This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of: C. L. L., Child.
Scott County District Court
File No. 200115568
John M. Stuart, Minnesota Public Defender, Lawrence Hammerling, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 425, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Patrick J. Ciliberto, Scott County Attorney, Susan K. McNellis, Assistant County Attorney, 200 Fourth Avenue West, Shakopee, MN 55379 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
In this appeal from juvenile court, appellant argues that the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Because the evidence is sufficient, we affirm.
In a delinquency trial, the state must prove every fact necessary to constitute the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In re Welfare of S.M.J., 556 N.W.2d 4, 6 (Minn. App. 1996). On appeal from a determination that each of the elements of the crime charged in a delinquency petition has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, “an appellate court is limited to ascertaining whether, given the facts and legitimate inferences, a factfinder could reasonably make that determination.” Id. (citing State v. Merrill, 274 N.W.2d 99, 111 (Minn. 1978). This court is required to view the record in the light most favorable to the decision and assume that the factfinder believed the testimony supporting the adjudication and disbelieved any contrary evidence. Id. Appellate courts may not retry the facts. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).
In this case, the state was required to prove that C.L.L. engaged in sexual contact with a person under the age of 13 and that C.L.L. is more than 36 months older than complainant. It is undisputed that the complainant, C.M., was under the age of 13 and that C.L.L. is more than 36 months older than C.M.
C.L.L. has consistently and adamantly denied sexual contact with C.M. He asserts that C.M.’s allegations are not credible, arguing that her age and behavioral problems made her susceptible to suggestion. C.L.L. points to his lack of prior contact with the criminal justice system, his limited opportunity to have committed the alleged acts, and the fact that C.M. knew at least two other people whose first name is the same as his, to argue that a factfinder could not reasonably have found beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime charged.
But C.M.’s testimony at trial was consistent with her prior statements to her mother and an interviewer from Midwest Children’s Resource Center. C.M. identified C.L.L. by his first name, his mother’s first name, and his relationship to her as a friend, indicating her ability to distinguish C.L.L. from another boy with the same first name and an adult uncle, who also had the same first name but was called “Uncle Tipper” by C.M.
The district court, in a thoughtful memorandum, carefully described the evidence, including its observations of C.M.’s conduct and demeanor at trial, and reviewed the standards for evaluating the credibility of young children. The district court also carefully considered the evidence about the interviews of C.M. conducted by a child psychiatrist and at the Midwest Children’s Resource Center. The district court found that the interview conducted at the Midwest Children’s Resource Center was reliable but that the testimony and report of a child psychiatrist, who did not have an independent recollection of his interview with C.M., was not reliable about the specifics of what occurred, because his report did not document questions asked or what led C.M. to a discussion of sexual abuse. Because the district court found that report unreliable, it concluded that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that C.L.L. had committed criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. But the district court found C.M.’s testimony credible that sexual contact occurred and that C.L.L. was the person who touched her. The district court was free to disbelieve C.L.L. and to believe the testimony of C.M. See Murray v. Antell, 361 N.W.2d 466, 469 (Minn. App. 1985) (stating that findings of fact “shall not be set aside unless clearly erroneous” and “due regard shall be given to the opportunity of the trial court to judge the credibility of the witnesses.” (citing Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01)).
The district court’s memorandum reflects a careful weighing of all of the evidence and the record contains sufficient evidence to support the district court’s conclusion that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree were committed by C.L.L.