This opinion will be unpublished and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
Bradley Larry Hatch,
Filed August 8, 2006
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 5039843
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800
Steven M. Tallen, 4560 IDS Center,
Stephen V. Grigsby,
Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Parker, Judge.*
Appellant challenges the district court order dismissing a reissued criminal complaint with prejudice and barring further prosecution of respondent for driving while impaired (DWI), careless driving, and hit and run, arguing that the district court erred by dismissing the reissued complaint. Because we conclude that appellant’s dismissal under Minn. R. Crim. P. 30.01 was not in bad faith and did not violate respondent’s speedy-trial rights, we reverse.
In June 2005, respondent Bradley Larry Hatch was charged with two counts of third-degree DWI in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1; careless driving in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.13, subd. 2; and failing to stop and notify police of damage to property in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.09, subd. 5; after a witness reported that respondent drove his vehicle into a pole and then fled the scene.
On the first day of the scheduled trial in August 2005, appellant notified the court that it was unable to proceed because its chief witness was unavailable to testify due to paternity leave. When respondent refused appellant’s offer to dismiss the remaining counts if respondent pleaded guilty to careless driving, appellant moved to dismiss the case, stating its intention to promptly recharge respondent. Over respondent’s objection, the court dismissed the case without prejudice.
One week later, appellant reissued the complaint, recharging respondent with the same counts. A trial was scheduled for early December 2005, but was continued until late January 2005, after respondent served a notice to remove the assigned judge.
On the first day of the trial, respondent moved to bar further prosecution arguing that, “The state abused its discretion in dismissing and then recharging by doing so exclusively to get a tactical advantage and to circumvent the court’s jurisdiction and violated the due process rights of [respondent].” Respondent argued that the dismissal and recharging constituted an improper “continuance de facto.”
The district court granted the motion on two grounds. First, the district court stated that appellant abused its discretion in dismissing the original complaint under Minn. R. Crim. P. 30.01. Second, the court indicated that dismissal of the reissued complaint was warranted because the prosecutor’s untimely dismissal of the original complaint, after respondent was fully prepared to proceed to trial, violated respondent’s rights. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
appellant argues that its appeal is proper because a dismissal has a critical
impact on its case. Although respondent did not
file a brief, we decide the appeal on the merits.
“Critical impact is a threshold showing that must be made in order for an
appellate court to have jurisdiction.” State v. Baxter, 686 N.W.2d 846, 850 (
Appellant argues that it was not an abuse of its discretion under Minn. R. Crim. P. 30.01 to dismiss and recharge respondent’s case, and, therefore, the district court erred by dismissing the reissued complaint and barring further prosecution.
of a rule of procedure is a legal question, which we review de novo. State
v. Breuhl, 615 N.W.2d 375, 377 (
later recharging defendant with driving while impaired), review denied (Minn. Apr. 20, 1999) (quotation omitted).
Here, appellant dismissed the original complaint, stating on the record its intention to recharge at a later date. And appellant explained the rationale for the dismissal; namely, that it had just learned that its chief witness was unavailable and unaware of the court appearance due to a clerical mix-up at the police station. Under the plain language of rule 30.01, this dismissal was a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
Further, there is no indication that the dismissal and recharging was done in “bad faith.” See id. (permitting dismissal and later recharging under rule 30.01 in absence of bad faith). The record demonstrates that appellant believed that the officer would appear for trial; reported the discovery of the officer’s unavailability to both defense counsel and the court as soon as it became aware of the problem; offered to let respondent plead guilty to the lesser disposition of careless driving in lieu of trial; and fully explained the situation to defense counsel and the district court, including its intent to recharge, before dismissing the complaint under rule 30.01. And the district court acknowledged that the dismissal occurred “for reasons that [the prosecutor] indicated, none of which were his fault and none of which were anyone’s fault[.]” Consequently, there is no indication of “bad faith” in appellant’s dismissal under rule 30.01.
The district court also concluded that the dismissal constituted a de factocontinuance that violated respondent’s rights. Implicitly, the district court concluded that the de factocontinuance resulted in a violation of respondent’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.
The right to a
speedy trial is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States
Constitution and by article I, section 6, of the Minnesota Constitution. Whether a pretrial delay constitutes a
deprivation of this right depends on the balancing of four factors: “(1) the length of the delay, (2) the reason
for the delay, (3) whether the defendant asserted his or her right to a speedy
trial, and (4) whether the delay prejudiced the defendant.” State
v. DeRosier, 695 N.W.2d 97, 108-09 (
The first factor,
length of delay, is a triggering mechanism that determines whether
consideration of the other factors is necessary. Barker,
The second factor
focuses on the reasons for the delay and the weights to be assigned to those
reasons. State v. Brooke, 381 N.W.2d 885, 888 (
The third factor
involves the “frequency and force” of a defendant’s assertion of his right to a
speedy trial. State v. Friberg, 435 N.W.2d 509, 515 (
The fourth factor,
whether a defendant has been prejudiced by the delay, encompasses three
concerns: (1) preventing oppressive pretrial incarceration; (2) minimizing
the anxiety of the accused; and (3) limiting impairment of the defense. Barker,
Because appellant properly exercised its discretion under Minn. R. Crim. P. 30.01 in dismissing the original complaint and recharging respondent and, in so doing, did not violate respondent’s speedy-trial rights, the district court erred by dismissing the reissued complaint and barring further prosecution.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Jeopardy was not raised by respondent or the district court, and appellant
properly concludes that jeopardy is not an issue in this case. Jeopardy does not attach until after the jury
is impaneled and sworn in. State v. McDonald, 298