This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Stephen Edward Hibbs,
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 06003905
Stephen E. Hibbs, 10361 Yates Drive North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443 (pro se appellant)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Jay M. Heffern, Minneapolis City Attorney, Jennifer A. Saunders, Assistant City Attorney, 333 South Seventh Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Collins, Judge.*
Appellant challenges his conviction of violating a city traffic ordinance, arguing that the evidence does not support the verdict, the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague, and the district court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence documents that were not produced during discovery. Appellant also seeks reimbursement from the state for the costs of this appeal. We reverse.
October 27, 2005, Minneapolis Police Officer Steve Wuorinen issued a citation
to appellant Stephen Hibbs for violating a Minneapolis traffic ordinance. The ordinance makes it unlawful for a driver to
“start or accelerate any motor vehicle with an unnecessary exhibition of speed
on any public or private way within the city limits.”
Officer Wuorinen testified that, using a radar device, he measured Hibbs’s speed at 66 miles per hour, six miles over the posted speed limit on the portion of interstate highway where Hibbs was traveling. A second radar test measured Hibbs’s speed at 63 miles per hour. Officer Wuorinen stopped the vehicle and issued Hibbs the citation. The district court ruled from the bench that Hibbs was driving his vehicle faster than the posted speed limit. In a written order, the district court found Hibbs guilty of violating the ordinance. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
argues that the evidence before the district court is insufficient to support
the guilty verdict. When reviewing a
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we conduct a painstaking analysis
of the record to determine whether the fact-finder could reasonably find the
defendant guilty of the offense based on the facts in the record and the
legitimate inferences that can be drawn from those facts. State
v. Chambers, 589 N.W.2d 466, 477 (
The elements of a violation of Minneapolis, Minn., Code of Ordinances § 474.30, are that the driver (1) started or accelerated a vehicle (2) with an unnecessary exhibition of speed (3) on a public or private way (4) within the Minneapolis city limits.
Here, the record is entirely devoid
of any evidence that Hibbs “start[ed] or accelerate[d]” the vehicle with an
unnecessary exhibition of speed. To the
contrary, the evidence establishes that Hibbs decelerated the vehicle from 66 to 63 miles per hour. Even if we accept the state’s contention that
the evidence of Hibbs’s driving above the posted speed limit proves an
unnecessary exhibition of speed, this evidence and the legitimate inferences
drawn from it do not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hibbs started or accelerated with an
unnecessary exhibition of speed within the city limits, as required by
Minneapolis, Minn., Code of Ordinances § 474.30. Indeed, on this record, it is equally probable
that Hibbs accelerated to 66 miles per hour before entering the Minneapolis
city limits via the interstate highway on which he was traveling and maintained
that rate of speed until the radar detected his deceleration. The state urges us to attribute probative
value to Hibbs’s failure to deny that he accelerated his vehicle within the
Minneapolis city limits. To do so, however, would unconstitutionally shift
to Hibbs the burden to disprove an element of the crime, State v. Hage, 595 N.W.2d 200, 204 (
Hibbs seeks reimbursement from the
state for the costs of this appeal, arguing that, as the prevailing party, he
is entitled to such costs. Because the
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Hibbs argues that this standard is unconstitutional because it shifts the
burden of proof to the defendant to prove his innocence. See
State v. Gassler, 505 N.W.2d 62, 69 (
The ordinance also states that prima facie evidence of an unnecessary
exhibition of speed exists if the vehicle’s tires emitted an unreasonable
squealing or screeching sound or threw gravel.
 Hibbs gave his direct testimony in narrative form, and the prosecutor did not cross-examine him.
 In light of our decision, we need not reach Hibbs’s arguments for reversal because the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague as applied and because the conviction is based on erroneous evidentiary rulings.