This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of H.R.
Filed April 12, 2005
Hennepin County District Court
File Nos. 249703 & J9-03068131
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Jean 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 2nd Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant H.R.)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
Appellant H.R. was adjudicated delinquent of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Appellant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support the adjudication of delinquency, and that the district court erred by admitting the child victim’s out-of-court statements without ruling on the admissibility of the statements after an evidentiary hearing.
Because, viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the determination, there is sufficient evidence to support the adjudication of delinquency, and because the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the statements, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
1. Sufficiency of Evidence
from a delinquency adjudication, this court is “limited to ascertaining
whether, given the facts and legitimate inferences, a factfinder could
reasonably make that determination.” In
re Welfare of S.M.J., 556 N.W.2d 4, 6 (
rely on the district court’s opportunity to judge the credibility of the
2. Evidentiary Rulings
appellate court reviews the district court’s evidentiary rulings for abuse of
discretion. State v. Amos, 658
N.W.2d 201, 203 (
Minn. Stat. § 595.02, subd. 3 (2002), permits the use of an out-of-court statement made by a child under 10 years of age about an act of sexual contact or penetration as substantive evidence if (a) the court conducts a hearing outside the presence of the jury on the reliability of the statement; (b) the child testifies or, if unavailable, the act is corroborated by other evidence; and (c) the proponent of the statement notifies the adverse party of the intent to offer the statement. Appellant argues that the juvenile court failed to conduct a hearing outside the presence of the jury.
The issue of the out-of-court statements was raised at a pretrial hearing; both counsel argued briefly and the district court took the motion to suppress under advisement, intending to review the offered videotape and synopsis to determine if the questioning had been leading or suggestive. After review and prior to the hearing, the district court issued its order, finding that the videotape and synopsis were not leading or suggestive, and that the child victim was “articulate,” the statements “spontaneous and essentially consistent,” and that there were sufficient “time, place, and circumstance” indicia of reliability. The district court declined to rule on the admissibility of the statements until she knew whether the child would testify, in accordance with the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 595.02, subd. 3.
On the day of the hearing, the parties stipulated to admission of the videotape, synopsis, and medical records. The district court once again declined to rule on admissibility of the victim’s out-of-court statements to her mother until she could determine their reliability. After hearing the mother’s testimony, the district court ruled that the statements were reliable and admitted them.
We conclude that the district court followed the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 595.02, subd. 3. Appellant raised the issue at a pretrial hearing, the district court gave real and careful consideration to the statutory factors governing admissibility of these statements, and the child victim testified at the hearing.
Appellant further contends that although he stipulated to the admissibility of the videotape, synopsis, and medical reports before trial, this stipulation was ineffective because the district court did not specifically rule on whether the out-of-court statements were offered as substantive or corroborative evidence. But Minn. Stat. § 595.02, subd. 3, permits use of an out-of-court statement as substantive evidence if the district court makes the appropriate findings required by the statute. Because the district court found that the evidence had sufficient indicia of reliability, the out-of-court statement could be used as substantive evidence.