This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).







State of Minnesota,





Luke D. Anderson,



Filed July 11, 2006

Reversed and remanded

Willis, Judge


St. Louis County District Court

File No. K4-05-600259


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101-2134; and


Alan L. Mitchell, St. Louis County Attorney, Leslie E. Beiers, Assistant County Attorney, 100 North Fifth Avenue West, #501, Duluth, MN  55802-1298 (for respondent)


Jenny Chaplinski, Special Assistant Public Defender, 212 Third Avenue North, Suite 545, Minneapolis, MN  55401 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Huspeni, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant challenges the revocation of his probation, arguing that the district court did not make the necessary findings under State v. Austin, 295 N.W.2d 246 (Minn. 1980).  We agree, and reverse and remand for a new hearing.


            In December 2003, appellant Luke Daniel Anderson pleaded guilty to manufacturing methamphetamine.  The district court stayed imposition of an 86-month sentence and placed Anderson on probation for seven years.  Among the conditions of his probation were requirements that he report to a probation officer and not commit the same or a similar offense.  In March 2005, while still on probation, Anderson was arrested for and pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine.  He admitted to the district court that he was aware of the conditions of his probation and that the new offense violated his probation.  He also admitted that he had failed to report to his probation officer.  The district court found Anderson “in violation of the terms and conditions of his probation, specifically regarding admission to the new charge and his failure to report.”  The district court revoked Anderson’s probation, sentenced him to 86 months in prison for the 2003 offense, and imposed a concurrent 15-month prison term for the 2005 offense.  Anderson appeals, arguing that the district court did not make the findings required to revoke his probation.


            Before revoking a defendant’s probation, a district court must make three findings: 

First, courts must designate the specific condition or conditions of probation the defendant has violated.  Second, courts must find the violation was inexcusable or intentional.  Once a court has made findings that a violation has occurred and has found that the violation was either intentional or inexcusable, the court must proceed to the third Austin factor and determine whether the need for confinement outweighs the policies favoring probation.


State v. Modtland, 695 N.W.2d 602, 606 (Minn. 2005) (citing State v. Austin, 295 N.W.2d 246, 250 (Minn. 1980)).[1]  Whether a district court has made the required findings is a question of law, which an appellate court reviews de novo.  Id. at 605.

            This court subsequently interpreted Austin to permit a “sufficient evidence exception” to the requirement that the district court make findings on the three factors.  Id. at 606.  Under this exception, if the district court failed to make the required findings, we could affirm a revocation of probation if sufficient record evidence supported the revocation.  See, e.g., State v. Theel, 532 N.W.2d 265, 267 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. July 20, 1995); Austin, 295 N.W.2d at 250 (affirming a revocation of probation although the district court made no finding regarding the condition of probation that the defendant had violated). 

Modtland abrogated the sufficient-evidence exception, concluding that requiring the district court to make findings on the Austin factors assures the creation of a “thorough, fact-specific” record identifying the substantive reasons for revoking probation.  695 N.W.2d at 608.  Modtland further directs that district courts must do more than recite the Austin factors and offer general, nonspecific reasons for revoking probation because it is not the role of appellate courts to “scour the record to determine if sufficient evidence exists to support the district court’s revocation.”  Id.

            The district court found that Anderson violated two designated conditions of his probation, thereby addressing the first Austin factor.  But while Anderson admitted that he knew the conditions of his probation and that he had violated those conditions, the district court made no finding on the second Austin factor, that is, that the violations were inexcusable or intentional.  And the district court made no finding that the need for confining Anderson outweighs the policies favoring probation, the third Austin factor. 

We therefore reverse the district court’s revocation of Anderson’s probation and remand for a new hearing.  On remand, the district court first must determine whether Anderson’s violations of his probation were inexcusable or intentional.  If it finds the violations inexcusable or intentional, the district court must then determine whether the need for confinement outweighs the policies favoring probation, as directed by Austin and Modtland

Reversed and remanded.

* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1] We note that the district court revoked Anderson’s probation on April 29, 2005, and  Modtland was filed on May 12, 2005.  “Generally, [the Minnesota Supreme Court’s] rulings are given retroactive effect.”  State v. Baird, 654 N.W.2d 105, 110 (Minn. 2002).  Cases that are pending on direct appeal are entitled to the application of the rule of law announced in an opinion of the supreme court.  State v. Lewis, 656 N.W.2d 535, 538 (Minn. 2003).  Therefore, we apply Modtland to this case, recognizing that the district court did not have the benefit of that opinion.