This opinion will be unpublished and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

A04-383

 

Richard Wayne Taylor, petitioner,
Appellant,

vs.

State of Minnesota,
Respondent.

 

Filed October 12, 2004

Affirmed

Wright, Judge

 

Ramsey County District Court

File Nos. K0-02-2075, K4-01-1307

 

 

Richard W. Taylor, Minnesota Correctional Facility-Rush City, 7600 525th Street, Rush City, MN  55069 (pro se appellant)

 

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

 

Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Jeanne L. Schleh, Assistant County Attorney, Ramsey County Government Center, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, Suite 315, St. Paul, MN  55102-1657 (for respondent)

 

 

            Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Wright, Judge.

 

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N

 

WRIGHT, Judge

 

Appealing from the district court’s order denying postconviction relief, appellant argues that his convictions must be vacated because the statutes under which he was convicted contain neither a title nor an enactment clause, in violation of the Minnesota Constitution.  We affirm.

FACTS

 

In May 2001, appellant Richard Taylor pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal-sexual conduct with a three-year-old child, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(a) (2000).  He pleaded guilty in August 2002 to first- and second-degree criminal-sexual conduct with two other children, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.342, subd. 1(a), .343, subd. 1(a) (2002).  Taylor was subsequently sentenced in these cases, and he appealed the convictions.  Taylor later filed a consolidated postconviction motion in district court to dismiss both cases.  He claimed that his convictions are invalid because the statutes under which he was convicted do not contain a title or an enactment clause, in violation of the Minnesota Constitution.  After finding that Taylor failed to establish a factual basis in support of the motion, the district court denied relief.  This appeal followed.


D E C I S I O N

 

We review a postconviction court’s findings of fact for clear error to determine whether there is sufficient evidentiary support for them in the record.  Dukes v. State, 621 N.W.2d 246, 251 (Minn. 2001).  On legal issues we exercise de novo review.  Butala v. State, 664 N.W.2d 333, 338 (Minn. 2003).  Absent an abuse of discretion, the postconviction court’s decision will not be disturbed.  Dukes, 621 N.W.2d at 251.

Taylor argues that, because Minn. Stat. §§ 609.342, .343 (2002) are constitutionally defective, his convictions are void and thus the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.  “A person convicted of a crime is entitled to relief if that person can prove that the conviction was obtained in violation of the state or federal constitutions.”  Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1(1) (2002).  We presume that Minnesota statutes are constitutional, and we exercise our power to declare a statute unconstitutional with extreme caution.  State v. Merrill, 450 N.W.2d 318, 321 (Minn. 1990).  One who challenges the constitutional validity of a statute “must meet the very heavy burden of demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that the statute is unconstitutional.”  Associated Builders & Contractors v. Ventura, 610 N.W.2d 293, 299 (Minn. 2000). 

I.

Without specifying the basis for his challenge, Taylor contends that Minn. Stat. §§ 609.342, .343 violate the titling requirements of the Minnesota Constitution.  “No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.”  Minn. Const. art. IV, § 17.  The purpose of this provision is to prevent fraud or surprise in the legislative process by ensuring that the public has notice of a bill’s contents.  Associated Builders & Contractors, 610 N.W.2d at 304.  Every reasonable presumption is taken in favor of the constitutionality of an act’s title.  Id. at 300.  There must be at least some cognizable thread in common between the subjects expressed in the title, Blanch v. Suburban Hennepin Reg’l Park Dist., 449 N.W.2d 150, 154 (Minn. 1989), but “it is not essential that the best or even an accurate title be employed,” Associated Builders & Contractors, 610 N.W.2d at 301 (indirectly quoting State ex rel. Olsen v. Bd. of Control of State Insts., 85 Minn. 165, 175, 88 N.W. 533, 537 (1902)).

Few cases have considered what title is sufficient for an act that establishes a criminal offense.  But in such cases, the Minnesota Supreme Court has summarily upheld titles as simple as “[r]elating to [the] prevention of delinquency and crime,” State v. Meyer, 228 Minn. 286, 291-92, 37 N.W.2d 3, 8 (1949) (considering 1947 Minn. Laws ch. 595,   § 2), and “[r]elating to crimes and punishment,” State v. Bell, 280 Minn. 55, 56, 157 N.W.2d 760, 761 (1968) (considering 1963 Minn. Laws ch. 753). 

Both the original enactment and subsequent amendments to Minn. Stat. §§ 609.342, .343 have similar titles.  See, e.g.,1998 Minn. Laws ch. 367 art. 6, § 15 (“An act relating to crime prevention and judiciary finance . . . .”); 1985 Minn. Laws ch. 286, §§ 14-16 (“An act relating to children and families . . . merging the crimes of ‘intrafamilial sexual abuse’ and ‘criminal sexual conduct’ . . . .”); 1975 Minn. Laws ch. 374, §§ 2 – 4 (“An act relating to crimes; specifying the acts constituting sexual offenses  . . . .”).  Given that these titles provide a plain description of their respective acts, the titles provide reasonable notice of the acts’ contents.  See, e.g., 1998 Minn. Laws ch. 367 art. 6, § 15 (criminal justice system); 1985 Minn. Laws ch. 286 (child welfare).  When every reasonable presumption is taken in favor of constitutionality, we conclude that these acts do not violate the titling requirements of the Minnesota Constitution.

II.

            Taylor next argues that Minn. Stat. §§ 609.342, .343 violate the Minnesota Constitution because they do not contain an enactment clause.  Minn. Const. art. IV, § 22 provides in relevant part, “[t]he style of all laws of this state shall be:  ‘Be it enacted by the legislature of the state of Minnesota.’”  In support of his claim, Taylor cites Sjoberg v. Sec. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, a case in which the enactment clause of an act was omitted.  73 Minn. 203, 75 N.W. 1116 (1898).  The Minnesota Supreme Court held that an enactment clause is mandatory and that a statute without one is void.  Id. at 214, 75 N.W. at 1119. 

            Minnesota follows the “journal entry rule” under which the journals of the legislature must be examined to determine whether the constitutional prerequisites to the enactment of a law have been satisfied.  State ex rel. Foster v. Naftalin, 246 Minn. 181, 187, 74 N.W.2d 249, 254 (1956).  Copies of Minnesota statutes need not contain the enactment clauses of the statutes contained therein.  See Minn. Stat. § 3C.08 (2002).  A review of session laws containing the acts under which Taylor was convicted clearly establishes that they possess the constitutionally required enactment clauses.  See, e.g., 1998 Minn. Laws ch. 367 art. 3, §§ 7, 8 (“Be it enacted by the legislature of the state of Minnesota: . . .”); 1975 Minn. Laws ch. 374, §§ 2 – 4 (same).  Taylor thus does not establish any facts to support his claim for postconviction relief.  See Ledden v. State, ___ N.W.2d ___, ___, 2004 WL 2162853 at *4 (Minn. App. 2004).  Accordingly, we conclude that the district court properly denied his motion for postconviction relief.

            Affirmed.