This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






In the Matter of the Welfare of: J. T. S.


Filed September 16, 2003


Minge, Judge


Wright County District Court

File No. J9-02-51665


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Leslie Rosenberg, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue S.E., Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant J. T. S.)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Tom Kelly, Wright County Attorney, Scott M. Sandberg, Assistant County Attorney, Wright County Government Center, 10 Second Street N.W., Buffalo, MN 55313 (for respondent State of Minnesota)


            Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Minge, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N


MINGE, Judge

            Appellant challenges his adjudication of delinquency for obstructing legal process, arguing that the evidence is not sufficient to support his adjudication because the state’s witnesses testified inconsistently and because the evidence does not show that the officers were hindered in the performance of their legal duties.  We affirm. 


            On December 19, 2002, appellant J.T.S. was sleeping at his parents’ home when police arrived with a search warrant, to search for evidence of drug use by appellant’s father and appellant’s older sibling.  A police officer went into appellant’s bedroom, woke him up, and brought him to the living room, where the rest of his family was. 

Once in the living room, appellant was ordered to sit on the floor.  The events after appellant was ordered to sit on the floor are disputed.  Appellant allegedly began swearing and yelling at the officers while the officers were attempting to execute the search warrant.  Because appellant’s behavior was interfering with the execution of the search warrant, Officer Hoffman escorted appellant to the kitchen. 

The state alleges that appellant then became upset, struggled, and attempted to strike Officer Hoffman.  After appellant attempted to strike him, Officer Hoffman brought appellant to the ground and tried to handcuff him.  Appellant continued to struggle, kick, and try to get away.  Officers Anderson and Deringer came to Officer Hoffman’s assistance, and the three officers were able to handcuff appellant.  Appellant was then transported to the police station and was later charged with obstructing legal process, a gross misdemeanor under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subds. 1(2), 2(2) (2002). 

After a bench trial, the district court adjudicated appellant as delinquent, noting that appellant

acted intentionally to interfere, obstruct, resist Officer Hoffman specifically by throwing a punch at him, which did not land, and by kicking and struggling . . .  And those acts would justify the Court’s finding that [appellant] either used force of violence to resist the officer in the lawful performance of his duties or threatened force or violence at that time.


Appellant now challenges his adjudication of delinquency, arguing that the evidence is not sufficient to support this determination because the officers’ testimony is inconsistent and because the evidence does not show that that officers were hindered in the performance of their duties. 


            Our standard of review of a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim in a juvenile delinquency bench trial is the same as our review of a jury verdict in a criminal case.  See State v. Hough, 585 N.W.2d 393, 396 (Minn. 1998).  When evaluating sufficiency-of-the-evidence claims, we review the record to determine whether the evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to support the verdict.  State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).  We assume that the factfinder believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary.  State v. Moore, 438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989).  We will not disturb the verdict if the factfinder, acting with due regard for the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could reasonably conclude that the defendant was guilty of the charged offense.  State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988).   

            A person who intentionally “obstructs, resists, or interferes with a peace officer while the officer is engaged in the performance of official duties” is guilty of obstructing legal process.  Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1 (2) (2002).  “[I]f the act was accompanied by force or violence or the threat thereof” the offense becomes a gross misdemeanor and the offender may be sentenced to up to one-year’s imprisonment.  Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 2 (2) (2002).

            Appellant first argues that the evidence is not sufficient to support his adjudication of delinquency because the officers gave slightly different accounts of the incident that led to appellant’s arrest and the delinquency determination.  Appellant’s argument is essentially an attack on the credibility of the officers.  But it is well settled that judging the credibility of witnesses and the weight given to their testimony rests within the province of the finder of fact.  State v. Johnson, 568 N.W.2d 426, 435 (Minn. 1997).  Further, any inconsistencies in the officers’ testimony are minor; the two officers who were in a position to witness the exchange between appellant and Officer Hoffman testified that appellant was forming a fist as if he would try to strike Officer Hoffman.  They further testified, consistent with Officer Hoffman’s testimony, that appellant continued to kick, struggle, and strike out at Officer Hoffman once appellant was on the ground.  See State v. Pieschke, 295 N.W.2d 580, 584 (Minn. 1980) (noting that inconsistencies in the state’s case do not require a reversal of the verdict).  Accordingly, we decline to reverse appellant’s adjudication of delinquency on this ground.

            Appellant next argues that the evidence is not sufficient to support his delinquency determination because the evidence shows that the officers were able to quickly restrain him and, therefore, the officers were not hindered in the performance of their duties.  For support, appellant cites State v. Krawsky, 426 N.W.2d 875 (Minn. 1988).  In Krawsky, the supreme court denied a constitutional overbreadth challenge to the obstruction of legal process statute and described the type of interference necessary to constitute a violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.50.  Krawsky, 426 N.W.2d at 877.  The court stated that “physically obstructing or interfering with a police officer involves not merely interrupting an officer but substantially frustrating or hindering the officer in the performance of his duties.”  Id. at 877.  In this case, the police officers were at the home attempting to execute a search warrant.  The officers testified that appellant’s behavior interfered with the execution of that warrant and caused other members of the household to become agitated, which further interfered with the execution of the warrant.  The police testimony regarding appellant’s behavior in the kitchen supports a finding that appellant’s actions amounted to more than a mere interruption of police duties. 

            We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the adjudication of the appellant as delinquent.