court to possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.  His negotiated plea agreement indicated that, assuming he had no more than one criminal history point, he would qualify for a “safety valve” sentencing provision.  The “safety valve” sentencing would change the minimum mandatory sentence from 120 months to a guideline range of 57-71 months.  The prosecution was willing to recommend 57 months if Ford qualified.

            Ford’s 1994 adjudication for felony carrying a military-style semi-automatic assault rifle in public results in one point and his 1996 adjudication for first-degree tampering with a witness results in two points.  And because Ford’s most recent offense was committed less than two years after his release from juvenile custody, two additional points are added.

             In order to take advantage of the “safety valve” provision, Ford petitioned the state district court to expunge his juvenile adjudications.  Finding a clear need to maintain Ford’s juvenile criminal record, the district court refused to expunge his adjudications.  Ford appeals, arguing the district court abused its discretion because the benefit of expungement to Ford outweighs the disadvantages to the public. 



Expungement of records is an extraordinary form of relief.  Barlow v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 365 N.W.2d 232, 233 (Minn. 1985).  This court reviews the district court’s decision whether to expunge a record under an abuse of discretion standard.  State v. M.B.M., 518 N.W.2d 880, 883 (Minn. App. 1994).

            The Minnesota Supreme Court has recognized that the district court’s inherent authority to expunge records can extend to cases where there is no constitutional infringement.  State v. C.A., 304 N.W.2d 353, 358 (Minn. 1981).  In such cases, the district court must apply a balancing test to determine

whether expungement will yield a benefit to the petitioner commensurate with the disadvantages to the public from the elimination of the record and the burden on the court in issuing, enforcing and monitoring an expungement order.



            The district court carefully balanced the benefit to Ford against the disadvantages to the public.  The only benefit sought by Ford is reduction of his federal sentence.  The court recognized several serious disadvantages to the public in expunging Ford’s juvenile record.  Ford’s record shows a consistent history of criminal activity as a juvenile and the criminal activity has continued into his adulthood.  See City of St. Paul v. Froysland, 310 Minn. 268, 275, 246 N.W.2d 435, 439 (1976) (recognizing importance of ascertaining if defendant is multiple offender because propensity for recidivism is often one factor in determining whether to prosecute and how to sentence).  The district court also considered the disadvantage to the public of expunging Ford’s record because his juvenile crimes were relatively recent and were serious offenses “that placed the public in danger and involved illegal drugs.” 

The district court found that “there is a clear need to maintain [Ford’s] criminal record” and that the benefit to Ford is outweighed by the need of the public.  The district court properly weighed legitimate factors using the balancing test set forth by the supreme court in C.A.  The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Ford’s petition to expunge his juvenile record.