This opinion will be unpublished and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
Lincoln J. Brown, petitioner,
Filed June 7, 2005
Carlton County District Court
File No. CV-04-1014
Lincoln J. Brown, 1111 Highway 73,
Mike Hatch, Minnesota Attorney General, Angela M. Helseth
Assistant Attorney General,
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Minge, Judge, and Wright, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion in denying him a jury trial in his commitment action as a sex offender. We affirm.
Appellant, Lincoln J. Brown, is 30 years old. Appellant repeatedly sexually assaulted his 11-year old sister from February 1992 through March 1993. He was 16 years old when the abuse began. He forced her to perform oral sex, insert a miniature baseball bat into his anus and participate in various other sexual acts. During the same timeframe, appellant molested two of his female cousins. He placed his hands on their buttocks over their clothing and would have proceeded further had adults not interrupted him. Also, he admitted to sexual contact with his uncle’s dog. In addition, he had several run-ins with the law, including alleged assaults against his parents and a mall security guard. He was also caught stealing a car while possessing a shotgun.
charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct for abusing his sister. Appellant pleaded guilty. On July 21, 1993, the juvenile court
adjudicated appellant delinquent and ordered residential sex offender
treatment. While a resident of the
treatment facility, appellant tried to get his roommate to perform oral sex on
him, and, also, wrote a sexually-explicit threatening letter to a female
resident. On August 4, 1994,
On July 12, 2004, appellant filed the underlying state habeas petition in Carlton County District Court. Appellant asserted he was entitled to, but did not receive, a jury trial. He claims his right under both the state and federal constitutions. On October 27, 2004, the district court rejected appellant’s habeas petition and issued Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and an Order for Judgment. The court entered judgment on the same day. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
challenges the constitutionality of the
Whether a statute is constitutional is a question of law subject to de novo review. When considering the constitutionality of a statute, we are mindful that laws come to this court with a presumption of validity and may be declared unconstitutional only with great caution and if absolutely necessary. A person challenging the constitutionality of a statute has the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the statute violates a claimed right.
In re Kindschy, 634 N.W.2d 723, 729 (Minn. App.
2001) (citations omitted), review denied (
first argues that he was entitled to a jury trial in this civil commitment
proceeding under the Minnesota Constitution. We disagree.
A state constitutional right to a jury trial exists whenever the right
existed in the
understand appellant’s argument and recognize the growing body of authority
tending toward jury trials in sex offender civil commitment proceedings. However, appellant’s claim in
This court, in several recent
unpublished decisions, has refused to address the issue of whether Professor
Erlinder is correct, concluding that “[i]t is the province of the supreme court
to make new law on this issue, if a change in the existing law is
required.” In re Larsen,
A03-1410, 2004 WL 1049844, at *5 (Minn. App. May 11, 2004), review denied (
next argues that he is entitled to a jury trial under the United States
Constitution. We disagree. Recently, in Poole v. Goodno, 335 F.3d
705, 710-11 (8th Cir. 2003), the Eighth Circuit held that federal due process
does not require a jury trial before a person is committed as a Sexually
Dangerous Person (SDP) under
The Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial does not apply to state court proceedings. See City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 719, 119 S. Ct. 1624, 1643 (1999) (stating that it is settled law that the Seventh Amendment does not apply to suits brought in state court); see also United States v. Sahhar, 917 F.2d 1197, 1206-07 (9th Cir. 1990) (rejecting claim that due process provides right to jury trial in civil commitment proceedings); Genzel v. Halvorson, 248 Minn. 527, 531, 80 N.W.2d 854, 857-58 (1957) (stating that Seventh Amendment does not apply to the states).
reiterated in a number of recent published and unpublished opinions that there
is no federal constitutional right to a jury trial in civil commitment
proceedings in the State of
 This argument has been addressed in a number of recent decisions by this court.
Appellant’s argument mirrors a recent law review article that challenges the
supreme court’s holdings that the state constitution does not guarantee a right
to a jury trial in civil commitment proceedings. See C. Peter Erlinder, Essay: Of Rights Lost and Rights Found: The Coming Restoration of the Right to a Jury
 In his law review article, Professor Erlinder
points to the following jurisdictions which require a jury trial in sex
offender civil commitment proceedings: Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 36-3706 (2001); Cal.
Wel. & Inst. Code § 6602.5 (2001); Colo. Rev. Stat. § 27-10-109 (2001);
D.C. Code Ann. § 21- 545 (2001); Fla. Stat. § 394.916 (2002); 405 Ill. Comp.
Stat. 5/3-802 (2002); Iowa Code §229A.7 (2002); Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-29a03
(2001); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 202.140, repealed
by Act of 1968, ch. 90, § 63 (as interpreted by Denton v. Commonwealth, 383 S.W.2d 681, 682 (Ky. 1964)); Mo. Rev.
Stat. § 632.495 (2001); N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law §9.35 (McKinney 2002); S.C. Code.
Ann. § 44-48-90 (2001);