This opinion will
be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed November 22, 2005
Cass County District Court
File No. KX-04-314
Mike Hatch, Attorney General,
Kristen M. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota
Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101-2130; and
Earl E. Maus, Cass County
Attorney, Christopher Strandlie, Assistant County Attorney, 300 Minnesota
Avenue, P.O. Box 3000, Walker, Minnesota 56484-3000 (for respondent)
Joel Foreman, Blair W. Nelson,
Ltd., 1421 Bemidji Avenue North,
56601 (for appellant)
and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S
H E D O P I N I O N
appeal from a conviction of fifth-degree controlled substance crime, appellant
argues that the proceedings violated his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial
and his right to equal protection because Native Americans were
underrepresented and systematically excluded from his jury pool. Appellant also argues that the district court
improperly allowed admission of a controlled substance into evidence without an
established chain of custody. Because Cass County
did not systematically exclude Native Americans from its jury pools, and
because the controlled substance evidence was sufficiently authenticated, we
city police arrested appellant Robert Staples in the early morning of March 21,
2004, when an officer opened appellant’s cigarette case and discovered a small
bindle of what the officer believed to be a rock of cocaine. The state charged appellant with, among other
crimes, fifth-degree controlled substance crime, possession, in violation of
Minn. Stat. § 152.025, subd. 2(1) (2002).
The district court held trial, and the jury found appellant guilty. The district court sentenced appellant to probation. This appeal follows.
trial was initially scheduled for May 20, 2004.
Appellant, who is Native American, challenged the venire drawn in his
case on the grounds that Native Americans were underrepresented in the panel
due to systematic exclusion in the juror-selection process. None of the 29 potential jurors summoned on
that day identified themselves as Native American.
the Ninth Judicial district, including Cass
County, the names of potential jurors
are randomly drawn from a source list compiled from the county’s voter
registration, drivers’ license, and registered Minnesota identification card holders lists. The drivers’ license and voter registration
lists do not provide demographic information, such as race. Cass
County does not use any
supplemental lists containing only Native American names to assure a minimum
number of Native Americans in each jury pool.
year, Cass County receives a master source list from
the state containing 2,500 randomly selected names. After compilation of this source list, the
jury administrator sends a juror qualification questionnaire and summons to 250
random prospective jurors. The court
does not get demographics information until a prospective juror completes the
juror qualification questionnaire and returns it to the court. The jury commissioner uses the returned
questionnaires to determine whether the juror should be excused, deferred, or
assigned to service. Those assigned to
service remain on the panel for a period of four months. Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 806(e) provides
that the jury commissioner for each district court should review the source
list once every four years for its inclusiveness of the county’s adult
population and report the results to the district’s chief judge. Cass
County has not compiled
any reports examining the inclusiveness of jury panels within the last four
a hearing, the district court granted appellant’s motion to strike the pool of
jurors by order dated May 20, 2004, finding that the jury panel was clearly
reflective of systematic deficiencies, resulting in an underrepresentation of
Native Americans. The district court
stayed proceedings against appellant until the jury commissioner could assemble
a jury that was more reflective of the composition of the county.
selection for appellant’s trial started on July 20, 2004; there was one Native
American in the pool of 31 potential jurors summoned, but that person was not
randomly selected for appellant’s panel.
Appellant renewed his motion to strike the panel.
district court denied appellant’s motion at trial and issued its findings of
fact, conclusions of law, and order on August 9, 2004. The district court noted that Cass County
revised its jury administration plan after appellant’s initial trial date of
May 20, 2004, and now requires the gathering and analysis of jury system
performance data on an annual basis in compliance with the jury management
rules. The district court found that
Native Americans comprise 9.9% of the 18- to 70-year olds that are eligible for
jury service, but only 7.4% of the jury pool in the first eight months of 2004. The district court determined that Native
American representation on jury pools was still 25% lower than what pure
probabilities would predict, but it was a marked increase over the disparity
known and shown on the trial date of May 20, 2004. Acknowledging the “simple truth” that there
are a high number of Native American defendants in Cass County and a low number
of Native American jurors, the district court found that the jury venire
assembled on July 20th could contribute to a fair trial for appellant.
D E C I S I O N
first challenges the district court’s decision denying his motion to stay
proceedings and strike the venire, arguing that his Sixth Amendment right to a
fair trial was denied because Native Americans were underrepresented and
systematically excluded from the jury pool in Cass County. Whether appellant demonstrated a prima facie
showing that his jury venire violated the Sixth Amendment presents a
constitutional issue, which this court reviews de novo. See
generally State v. Manning, 532
N.W.2d 244, 247 (Minn. App. 1995) (indicating that constitutional challenges
are questions of law), review denied
(Minn. July 20, 1995).
Sixth Amendment requires that the pool from which a jury is drawn reflect a
representative cross-section of the community.
Taylor v. Louisiana,
419 U.S. 522, 528, 95 S. Ct. 692, 697 (1975).
This fair cross-section of the community requirement is limited and does
not guarantee a defendant a jury of a particular racial composition or one that
mirrors the community’s racial proportions.
at 537–38, 95 S. Ct. at 702. To establish a prima facie showing that the
jury venire from which a jury was selected did not satisfy the fair
cross-section of the community requirement, a defendant must show: (1) that the
group allegedly excluded is a “distinctive” group in the community; (2) that
the group in question was not fairly represented in the venire;
and (3) that the underrepresentation was a result of a “systematic” exclusion
of that group in question from the jury selection process. Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S.
357, 364, 99 S. Ct. 664, 668 (1979); State
v. Williams, 525 N.W.2d 538, 542 (Minn.
that the jury selection process in Cass
County is facially
neutral and has not been administered with bias or ill will, appellant argues
that the record evidence demonstrates a systematic exclusion of Native
Americans from jury venires because the jury administrator failed to comply
with the requirement in Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 806 to review the composition of
jury pools and attempt to address any underrepresentation discovered upon
Minnesota Supreme Court defines systematic exclusion as “unfair or inadequate
selection procedures used by the state rather than, e.g., a higher percentage of ‘no shows’ on the part of people
belonging to the group in question.” Williams, 525 N.W.2d at 543. In Duren,the Supreme Court found that a systematic
discrepancy occurred at the summons stage, when the county gave women the
opportunity to exercise an automatic exemption.
439 U.S. at 367, 99 S. Ct. at 670. Courts
have also found systematic exclusion to be shown where a computer error resulted
in the exclusion of individuals from two regions where a large proportion of
racial and ethnic minorities lived, and where the county selected jurors based
on wholly subjective criteria. See United States v. Jackman, 46
F.3d 1240 (2d Cir. 1995); Gibson v. Zant,
705 F.2d 1543 (11th Cir. 1983). In
contrast, the Minnesota Supreme Court found that the Hennepin
County jury selection system that used
registered voters, drivers’ licenses, and registered Minnesota identification card holders to
select the jury pool did not systematically exclude minorities. State
v. Roan, 532 N.W.2d 563, 569 (Minn.
appellant established that Cass
County had not complied
with rule 806(e), the failure of the jury administrator to conduct the mandated
review did not necessarily contribute to a systematic exclusion of Native
Americans. Absent this noncompliance,
the Cass County jury selection procedure is
indistinguishable from that upheld in Roan. If the jury selection procedure itself does
not systematically exclude Native Americans, the failure to review that process
does not produce a systematic exclusion.
Accordingly, appellant failed to meet his burden of establishing that
the underrepresentation of Native Americans resulted from systematic exclusion.
next challenges the district court’s decision denying his motion to strike the
venire on the grounds that the jury selection process violated his right to
equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. To establish
a prima facie showing that his jury was selected in violation of his right to
equal protection, appellant must show that the jury selection process resulted
in a sufficient degree of underrepresentation over a significant period of
time. Castaneda v. Partida, 430 U.S.
482, 494, 97 S. Ct. 1272, 1280
(1977). A selection process that is susceptible
of abuse or is not racially neutral supports the presumption of
discrimination. Id. Appellant has not demonstrated either a sufficient
degree of underrepresentation or that a random and anonymous jury selection
process based on voter registration, drivers’ licenses, and state
identification cards is susceptible of abuse or not racially neutral. See
Floyd v. Garrison, 996 F.2d 947, 949–50 (8th Cir. 1993) (holding that the
sole use of voter registration lists to select jury pools did not violate equal
protection because there was no indication that African Americans were
prevented from registering to vote).
appellant challenges the district court’s decision admitting the controlled
substance into evidence, arguing that respondent failed to demonstrate a
sufficient chain of custody. The
standard of review of the adequacy of foundation for the admission of evidence
is whether the district court abused its discretion. State
v. Williams, 337 N.W.2d 689, 691 (Minn.
Rules of Evidence 901(a) (2004) provides: “The requirement of authentication or
identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by
evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what
its proponent claims.” When evidence is
not unique or readily identifiable, the evidence must be authenticated by means
of chain of custody. State v. Hager, 325 N.W.2d 43, 44 (Minn. 1982). The supreme court described the necessary
showing to establish a sufficient chain of custody in State v. Johnson, 307 Minn.
501, 239 N.W.2d 239 (1976):
There can be no rigid formulation of
what showing is necessary in order for a particular item of evidence to be
admissible. Rather, admissibility must
be left to the sound discretion of the trial judge. He must be satisfied that, in all reasonable
probability, the item offered is the same as the item seized and is
substantially unchanged in condition.
Admissibility should not depend on
the prosecution negativing all possibility of tampering or substitution, but
rather only that it is reasonably probable that tampering or substitution did
not occur. Contrary speculation may well
affect the weight of the evidence accorded it by the factfinder but does not
affect its admissibility.
at 504–05, 239 N.W.2d at 242 (citations omitted); see also Hager, 325 N.W.2d at 44 (reaffirming Johnson after the adoption of Minn. R. Evid. 901(a)). If, upon consideration of the evidence as a
whole, the court determines that the evidence is sufficient to support a
finding by a reasonable juror that the matter in question is what its proponent
claims, the evidence will be admitted. Hager, 325 N.W.2d at 44.
Here, the arresting officer
testified at trial that he stored the bindle recovered from appellant’s
cigarette case in his evidence locker at the police station. The officer testified that he locked his
evidence locker, and that no other person had access. Three weeks after appellant’s arrest, the
officer transported the bindle to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) lab
in Bemidji for
testing. The officer testified that he
transported the bindle on the next occasion when he was traveling from Cass Lake to
Bemidji in his
police vehicle. While at the BCA, the
arresting officer turned the evidence over to Dorothy Gnoinsky. The report of the examination of physical
evidence indicates that Amy Granlund actually tested the substance. Neither Gnoinsky nor Granlund testified at
trial. But, the arresting officer
testified that the substance admitted into evidence was in the same condition
as when he seized it from appellant and submitted it to the BCA.
evidence is sufficient for a reasonable juror to find that the substance
admitted into evidence was the same substance taken from appellant. Appellant correctly notes that there is no
testimony from either BCA employee stating that the evidence was not tampered
with while in their possession. But, the
arresting officer’s testimony confirms that the substance admitted into
evidence was in the same condition as when he delivered it to the BCA. Furthermore, in the absence of any indication
of substitution, alteration, or other form of tampering, reasonable protective
measures, including the use of notes, identification numbers, and labels, are
sufficient. Hager, 325 N.W.2d at 44.
Here, the BCA lab report indicates that the BCA assigned the substance a
lab number and labeled it as pertaining to appellant’s case. Although the arresting officer did use
different terms to describe the substance taken from appellant in his testimony
and report, the officer also testified that both terms are slang and synonymous. Accordingly, the record evidence does not
support appellant’s argument that there is a reasonable probability that
tampering or substitution occurred. The
district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the controlled