This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).







State of Minnesota,





Leland Bradford Knutson,




Filed September 4, 2007

Klaphake, Judge


Stearns County District Court

File No. K7-05-1092



Lori Swanson, Attorney General, James B. Early, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101-2134; and


Janelle Prokopec Kendall, Stearns County Attorney, Room 448, Administration Center, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud, MN  56303 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Paul J. Maravigli, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)



            Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Leland Bradford Knutson challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction for the 1987 sexual assault of R.N.  See Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(b) (1986).  Appellant claims that the evidence did not establish that R.N. was under 16 years of age at the time of the offense and that the district court and this court should take judicial notice of the release date of a movie that R.N. testified she viewed on the date of the offense, which would demonstrate she could not have been under the age of 16 at the time of the offense.  Because we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support appellant’s conviction and the district court did not err in declining to take judicial notice of the release date of the movie, and because we decline to take judicial notice of the release date of the movie, we affirm.   


            In considering a sufficiency of the evidence claim, an appellate court limits its review to whether the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to support a finding of guilt.  State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).  The reviewing court assumes that the fact-finder believed the state’s witnesses and rejected any contrary evidence.  State v. Jackson, 726 N.W.2d 454, 460 (Minn. 2007).  A district court’s credibility determinations are given particular deference.  State v. Reiners, 664 N.W.2d 826, 837 (Minn. 2003).

            Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(b), defines first-degree criminal sexual conduct as sexual penetration with another person if “the complainant is at least 13 but less than 16 years of age and the actor is more than 48 months older than the complainant and in a position of authority over the complainant[.]”  Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction because it shows that R.N. was 16 years old at the time of the assault.

            R.N.’s trial testimony, on its face, is not contradictory and establishes that she was 15 years old at the time of the offense.  She stated that the offense happened in the summer of 1987, just before the beginning of the school year, and that she knew she was 15 years of age at that time because she did not have a driver’s license.  She also stated that she obtained a driver’s license when she turned 16.

            Appellant asserts that R.N. could not have been 16 at the time of the offense because she also testified that they were watching the movie “Dirty Dancing” on the night of the assault, and the movie was not released for video sales until January 1988.  This assertion is problematic for two reasons.  First, to the extent that the movie release date calls into question R.N.’s testimony about her age, the district court, as the trier of fact, was free to reconcile this conflicting testimony with R.N.’s other testimony and conclude that her other testimony was more credible.  See Reiners, 664 N.W.2d at 837.  R.N. clearly stated her age at the time of the assault and used her lack of a driver’s license as a benchmark for establishing that she was under the age of 16.  She also testified that her birthday was about one month after the offense and that she obtained her driver’s license at that time.  Her testimony about the title of a movie playing at a time when she also testified that she was inebriated from alcohol provided to her by appellant is an incidental fact that the district court may have disregarded in light of her other credible testimony.  See id.

            Second, while the record indicates that defense counsel asked the district court to take judicial notice of the release date of the movie, the district court declined to do so, and defense counsel made no offer of proof on that issue.  “Criminal cases are not normally the appropriate setting for judicial notice, particularly of disputed facts.”  State v. Pierson, 368 NW.2d 427, 434 (Minn. App. 1985).  Courts usually confine the application of judicial notice to facts of common knowledge that are not in dispute and those for which neither expertise nor foundation is needed.  Minn. R. Evid. 201 (applicable only to civil cases).  This court stated recently that judicial notice may not be “used as a substitute for adjudicating specific facts without a hearing.”  In re Block, 727 N.W.2d 166, 176 (Minn. App. 2007) (declining to take judicial notice of documents on public health risks due to animal waste when the documents were not included in the county board record and were to be used to reverse the board’s decision to grant a conditional use permit to a dog breeding facility).  Here, the issue of R.N.’s age was an essential element of the offense, and evidence on that element was not appropriate for judicial notice.   

        Appellant further urges this court to take judicial notice of the release date of the movie.  “An appellate court may take judicial notice of a fact for the first time on appeal.”  Id. (quotation omitted).  On appeal, however, there is an even stronger rationale for declining to ask a court to adjudicate facts without a hearing.  See id. Further, as the information on the movie release date offered by appellant is derived from the Internet, it could be subject to manipulation and may not be the proper form for such information to be received into evidence.  See id. at 177 (noting that how Internet sources obtain information and whether they modify information calls into question the reliability of the information).  For these reasons, we decline to take judicial notice of the movie release date.[1]

            Appellant relies on State v. Rewitzer, 617 N.W.2d 407 (Minn. 2000), in seeking judicial notice of the movie release date on appeal.  In Rewitzer, the defendant included federal and state sentencing statistics in his brief and appendix on appeal; the materials were part of the public record; and the district court below had received into evidence related materials.  Id. at 411.  The supreme court denied the state’s motion to strike the materials on appeal, noting that it could have relied on the materials “in the course of our own research.”  Id. (quotation omitted).  Here, the type of information offered by
appellant does not carry the same weight of authority or reliability as the information at issue in Rewitzer.         


[1] As respondent points out, this issue could have been raised in a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.  Under those circumstances, it is unlikely that appellant could have shown proper grounds for a new trial because he could not have demonstrated that the movie release date evidence was “newly discovered,” or that the evidence “with reasonable diligence could not have been found and produced at the trial.”  Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.04, subd. 1(1)5.