This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the
Welfare of: M.O.S., Child.
Filed December 10, 2002
Stearns County District Court
File No. J90052316
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Roger S. Van Heel, Stearns County Attorney, Michael J. Lieberg, Assistant County Attorney, 705 Courthouse, Administration Center, RM 448, St. Cloud, MN 56303-4701 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann E. Winking, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant child)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
Seventeen-year-old appellant M.O.S. was charged by petition with first-degree criminal sexual conduct for acts committed in 1998 when he was 13 years old. Prior to trial, appellant moved to suppress statements he made in a treatment facility and those he made to police two months later, after the treatment facility disclosed his initial statements to police. The district court suppressed the initial statements that appellant made while in therapy, concluding that they were privileged and not subject to any exception under the statute requiring the reporting of child abuse. See Minn. Stat. § 595.02, subd. 1(g) (2000) (information disclosed in therapy subject to medical privilege unless reporting required under Minn. Stat. § 626.556). The court denied appellant’s motion to suppress the later statements he made to police, however, concluding that those statements were not tainted by the initial disclosure.
After a bench trial, appellant was found guilty and adjudicated delinquent. On appeal, he argues his later statements should have been suppressed because they were the “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
Because a sufficient amount of time passed between the initial disclosures and the later statements to police and because appellant validly waived his rights after receiving a Miranda warning, we agree with the district court that the later statements were not tainted by the earlier disclosures. We therefore affirm the district court’s denial of appellant’s motion to suppress these later statements and affirm the adjudication of delinquency.
On review of a pretrial suppression order, when the “facts are not in dispute and the [district] court’s decision is a question of law,” this court may “independently review the facts and determine * * * whether the evidence need be suppressed.” State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 221 (Minn. 1992) (citation omitted).
Appellant argues that because his statements to police occurred as a direct result of improper disclosure of privileged information by the treatment facility, those statements should have been suppressed as the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” See State v. Olson, 634 N.W.2d 224, 229 (Minn. App. 2001) (exclusionary rule prohibits use of evidence discovered by exploiting previous illegal conduct) (citing Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 488, 83 S. Ct. 407, 417 (1963)), review denied (Minn. Dec. 11, 2001). The state counters that the “fruits” doctrine simply does not apply because appellant fails to identify any constitutional violation or illegal conduct by police. Indeed, Minnesota courts have suggested that the doctrine generally requires some constitutional violation. See, e.g., State v. Schramel, 581 N.W.2d 400, 404 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Sept. 22, 1998); State v. Grover, 402 N.W.2d 163, 166 (Minn. App. 1987). However, we need not decide whether police violated any constitutional rights or whether a violation of appellant’s medical privilege is sufficient to invoke the “fruits” doctrine. Even if the doctrine applies, exclusion of the statements appellant made to police is not required.
In State v. Odenbrett, 349 N.W.2d 265 (Minn. 1984), a treatment agency reported the defendant’s inculpatory disclosures to authorities under a duty imposed by Minn. Stat. § 626.556, the Child Abuse Reporting Act. Unlike the initial disclosures here, however, the district court in Odenbrett determined that the defendant’s medical privilege was not violated because the disclosure by the treatment agency was required under the Act. Id. at 268. The defendant also challenged the constitutionality of the Act as a violation of his right to privacy. The supreme court avoided this constitutional issue by holding that even if constitutional issues were implicated by the Act, the ultimate disclosure was not “tainted” by the initial disclosure due to the lapse of time between the initial disclosure and the later confession and by the fact that the defendant received a Miranda warning prior to his confession.
Even though the [treatment agency’s] disclosure let “the cat out of the bag,” subsequent incriminating statements are not necessarily tainted thereby. Here there was a lapse of 8 days before the deputy sheriff sought a statement; defendant was read his Miranda rights each time he gave a statement to the deputy and it appears he validly waived those rights; and there is no evidence of any prejudicial coercion on defendant to confess again * * * . In light of the totality of the circumstances, we do not believe the statements could be characterized as tainted, even if the Wong Sun rationale were applicable.
Id. at 269 (citations ommitted).
Here, appellant made his statements to police two months after his initial, privileged disclosures at the treatment facility. Before appellant gave his later statements to police, he was read his Miranda rights and specifically waived those rights. The record fails to show that appellant was coerced or otherwise pressured into giving the statements. The record also fails to show any intentional misconduct on the part of police or the treatment facility to violate appellant’s medical privilege; rather, the treatment facility appears to have reasonably believed that it had a legal obligation under the Act to report appellant’s statements to police. Under these circumstances, we conclude that appellant’s later statements and confession to police were not so tainted by any violation of his medical privilege as to preclude their use at his trial. See State v. Warndahl, 436 N.W.2d 770, 776 (Minn. 1989) (factors to consider when determining whether derivative evidence is so tainted as to preclude its use include purpose and flagrancy of police misconduct; presence of intervening circumstances; whether evidence likely would have been obtained without illegality; and temporal proximity of illegality and derivative evidence). Rather, we conclude that the subsequent statements were obtained “by means sufficiently distinguishable to be purged of the primary taint.” Wong Sun, 371 U.S. at 488, 83 S. Ct. at 417.
The district court’s denial of appellant’s motion to suppress is affirmed.