This opinion will be unpublished and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
One 2002 GMC
Filed June 7, 2005
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 03-20343
Steven M. Tallen, Tallen & Baertschi, 4640 IDS Center, 80 South 8th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.
This case involves a dispute between two neighboring police departments over the proper distribution of proceeds from a motor-vehicle forfeiture. Appellant South Lake Minnetonka Police Department challenges the district court’s order permitting the Deephaven Police Department to receive 70% of forfeiture proceeds due for the policing agency, arguing that it was the “appropriate agency” entitled to receive this part of the forfeiture proceeds under Minnesota’s vehicle-forfeiture statute. Because appellant’s seizure of the vehicle was made pursuant to Deephaven’s request for mutual assistance under the Hennepin County Chiefs of Police Association Mutual Aid Pact (mutual aid pact), Deephaven is the “appropriate agency” entitled to the vehicle-forfeiture proceeds in question, and we affirm.
circumstances unfolding in mid-November 2003,
locating the vehicle described by
Mixon had two prior implied consent revocations on his driving record in the
past 10 years, the two officers determined that his vehicle was subject to
Approximately one month later, on December 17, 2003, Mixon challenged the forfeiture by filing a complaint and demand for judicial determination under Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 8(d) (2002). The complaint was served upon Deephaven and not upon South Lake Minnetonka. Two days later, Deephaven served an amended “notice of seizure and intent to forfeit vehicle” upon Mixon by certified mail.
Just prior to trial, several months later, Deephaven and Mixon agreed to a settlement whereby Deephaven would return a stereo speaker from the vehicle in return for Mixon’s agreement to the forfeiture. The district court then directed the parties to execute a “Stipulation of Dismissal.” Based on that stipulation, the court would then dismiss the matter with prejudice. On April 22, Mixon’s attorney filed a noncompliant “notice of dismissal,” which was signed only by Mixon’s attorney.
A few days later, South Lake Minnetonka informed the court that it was not aware of the April 16 hearing. South Lake Minnetonka then submitted a motion to stay entry of judgment, which the court granted “to consider which police agency is deemed to be the ‘appropriate agency’ for purposes of forfeiting [Mixon’s] vehicle.”
South Lake Minnetonka and Deephaven were represented by their respective city
attorneys at the subsequent hearing. The
district court vacated the previous stay of judgment and ordered that Deephaven
execute an original stipulation of dismissal per the original settlement
agreement forfeiting the vehicle to Deephaven.
After finding jurisdiction in the case because counsel had failed to
prepare and properly execute a mutually signed stipulation of dismissal, the
district court concluded that both police departments were authorized by law to
pursue the forfeiture against Mixon. But
relying on the mutual aid pact, which “permit[s] agencies to share law
enforcement resources with other agencies in
Minnetonka primarily argues that it is an “appropriate agency,” the police
agency that is the proper recipient of a majority of the forfeiture proceeds
under Minn. Stat. § 169A.63 (2002).
Whether a statute has been properly construed is a question of law
reviewed de novo by this court.
and once forfeiture has been accomplished, the “appropriate agency” is
permitted to sell the vehicle and distribute the proceeds.
The parties each assert that Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd.
10(b), governs this dispute. And the
record clearly supports the fact that Deephaven’s city attorney is the
“prosecuting authority that handled the forfeiture” or “the attorney in the
jurisdiction in which the designated offense occurred who is responsible for
prosecuting violations of a designated offense or a designee.”
“Appropriate agency” is defined as the “law enforcement
agency that has the authority to make an arrest for a violation of a designated
offense or to require a test under section 169A.51 (chemical tests for
In resolving the dispute before it, the district court relied heavily on the mutual aid pact that was signed by both South Lake Minnetonka and Deephaven and the “Joint and Cooperative Agreement for Use of Law Enforcement Personnel and Equipment.” As the district court explained:
. . .
Pursuant to this
agreement, “participating parties can utilize the resources for many reasons
including routine circumstances . . . such as back up patrol service.” The request that
the pact provides that “[m]anagement of a mutual aid situation remains under
the control of the requesting party.” In
other words, in spite of his request for assistance,
The court concluded that the mutual aid pact dictated that Deephaven was a “requesting party” authorized to conduct the forfeiture and the “appropriate agency” entitled to the proceeds from it. This conclusion is dictated by the pact.
In the circumstances of this case, the mutual aid pact establishes a relationship between the two police departments whereby, the one, Deephaven’s, controls the other, South Lake Minnetonka’s. This control results in a relationship that involves appellant’s role as the Deephaven police department’s agent. Although South Lake Minnetonka has legal authority to act as it did, independent of the mutual aid pact, this agreement governs both these agencies, where one asks for help of the other.
initial matter, “whether an agency relationship exists is generally a question
for the jury, unless the evidence is conclusive.” Duluth
Superior Erection, Inc. v. Concrete Restorers, Inc.,665 N.W.2d 528, 534 (
In order to create an agency there must be an agreement, but not necessarily a contract between the parties. An agreement may result in the creation of an agency relationship although the parties did not call it an agency and did not intend the legal consequences of the relation to follow.
A. Gay Jenson Farms Co. v. Cargill, Inc., 309 N.W.2d 285, 290 (
Deephaven specifically requested
South Lake Minnetonka’s assistance, asking South Lake Minnetonka to “check on”
the vehicle in order to see whether Mixon was driving it.
Because the mutual aid pact establishes the relationships of the parties in this case, we have no occasion to adjudicate the meaning of “authority to make an arrest” under the vehicle-forfeiture statute. This decision is confined to the facts and circumstances of two law enforcement agencies acting pursuant to the mutual aid pact, where Deephaven initiated the arrest within its jurisdiction by requesting aid and assistance from South Lake Minnetonka. The language of the mutual aid pact and the joint and cooperative agreement make it evident that Deephaven—in its role as the “requesting party”—continued to exercise control over the arrest, even though South Lake Minnetonka actually effectuated the arrest. As the district court determined, pursuant to the mutual aid pact, South Lake Minnetonka (the sending party) acted under the control and authority of Deephaven (the requesting party). Accordingly, and in light of the relationship established by the mutual aid pact, Deephaven is entitled to 70% of the forfeiture proceeds as the law enforcement agency with “the authority to make an arrest.”
Our decision on appeal makes it unnecessary to review questions concerning the district court’s determination that South Lake Minnetonka waived its right to intervene in the case and was not an indispensable party for the decision on distribution of the forfeiture proceeds.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
While the legality of the stop is not at issue here,
 The notice served on November 18 was outdated and cited the former vehicle-forfeiture statute, Minn. Stat. § 169.1217 (2000).
 Mixon’s attorney captioned the document as a “stipulation of dismissal.” The court’s clerk’s office then re-captioned it as a “notice of dismissal.”
Unlike some states,
There is no question that
 Under the joint-and-cooperative agreement, “requesting party” means “a [p]arty that requests [l]aw [e]nforcement [a]ssistance from other [p]arties.” “Sending party” means “a [p]arty that provides [l]aw [e]nforcement [a]ssistance to a requesting party.”