This opinion will be unpublished and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
State of Minnesota,
Floyd Ladale Wylie,
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 03048715
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, John S. Garry, Assistant Attorney General, Suite 1100, NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Amy J. Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Jean E. Burdorf, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Leonardo Castro, Chief Fourth District Public Defender, Barbara S. Isaacman, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*
Floyd Ladale Wylie appeals from a conviction of criminal contempt. Because the record does not support the district court’s findings, we reverse.
After Wylie made a first appearance on a felony complaint of possession of burglary tools, he was called back into the courtroom where the following exchange took place:
Wylie: You didn’t give me a chance to say nothing.
The Court: Mr. Wylie --
Wylie: I even --
The Court: Mr. Wylie, shut your mouth.
Wylie: My girl had already --
The Court: Shut your mouth.
Wylie: I can’t say nothing?
The Court: Shut your mouth, okay. . . .
. . . .
The Court: When I set – when you’re in this courtroom, you shut your mouth. I heard you swear before.
. . . .
The Court: You think that I can’t do anything to you because you have bail set? I have the ability to hold you in contempt of court right now, criminal contempt, and put you in jail for 250 days. Do you want me to do that?
Wylie: If that’s what you please. All I’m asking --
The Court: Do you want me to do that?
Wylie: All I’m asking is can I say something?
The Court: Do you want me to do that?
Wylie: Can I talk on my behalf?
The Court: Okay. You have a lawyer.
Wylie: I come out here and try to say something, you won’t even give me a chance.
The Court: If you don’t be quiet–do you understand what I’m telling you?
Wylie: I don’t even know you. Please don’t—don’t—don’t come up and do that. Please. Okay.
The Court: All right, Mr. Wylie.
Wylie: What? I’m talking to two people, okay.
The Court: Okay, I’m gonna find you in criminal contempt of this court, okay. Pursuant to statute, I’m going to order that you serve 250 days in the Workhouse.
. . . .
The Court: . . . Regardless of what you get on this new charge, you will do 250 days for not shutting your mouth.
Wylie: But now you–can I speak now that I got 250 days?
The Court: No, because I’ll find you in contempt again and give you another 250 days --
Wylie: For what? For saying what --
The Court: --consecutive. Do you want me to do that?
Wylie: No, I want to ask you a question?
The Court: Do you want me to do that?
Wylie: All I wanted to do is simply ask you --
The Court: Okay, I find you in contempt of court again for another 250 days consecutive to this one. We have 500 days. That’s over a year-and-a-half.
Wylie: All I was trying to do was ask you a question, man.
The Court: Do you want another 250 days?
Wylie: Do what you want to do, man. I was just asking a question.
The Court: Do you want another 250 days? Go with the deputy.
Wylie: I don’t have a right to speak, right?
The Court: All right. I find you in contempt of court for another 250 days. That’s 750 days you will do in the Workhouse.
Wylie: And you’re laughing like it’s a joke or something, right?
The Court: It’s not a joke to me.
The case history in the trial court file as well as the court’s supplemental findings show that seven days later an order was filed reducing the sentence for the first contempt to ninety days and vacating the sentences for the second and third contempt convictions. This order is not in the trial court file. According to the supplemental findings, this order was misfiled.
Wylie filed a petition for a writ of prohibition with this court. Shortly thereafter, the district court issued supplemental findings and a memorandum. The district court found that at the conclusion of his first appearance, Wylie “uttered some profanity because bail was set by the court.” The court also found that after Wylie was placed in the holding facility he began to scream profanities that could be heard in the courtroom while the court heard other cases and continued to scream obscenities after the court directed the deputy sheriff to tell Wylie to quiet down. The court then had Wylie returned to the courtroom. The court stated as a finding that “when the court instructed the defendant to shut his mouth, the court was referring to the defendant’s screaming obscenities in the holding area.” The court also found that “[d]uring the entire incident from the time the defendant heard that he was not being released until the time he [was] found in contempt, the defendant never lowered his voice.” The court found that Wylie’s behavior not only showed disrespect for the court and interrupted its business, but also set a poor example for other defendants. Wylie’s petition for a writ of prohibition was denied and Wylie then filed this appeal from the contempt conviction.
A preliminary issue is whether this court may consider the supplemental findings issued by the district court. In a direct contempt that is punished summarily, the district court must make an order “reciting the facts as occurring in the immediate view and presence of the court . . . and adjudging the person proceeded against to be guilty of a contempt, and that the person be punished as therein specified.” Minn. Stat. § 588.03 (2002). The district court, in this case, did not make any findings at the time of the contempt determination, but thirty-four days later filed “supplemental” findings and a memorandum, which appeared to be responsive to Wylie’s petition for prohibition, to provide “the context in which [the contempt decision] was made,” and affirming the decision to hold Wylie in contempt.
Wylie argues that the supplemental findings and memorandum were issued in response to his petition for a writ of prohibition and were not part of the record in district court. But Wylie’s petition for a writ of prohibition is not part of the current appeal and the supplemental findings and memorandum were filed in district court prior to this appeal and are properly included in the record on appeal.
Wylie also asserts that Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 2, required the district court to file written findings within seven days of the contempt verdict. The seven-days-from-verdict provision applies to felonies and gross misdemeanors. Id. Although the district court initially sentenced Wylie for gross misdemeanors, the amended order reduced the sentence to a misdemeanor. In misdemeanor cases, findings are not required by the rule until seven days after the filing of the notice of appeal. Id. We conclude the findings were timely under the rule. We further note that the contempt statute does not provide a time period in which the findings to support the contempt determination must be made, so that the findings are not untimely under Minn. Stat. ch. 588 (2002).
The next issue is whether the contempt conviction should be upheld. Appellate courts “review punitive contempt orders for arbitrariness, capriciousness, and oppressiveness.” State v. Tatum, 556 N.W.2d 541, 547 (Minn. 1996). In a review of a district court’s determination of criminal contempt challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the appellate court will carefully review the record viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction. State v. Lingwall, 637 N.W.2d 311, 313 (Minn. App. 2001). The purpose of criminal contempt is to “vindicat[e] the court’s authority by punishing the contemnor for past behavior.” Tatum, 556 N.W.2d at 544. Although Minn. Stat. ch. 588 sets out the court’s contempt powers, the “judiciary retains inherent authority to punish direct contempt whether or not statutory authority exits.” Id. at 547.
Direct contempt occurs “in the immediate view and presence of the court” and arises from:
(1) Disorderly, contemptuous, or insolent behavior toward the judge while holding court, tending to interrupt the due course of a trial or other judicial proceedings;
(2) A breach of the peace, boisterous conduct, or violent disturbance, tending to interrupt the business of the court.
Minn. Stat. § 588.01, subd. 2. Misdemeanor contempt is also defined to include “disorderly, contemptuous, or insolent behavior, committed during the sitting of the court, in its immediate view and presence, and directly tending to interrupt its proceedings, or to impair the respect due to its authority.” Minn. Stat. § 588.20, subd. 2(1). Contempt is also a “breach of the peace, noise, or other disturbance directly tending to interrupt the proceedings of a court, jury or referee.” Id., subd. 2(3).
In this case, the supplemental findings imply that contempt was imposed because of Wylie’s use of profanity when he left the courtroom after bail was set and because he was screaming profanities in the holding cell that could be heard in the courtroom. We need not reach the issue of whether that behavior would warrant a contempt conviction, however, because the record does not support a finding that contempt was imposed for that behavior. The record clearly shows that, rather than being punished for past behavior, Wylie was punished for speaking in court and for answering repeated questions from the bench. We are not unsympathetic to the irritation Wylie caused the court, but we cannot condone the exchange that resulted in the contempt conviction in this case. Because the record does not support the implied finding that contempt was imposed for Wylie’s use of profanities that disrupted the court, we conclude that the contempt conviction imposed for Wylie’s non-profane and non-contemptuous remarks was oppressive and not supported by the record.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.