This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






In the Matter of the Eligibility of Adam Strege,

Claimant for Crime Victims Reparations


Filed October 17, 2006

Affirmed; motion granted

Worke, Judge


Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board

Office of Administrative Hearings File No. 3-2401-16555-2


Adam Strege, 24903 Tunnel Road, Brook Park, MN 55007 (appellant pro se)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Christie B. Eller, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board)


            Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Crippen, Judge.[*]

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

WORKE, Judge

On appeal from the denial of crime-victim reparations for failing to cooperate with law-enforcement authorities, relator argues that the Crime Victims Reparations Board should not have denied his claim because he has a mental disability that prevented him from cooperating fully with law enforcement.  Because the board’s decision is supported by the record, we affirm.  Further, respondent’s motion to strike that portion of relator’s brief that contains information outside the record is granted. 


            Following a contested-case hearing, the Crime Victims Reparations Board (board) denied relator Adam Strege’s claim for financial assistance after concluding that relator failed to cooperate fully with law enforcement after reporting a March 2004 assault.  A contested case is “a proceeding before an agency in which the legal rights, duties, or privileges of specific parties are required by law or constitutional right to be determined after an agency hearing.”  Minn. Stat. § 14.02, subd. 3 (2004).  “[T]he legislature has codified the standard of review for agency decisions in contested case proceedings in the Minnesota Administrative Procedures Act (MAPA) at Minn. Stat. § 14.69.”  Minn. Ctr. For Envtl. Advocacy v. Minn. Pollution Control Agency, 644 N.W.2d 457, 463 (2002).  This court may reverse or modify an agency’s decision only if the decision is (1) in violation of a constitutional provision; (2) in excess of the agency’s statutory authority or jurisdiction; (3) made upon unlawful procedure; (4) affected by other error of law; (5) unsupported by substantial evidence; or (6) arbitrary and capricious.  Minn. Stat. § 14.69 (2004).  On appeal, an agency’s decision is presumed to be correct, and appellate courts ordinarily accord deference to an agency in its field of expertise.  Reserve Mining Co. v. Herbst, 256 N.W.2d 808, 824 (Minn. 1977).

            When the record contains substantial evidence supporting a finding of fact by the agency, we must affirm the agency decision, and we may not substitute our own judgment for that of the administrative body.  City of Moorhead v. Minn. Pub. Utils. Comm’n,343 N.W.2d 843, 846 (Minn. 1984).  The substantial-evidence test is satisfied when there is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”  In re Interstate Power Co., 574 N.W.2d 408, 415 (Minn. 1998).  Substantial evidence is: “(1) such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion; (2) more than a scintilla of evidence; (3) more than some evidence; (4) more than any evidence; or (5) the evidence considered in its entirety.”  Minn. Ctr. for Envtl. Advocacy,644 N.W.2d at 466.  When considering “questions of law, reviewing courts are not bound by the decision of the agency and need not defer to agency expertise.”  St. Otto’s Home v. Minn. Dep’t of Human Servs.,437 N.W.2d 35, 39-40 (Minn. 1989).

            Relator argues that the board erred in finding that he did not cooperate fully with police officers.  The board is authorized to provide reparations to eligible victims of crimes who have incurred economic loss.  Minn. Stat. § 611A.53, subd. 1(a) (2004).  But the board is prohibited from awarding reparations if “the victim or claimant failed or refused to cooperate fully with the police and other law enforcement officials[.]”  Minn. Stat. § 611A.53, subd. 2(b) (2004).  In determining whether a victim cooperated fully with police, the board must find that the victim “made a reasonable effort to comply with any specific and direct requests that law enforcement professionals made a reasonable effort to communicate to them,” and that the victim “cooperated from the time the crime was reported, during the entire time the investigation remains active, and through all prosecution proceedings.”  Minn. R. 3050.0750, subp. 1 (2005).  As the party proposing that certain action be taken, relator “must prove the facts at issue by a preponderance of the evidence, unless the substantive law provides a different burden or standard.”  Minn. R. 1400.7300, subp. 5 (2005). 

            The board determined that relator made no reasonable effort to name the individual who had assaulted him, name witnesses, or return to the site to identify those individuals involved.  The evidence in the record supports the board’s findings.  Immediately following an altercation with a co-worker, relator told his supervisor that Jeff punched him and he fell into sheetrock, but that he was not injured.  The same day relator reported the incident to a police officer.  Although relator appeared to be nervous, he did not have difficulty talking or organizing his thoughts.  While relator told the officer that his shoulder or arm hit the drywall, the officer did not observe any injuries, and relator refused medical attention.  Relator also told the officer that there were no witnesses and that he did not want to say the name of the person who assaulted him because he did not want to get anyone into trouble.  Relator also refused the officer’s request to return to the site to identify the assailant.  Two months later, relator reported the assault to another police officer.  Relator stated that an individual named Jeff shook his ladder, and when relator confronted Jeff about owing another co-worker money, Jeff got angry and punched him in the back or neck.  Relator, however, failed to provide requested information and was vague with details—he did not know the address or phone number of the employer, and he stated that there were no witnesses, but later stated that there were witnesses.  During the contested-case hearing, relator testified that Jeff assaulted him, but that he did not want to report it because he feared it would hurt his chance at a promotion.  There is substantial evidence in the record to support the board’s finding that relator failed to cooperate fully with law enforcement.

            Relator argues that he was not able to cooperate fully because of a mental impairment.  While the board is prohibited from awarding reparations if it finds that the claimant refused to cooperate fully with law enforcement, the board may not deny benefits unless it also finds that the victim “was able to cooperate at the time the cooperation was requested.”  Minn. R. 3050.0750, subp. 2.  “In determining whether a victim or claimant was able to cooperate, the board shall consider physical or mental impairments or disabilities that might have affected the victim or claimant’s ability to respond to the requests.”  Id.   Relator must prove that he had an impairment or disability that prevented him from cooperating fully with law enforcement by a preponderance of the evidence.

            The board concluded that relator failed to show that he sustained a head injury from the assault or that he was affected by an impairment or disability that prevented him from cooperating fully with law enforcement.  The evidence in the record supports the board’s determination.  Relator testified that he did not want to report the assault because he feared that it would hurt his chance of being promoted; he obviously understood the officer’s requests because he was aware of what information to withhold.  And all of the medical evaluations indicated that relator was not impaired by a physical or mental disability that would have prevented him from cooperating fully with law enforcement.  Relator’s MRI and EEG study indicated no abnormality; his speech was described as fluent and appropriate; a psychiatric exam indicated that relator was alert and oriented as to time, person, and place; no evidence was found of formal thought disorder or depression; relator had no difficulty following conversational comments or questions; relator scored perfectly on language tests of verbal comprehension and retention related to simple and complex commands; and relator was found to have normal conversational language, normal speech, and no obvious receptive or expressive language impairment.  Relator has failed to meet his burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the board’s decision should be reversed.

            Finally, relator submitted to this court documents that appear to have been downloaded from the Internet.  The material is not interpreted or directly connected to relator.  Moreover, the agency must base its decision on the record.  Minn. Stat. § 14.60, subd. 2 (2004).  And this court’s “review must focus on the record[.]”  In re Hutchinson, 440 N.W.2d 171, 177 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Aug. 9, 1989).  The record does not contain any of this information.  Respondent’s motion to strike the portions of relator’s brief that contains information outside the record is granted. 

            Affirmed; motion granted.

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