This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Janet Dawn Reed,
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Anoka County District Court
File No. K1995491
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Robert M.A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, Robert D. Goodell, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka County Government Center, 2100 Third Avenue, Anoka, MN 55303-2265 (for respondent)
Mary M. McMahon, 2499 Rice Street, Suite 260, Roseville, MN 55113-3724 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Halbrooks, Judge, and Foley, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
Appellant Janet Dawn Reed appeals from a bench trial conviction for first degree assault and malicious punishment of a child, arguing that: (1) she was denied her constitutional right to a speedy trial because the district court did not issue its decision for sixty-eight days following trial; (2) the district court erred by questioning witnesses; and (3) her constitutional right of confrontation was violated when the district court admitted entire “Learned Treatises” into evidence. Because (1) appellant’s right to a speedy trial was not violated; (2) the district court did not err when it questioned the witnesses; (3) appellant’s right to confrontation was not violated; and (4), appellant was not prejudiced, we affirm.
In January 2000, appellant Janet Dawn Reed was found guilty of assault in the first degree and malicious punishment of a child for shaking a baby.
On October 18, 1999, Reed requested a waiver of her right to a jury trial. The district court questioned Reed regarding her right to a jury, accepted her waiver, and the bench trial began the same day.
At trial, Reed’s counsel presented testimony from Dr. Benjamin Ketroser who referred to eight medical treatises that he had relied upon for his opinion, and those entire treatises were eventually accepted as evidence by the district court. Respondent the State of Minnesota presented testimony from seven different medical experts including Drs. Lynch, Patterson, Miller, Fugate, Wilkin, DeVries and Levitt.
The state’s experts presented testimony regarding the location of the J.P.’s subdural hematoma indicating that acceleration-deceleration forces were exerted on the brain; existence of axonal injuries to the brain indicating a shaken baby; and that J.P.’s retinal hemorrhages were classic indicators of child abuse. Because expert testimony indicated evidence of seizures, hemiparesis, loss of consciousness, and skull fractures, they eliminated a fall as the cause of J.P.’s injuries. Additionally, the district court released findings regarding Reed’s confession to shaking J.P., and her consciousness of guilt.
The district court admitted into evidence each treatise referred to by both parties’ experts, stating
it was critical for me to see the entire article, so that I might better evaluate the methodological validity and statistical significance of studies reported in those articles.
The district court asked questions of the expert witnesses and illustrations were made. Those illustrations were accepted into evidence for illustrative purposes.
The bench trial concluded on October 29, 1999, and it was agreed that the district court would issue general and specific findings within fourteen days. On January 5, 2000, sixty-eight days after the end of the bench trial, the district court issued 100 pages of findings. In its findings, the district court explained that it was late in releasing its findings because of the extensive medical evidence and literature, character witnesses, and the seriousness of this felony. Reed appeals.
D E C I S I O N
Reed argues that her jury trial waiver was not a waiver of her right to a speedy trial. Both the United States and Minnesota constitutions guarantee the right of a jury trial for these charges. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 3, amend. VI; Minn. Const. art. I, §§ 4, 6. The accused may waive this constitutional right if the waiver is “knowing, intelligent and voluntary.” State v. Ross, 472 N.W.2d 651, 653 (Minn. 1991) (citation omitted).
The Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure sets out the procedure for jury district waiver:
The defendant, with the approval of the court may waive jury district 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 had an opportunity to consult with counsel.
The defendant shall be permitted to waive jury trial whenever it is determined that (a) the waiver has been knowingly and voluntarily made
* * * .
Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 1(2). The district court has discretion whether to accept the waiver, and should be satisfied that a defendant was informed of their rights and that the waiver was voluntary. State v. Pietraszewski, 283 N.W.2d 887, 890 (Minn. 1979).
The purpose of the district court inquiry is to learn whether the waiver is knowing and voluntary, and the focus should be on whether the defendant understands the basic elements of a jury trial. Ross, 472 N.W.2d at 654. “The nature and extent of the inquiry may vary with the circumstances of a particular case.” Id.; see also Adams v. United States ex rel. McCann, 317 U.S. 269, 278, 63 S. Ct. 236, 241 (1942) (whether there is an “intelligent, competent, self-protecting waiver of jury trial by an accused must depend upon the unique circumstance of each case”).
The record indicates that Reed requested to waive her right to a jury trial on the first day of trial. Before accepting her waiver, the district court questioned Reed about her right to a jury trial and the details of what she was waiving. Reed acknowledged that she understood what she was waiving and the district court accepted her waiver. Reed voluntarily made an intelligent decision to waive her jury trial right. A waiver focuses on whether a defendant understands the basic elements of a jury trial and not what Reed argues, that she did not understand and know what procedural and evidentiary issues would arise. See Ross, 472 N.W.2d at 654 (addressing whether a defendant understands the basic elements of a jury trial).
While Reed properly waived her right to a jury trial, Reed argues further that she did not waive her constitutional right to a speedy trial. Both the federal and state constitutions guarantee a defendant the right to a speedy trial. U.S. Const. amends. VI, XIV; Minn. Const. art. I § 6. To determine whether a particular defendant’s right to a speedy trial has been violated, we balance the length of the delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant’s assertion of the right, and any prejudice to the defendant. Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530, 92 S. Ct. 2182, 2192 (1972); State v. Friberg, 435 N.W.2d 509, 512 (Minn. 1989). In Minnesota, a defendant must be tried within 60 days of demanding a trial unless good cause is shown for the delay. Minn. R. Crim. P. 11.10.
Reed argues that her right to a speedy trial was denied because she had to wait almost eight months between the time she was charged, June 22, 1999, to the time she was sentenced, January 5, 2000. Reed argues that she was prejudiced by the delay because she experienced pain and anxiety while having to wait sixty-eight days after the conclusion of the court trial for the district court’s findings. But, stress and anxiety experienced by anyone involved in a trial are not serious enough to prejudice a party for speedy trial purposes. Friberg, 435 N.W.2d at 515.
Moreover, even though the district court took sixty-eight days to issue 100 pages of detailed findings due to an exhaustive amount of evidence presented, there is no evidence that the district court acted improperly in issuance of its detailed findings. Failure to comply with the time requirements in Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 2, is not a basis for dismissal of the charges. State v. Thomas, 467 N.W.2d 324. 326 (Minn. App. 1991). Therefore, Reed’s right to a speedy trial was not violated.
Next, Reed next argues that testimony from the various medical experts was improperly elicited by the district court judge and admitted into evidence. A district court may question and examine witnesses. Minn. R. Evid. 614(b) (1999). Inappropriate questioning by a district court judge can rise to the level of reversible error. Hastings v. Denny, 296 N.W.2d 378, 379 (Minn. 1980). The district court judge did not err here. First, Reed’s counsel did not object to such questioning. The district court attempted to clarify the complex medical testimony of the medical experts when it questioned three witnesses and asked them to make illustrations of their detailed medical diagnosis of J.P. Further, the record indicates that the illustrations were accepted only for illustrative purposes. See State v. Bauer, 598 N.W.2d 352, 362 (Minn. 1999) (illustrative evidence is used to clarify testimony of expert witnesses) (quoting Strasser v. Stabeck, 112 Minn. 90, 92, 127 N.W. 384, 385 (1910)). Because the district court only questioned the witnesses and asked them to illustrate what they were testifying to for clarification purposes, there was no error by the district court.
Next, Reed argues that the district court relied on inadmissible evidence when it admitted entire learned treatises. A trial court’s admission of physical evidence will be affirmed unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion. State v. Daniels, 361. N.W.2d 819, 827 (Minn. 1985).
All but two of the ten medical treatises were offered through Reed’s expert, Dr. Ketroser. The complete treatises were received as exhibits without objection from Reed. Because Reed did not make a timely objection to the admission of the treatises, she waived her right to argue this issue on appeal. See State v. Cromey, 348 N.W.2d 759, 760 (Minn. 1984) (timely objection is needed to preserve an appeal).
Even if there is no objection, an appellate court has discretion to consider a claimed error if it is plain error. State v. Griller, 583 N.W.2d 736, 740 (Minn. 1998). The district court committed plain error when it admitted the treatises and then relied upon them in its findings. See Minn. R. Evid. 803 (learned treatises may be read into evidence, but not received). Where admission of the evidence was plain error, the appellant has the "heavy burden" of showing that "the error was prejudicial and affected the outcome of the case." Id. at 741. Here, the error was not prejudicial. The record indicates that Reed confessed to shaking J.P., and experts presented extensive testimony regarding the cause of J.P.’s injury. While the district court did admit the entire treatises into evidence, it did not rely on them exclusively because the expert medical testimony presented by the state was competent and extensive without the treatises. In addition, Reed cannot point to any district court finding that was specifically based on the treatises. For these reasons, even though the district court erred in admitting the entire treatises into evidence, the plain error was not prejudicial because there is sufficient evidence to affirm the district court decision.
Nor was Reed’s constitutional right to confrontation violated when the district court admitted entire treatises as exhibits because she was not able to question the authors of those treatises and, particularly, those portions that were not read into evidence. See State v. Dehler, 257 Minn. 549, 559, 102 N.W.2d 696, 704 (Minn. 1960) (recognizing an accused’s right to confrontation); see also Minn. Const. a. 1, § 6. Appellant is mistaken that she has a right to confront the authors of the treatises. See id. (the right to confrontation only extends to adverse witnesses). Appellant had ample opportunity to confront respondent’s witnesses regarding the treatises through cross-examination to determine how those experts relied upon those treatises. Accordingly, Reed’s right to confrontation was not violated.
Finally, Reed argues that the cumulative effects of the district court errors so compromised her right to a fair trial that the effect was not harmless and the verdict must be reversed. See State v. Robinson, 427 N.W.2d 217, 224, 226 (Minn. 1988) (finding that the federal harmless error doctrine applies in Minnesota and the error must be beyond a reasonable doubt). Because there is ample evidence in the record supporting Reed’s conviction apart from any claimed error, her right to a fair trial has not been compromised.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.