This opinion will be
may not be cited except as
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08,
subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
George Howland Jackson,
Filed October 10, 2006
Washington County District Court
File No. T9-05-23960
Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN
C. Ilkka, 1584 Hadley Avenue North,
Oakdale, MN 55128 (for respondent)
Howland Jackson, 1769 Lexington
Avenue North, No. 170, Roseville,
(pro se appellant)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge;
Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D
O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges the
district court’s finding that he is guilty of inattentive driving. Because the evidence was sufficient to
support his conviction, we affirm.
In 2005, police officer Tina Voss issued appellant George
Howland Jackson a ticket for inattentive driving in violation of Minn. Stat.
§ 169.14 (2004). On the ticket, Voss noted that Jackson had nearly sideswiped another vehicle
and slammed on his brakes only when the other car honked to avoid the
collision. Jackson entered a plea of not guilty, and a bench
trial was held.
On the day of trial, Jackson submitted a Rules
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 17 Motion. This motion
was a standard-form motion, with 23 options that could be checked off to request
various forms of relief. Jackson failed to check
any of the boxes. After a brief
discussion, Jackson insisted that he had checked box number five and requested
that the state disclose and allow him the opportunity to inspect and reproduce
any relevant written or recorded statements made by any of the prosecution’s
witnesses. The parties agreed that the
only written statements were a few notes that Officer Voss had written on the
back of the citation filed with the court, and Jackson was given the opportunity to view
At trial, Voss testified
that she saw Jackson’s
vehicle drifting into another vehicle’s lane.
She stated that had Jackson
not slammed on his brakes, there would have been a traffic accident. Voss also testified that Jackson was on his cell phone throughout the
incident. After witnessing the
near-accident, Voss stopped the vehicle that Jackson had nearly hit and spoke briefly with
the driver. Voss noticed that Jackson had pulled into a
gas station parking lot near where she was parked. She did not stop Jackson’s vehicle nor place him under
arrest. She approached the vehicle,
asked for Jackson’s
identification, spoke briefly with him, and issued a citation for inattentive
Jackson testified that he
had exercised due care while driving, explaining that “[h]ad that other car not
hit the brakes, that other car would have collided into me” because “[the other
car] was in the same lane that I was in, trying to overtake me,” although he
previously had alleged that the car was in the lane next to him and that he had
not seen the other car while looking in his mirrors before changing lanes. He alleged that the driver was hostile and
that he was exercising due care by swerving to avoid this driver.
The court found that the
state had met its burden of proof and entered a judgment against Jackson for inattentive
D E C I S I O N
Jackson first alleges that the
district court failed to properly address his pretrial Rules 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,
17 Motion. This motion was a form motion
with 23 different options for relief that could be checked by a defendant in a
criminal case. On the day of trial, Jackson submitted an
unchecked pretrial-motion form. After he
insisted that number five was checked, the district court allowed Jackson sufficient
opportunity to inspect the only written evidence in the case. Given the insufficiency of the pretrial
motion as well as the relative dearth of evidence in the case, the district
court adequately addressed Jackson’s
pretrial motion by allowing him access to the notes written on the back of the
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Jackson appears to argue that the
evidence presented at trial was insufficient to convict him of inattentive
driving since he expands on his explanation of the incident in his pro se
brief. Additionally, Jackson seems to be calling Officer Voss’s
credibility into question by writing “government witness [lies]” in his
affidavit explaining the nature of the appeal and by attempting to discredit Voss’s
testimony in his brief. However,
raises a conjecture as to credibility, he makes no showing that the court
resolved credibility issues improperly.
It is not the province of the appellate court to evaluate the
credibility of witnesses who testified at trial. Dale v.
State, 535 N.W.2d 619, 623 (Minn.
1995). Rather, this court shows great
deference to a fact-finder’s determination of witness credibility. State
v. Dickerson, 481 N.W.2d 840, 843 (Minn. 1992),
aff'd, 508 U.S.
366, 113 S. Ct. 2130 (1993). Therefore, this court does not need to
address the credibility issues Jackson
claim of insufficient evidence, this court’s review is limited to a painstaking
analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the
light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to allow the fact-finder
to reach the verdict that it did. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).
The applicable statute
[no] person shall drive a vehicle on a
highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the
conditions. Every driver is responsible
for becoming and remaining aware of the actual and potential hazards then
existing on the highway and must use due care in operating a vehicle.
Minn. Stat. § 169.14,
subd.1 (2004). Since Voss witnessed
Jackson talking on his cell phone while driving and nearly sideswiping a
vehicle in the adjacent lane, her testimony was sufficient to establish that
Jackson failed to exercise due care while driving. Given Voss’s testimony, the facts in the
record and the legitimate inferences that can be drawn from these facts, the
district court had sufficient evidence to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson was guilty of
It appears that Jackson
attempts to argue that he was seized without probable cause. In his informal brief, Jackson stated that the motion he filed “for
the purpose of addressing constitutional [issues]” was not properly heard by
the district court. Later in his brief, Jackson cites two United
States Supreme Court cases without applying them to the facts before this
court. He appears to argue that an
unlawful seizure took place when Voss approached his parked vehicle and began
questioning him. In his affidavit stating
the nature of the appeal, Jackson
alleges that his constitutional rights, specifically those enumerated in the Fourth,
Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, were violated.
Because it is not within the province of the appellate
court to supply an argument where one is not briefed, this court need not
address the constitutional violations mentioned by Jackson, especially as these arguments were
not raised at trial or in any pretrial motions.
See State, Dep’t of Labor &
Indus. v. Wintz Parcel Drivers, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 480, 480 (Minn. 1997)
(stating that this court declines to address allegations unsupported by legal
analysis or citation); Roby v. State,
547 N.W.2d 354, 357 (Minn. 1996) (stating that court of appeals
generally will not decide issues which were not raised before district court,
including constitutional questions of criminal procedure); State v. Modern Recycling, Inc., 558
N.W.2d 770, 772 (Minn. App. 1997) (holding that assignment of error in
appellate brief, which is based on “mere assertion” and unsupported by argument
or authority, is waived unless prejudice is obvious on mere inspection).
Except for asking Voss
whether she had read him his rights, Jackson
made no mention of constitutional violations during the proceedings. Jackson’s
brief contains a smattering of references to the Fourth Amendment, seizures,
and probable cause, but he fails to apply this terminology to the facts before
this court, and his allegations are unsupported by argument or application of
authority. The district court did not make any
rulings on constitutional issues, and Jackson
fails to expound upon these contentions.
Therefore, we need not address the alleged constitutional
Even if we were to address
the issue of whether Jackson
had been seized without probable cause, it is clear from the record that no
seizure took place. A seizure occurs “when
the officer, by means of physical force or show of authority, has in some way
restrained the liberty of a citizen.” In re Welfare of E.D.J., 502 N.W.2d 779,
781 (Minn. 1993) (quoting Terry v. Ohio,
392 U.S. 1, 19 n.16, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1879 n.16 (1968)).
Examples of circumstances
that might indicate a seizure, even where the person did not attempt to leave,
would be the threatening presence of several officers, the display of a weapon
by an officer, some physical touching of the person of the citizen, or the use
of language or tone of voice indicating that compliance with the officer's
request might be compelled.
U.S. v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554, 100 S. Ct.
1870, 1877 (1980). Not every point of
contact between a law enforcement official and an individual constitutes a
the record indicates that Jackson
was seized. Voss followed Jackson into the gas
station parking lot and did not stop the vehicle. At no point did Voss display a weapon, use
forceful language, tone, or voice; nor did Voss tell Jackson that he was under arrest or not free
to leave. Any detention of Jackson was brief and for
the purpose of issuing the citation.
Therefore, the record does not support Jackson’s assertion that he was seized
without probable cause.