This opinion will be unpublished and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
In the Matter of the Welfare of:
Filed October 10, 2006
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 27-J4-05-50690
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael K. Walz, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Sara L.
Martin, Assistant State Public Defender,
Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
This appeal is from an order certifying appellant T.M.W. to stand trial as an adult on charges of first-degree aggravated robbery, first-degree assault, and first-degree burglary. Because we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence at the certification hearing, or in certifying appellant to stand trial as an adult, we affirm.
filed two juvenile delinquency petitions alleging that appellant T.M.W. was
delinquent because he had committed various criminal offenses in the course of
two incidents, both occurring on January 11, 2005. The first petition alleged that appellant
broke into a private home in
appellant was 16 years old, and the petitions charged him with felony offenses
carrying presumptive executed sentences under the sentencing guidelines, the
state moved to certify him to stand trial as an adult under the
presumptive-certification statute. See
certification study listed 15 offenses in
At the certification hearing, a number of witnesses testified concerning appellant’s use of drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, and his addiction to DXM, an ingredient readily available in cold medicines such as Coricidin and Robitussin. A number of witnesses also testified that appellant had taken prescribed medications, mostly antidepressants, that included psychotropic medications. The district court, however, ruled inadmissible the proposed testimony of a corrections officer at the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) regarding appellant’s efforts to maintain sobriety. The court also excluded testimony from a chemical-dependency counselor regarding appellant’s intoxication and mental condition at the time of the offense. But the counselor did testify concerning the dangers of DXM and appellant’s history of suicide ideation and attempts. The district court also ruled inadmissible similar testimony from the guardian ad litem.
Dr. Reed, who conducted the psychological evaluation for the certification motion, as well as a rule 20 evaluation, testified for the state. She diagnosed appellant as having a mood and conduct disorder and some degree of mental impairment. After the prosecutor reviewed the statutory “public safety” factors with Dr. Reed, she concluded that those factors weighed in favor of adult certification. On cross-examination, Dr. Reed conceded that her initial recommendation was that appellant be handled as an extended jurisdiction juvenile (EJJ). She admitted that appellant stated that he had taken “copious” amounts of Coricidin before the charged offenses.
officer Turrentine testified that the
The district court granted the state’s certification motions, concluding that the charged offense was “very serious in terms of public safety” and that the victim’s injury required surgery and hospitalization for ten days. The court found that appellant’s “suicidal mental state” following the offenses “constitutes substantial grounds which may mitigate the offender’s culpability under the guidelines.” But, after noting appellant’s 15 prior delinquent offenses, and applying the other statutory factors, the court concluded that appellant had failed to show that retaining him in EJJ would best serve public safety. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
argues that the district court abused its discretion, and violated his right to
present a defense to certification, by excluding evidence concerning
appellant’s drug use at the time of the offense and evidence regarding his
subsequent attempts to maintain sobriety.
This court reviews evidentiary rulings for a clear abuse of
discretion. State v. Amos, 658 N.W.2d 201, 203 (
Appellant first argues that the district court abused its discretion in excluding evidence as to his intoxication at the time of the offense, as well as his mental condition at that time. Appellant argues that his mental state and drug use at the time of the offense are highly relevant to his likelihood of reoffending and to the risk he poses to public safety.
As the state points out, the district court allowed significant testimony regarding both appellant’s mental condition and his drug use at the time of the offense. The probation officer testified that appellant took one prescription pill before assaulting the victim of the residential burglary, that police found white powder in the house and an empty can of air duster . . ., and that the victim described appellant as talking nonsense. Dr. Reed testified that appellant had many pill bottles in the car when he was arrested and that he told police he had taken “copious amounts” of Coricidin before the offense.
A party seeking relief
on appeal must show prejudice as a result of the district court’s rulings. See In re Welfare of D.T.N., 508
N.W.2d 790, 797 (
Appellant next argues that the district court abused its discretion by excluding testimony from a JDC employee and the guardian ad litem regarding appellant’s attempts to maintain sobriety. The district court ruled that the JDC employee lacked expertise in chemical dependency and, therefore, her testimony lacked proper foundation. The court ruled that the guardian ad litem’s testimony would be cumulative to that of appellant’s parents and the JDC staff members who testified for the defense.
The defense was permitted to present testimony of a correctional officer that appellant was an “excellent resident” of the JDC. And Dr. Reed’s report noted that appellant had done well in treatment programs and had abstained from chemicals during certain periods. This evidence tended to establish appellant’s compliance with juvenile programming and his past efforts to maintain sobriety. Given appellant’s failure to make a detailed offer of proof as to the evidence excluded by the district court and the similar evidence elsewhere in the record, appellant has not shown that the district court’s ruling had a significant impact on the court’s decision to certify him. See id.
court will reverse a certification order only if the district court’s findings
are clearly erroneous so as to constitute an abuse of discretion. In re
determining whether to certify a juvenile to stand trial as an adult, the court
must consider: (1) the seriousness of the offense; (2) the culpability of the
child in committing the offense; (3) the child’s prior record of delinquency;
(4) the child’s programming history; (5) the adequacy of punishment and
programming available in the juvenile system; and (6) the dispositional options
available for the child.
the evidence regarding the seriousness of the offense and appellant’s prior
record of delinquency is significant. The
seriousness of a residential burglary involving the stabbing of a resident and
the infliction of great bodily harm is self-evident. And appellant’s prior record of 15 felony
reviewing the other statutory factors, the district court found that appellant’s
culpability in committing the charged offenses was great because he acted
alone. We agree. Although appellant presented some evidence of
mental impairment, there was no confirmed diagnosis of a severe mental
impairment that would significantly mitigate the offense. See
The district court found that appellant’s programming history weighed in favor of certification. We agree. Although the district court relied in part on academic institutions and treatment programs chosen by appellant’s parents that may not be relevant “programming” to the same extent as court-ordered treatment programs, the record indicated that appellant, while cooperative in treatment, failed to abstain from drugs after treatment, or even, in some cases, while in the treatment program.
on the last two factors, the district court found that while EJJ might provide
adequate programming, it did not provide adequate punishment for appellant’s
On this record, we cannot conclude that the district court’s findings are clearly erroneous so as to constitute an abuse of discretion. The two most weighty statutory factors heavily favor certification, and the remaining factors tend to add some additional support to the district court’s decision. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying appellant to stand trial as an adult.