This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. sec. 480A.08, ' 3 (1994).


State of Minnesota,


Robert Howard Manning,

Filed July 9, 1996
Affirmed in part and remanded in part.
Randall, Judge

Hennepin County District Court
File Nos. 3084045, 3084046, 3084047, 3054520, 3072475, 3079530

Hubert H Humphrey, III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)

Phillip C. Carruthers, Deephaven City Prosecutor, 4640 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)

Daniel W. Voss, Joseph T. Bagnoli, Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren, 1500 Northwest Financial Center, 7900 Xerxes Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55431 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Parker, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.



Appellant, the State of Minnesota, challenges the district court's grant of respondent's motion to set aside and expunge records relating to respondent's conviction for careless driving. We affirm in part and remand in part.


On April 27, 1985, respondent Robert Manning was charged in the City of Deephaven with driving while under the influence (DWI), alcohol concentration of .10 or more, and open bottle (Deephaven charges). Respondent's Intoxilyzer reading was .11. As part of a plea negotiation, he pleaded guilty to an amended charge of careless driving; the DWI, alcohol concentration of .10 or more, and open bottle charges were dismissed.

On March 11, 1995, respondent brought a motion to set aside and expunge his Deephaven conviction for careless driving and for expungement of the underlying DWI, alcohol concentration of .10 or more, and open bottle charges. He also moved for expungement of some other charges not at issue on appeal.

The City of Deephaven appeared at the motion hearing to object to the proposed set aside and expungement of the Deephaven charges and related careless driving conviction. After the hearing, the district court judge denied respondent's motion to set aside and expunge his Deephaven careless driving conviction, but granted the motion to expunge the underlying charges of DWI, alcohol concentration of .10 or more, and open bottle. The court made the following finding No. 6 as to that matter:

The circumstances of this offense [Deephaven careless driving conviction] differ from those above [other conviction] in that there were originally other charges of D.W.I. or driving over .10 blood alcohol and open bottle, which were dismissed. The circumstances warrant expungement of the records relating to the charges of which he was not convicted, and which were resolved in his favor, but the motion to set aside his careless driving conviction is denied.

The court ordered that the Deephaven city attorney, his employees, and agents be prohibited from disclosing to anyone the fact that defendant was charged with DWI, blood alcohol of .10 or more, and open bottle and ordered "said persons" to seal all records relating to these charges. The district court also granted expungement of other charges not at issue here. This appeal followed.


Minn. Stat. ' 299C.11 (1994) provides for the return of certain identification data "[u]pon the determination of all pending criminal actions or proceedings in favor of the arrested person." The State argues that the court erred in expunging respondent's underlying charges because respondent's conviction of careless driving is not "a determination in his favor." See Schumann v. State Dep't of Pub. Safety, 367 N.W.2d 688, 691 (Minn. App. 1985) (petitioner not entitled to expungement under Minn. Stat. ' 299C.11 because DWI convictions are "not determinations in his favor").

Respondent concedes that Minn. Stat. ' 299C.11 does not permit expungement in this case. Instead, he argues that the district court relied on its inherent power to expunge the underlying charges. We agree.

A district court has the inherent power and discretion to grant relief beyond the scope of the statute if the petitioner can show that his constitutional rights may be seriously infringed or that the benefit of expungement outweighs the disadvantages to the public from the elimination of the record and the burden on the court in issuing, enforcing, and monitoring the order. State v. C.A., 304 N.W.2d 353, 358 (Minn. 1981); State v. P.A.D., 436 N.W.2d 808, 810 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Mar. 12, 1989). See also State v. Krotzer, 531 N.W.2d 862, 865 (Minn. App. 1995) ("The district court has inherent judicial powers to govern its own operations."), rev'd in part on other grounds, 548 N.W.2d 252 (Minn. May 23, 1996). Any exercise of a court's inherent powers to carry out judicial functions must be singularly mindful of the equally unique authority of the legislative and executive branches of government to carry out their constitutional functions. C.A., 304 N.W.2d at 358-59. Absent a clear abuse of discretion, a reviewing court will not overturn a district court's exercise of discretion. Kilowatt Org. (TKO), Inc. v. Dep't of Energy, Planning & Dev., 336 N.W.2d 529, 533 (Minn. 1983).

Here, the record supports a determination that the district court was relying on inherent rather than statutory authority. The court requested that the attorneys submit memoranda on the issue of the court's inherent authority. Further, in its order regarding the Deephaven charges the court did not cite to statutory authority. In every other instance where expungement was ordered the court specifically cited to statutory authority.

The district court acted within its discretion in granting the partial expungement. We affirm the district court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. We note that the record could justify a total expungement on the same basis that we affirm partial expungement. But that was not raised as an issue on cross-appeal.

We understand the State's concern in trying to comply with the district court's order in sealing the records for a partial expungement, where, as here, the conviction and underlying charges appear to be contained in a single file. Without clear instructions on how to seal the records, there is a possibility that the careless driving conviction could be inadvertently sealed. Thus, we remand this case to the district court for the sole purpose of allowing both parties to present suggestions on how best to effectuate partially sealing the records and best effectuate the intent of the district court's order, which we affirm. The district court can decide how best to proceed.

The State cited several cases to support its position that the district court did not have the inherent authority to order partial expungement, including In re Quinn, 517 N.W.2d 895 (Minn. 1994), Schumann, 367 N.W.2d 688 and Barlow v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 365 N.W.2d 232 (Minn. 1985). We find them distinguishable.

In Quinn, the supreme court held that the trial court lacked the inherent powers to expunge Quinn's arrest record and seal the investigative file of an alleged rape. Quinn, 517 N.W.2d at 900. Quinn, however, involved an attempt to seal the arrest and investigative records within a short period of time, that is, three weeks after the alleged incident and right after the prosecutor decided not to prosecute the case. Id. at 897. Here, the records sought to be sealed involve an incident over 10 years old and at a time when respondent was only 19 years old. The emphasis of the court's opinion in Quinn was on the presence of two important facts: (1) an aggrieved person, the alleged rape victim, who wanted to see the files to pursue a possible civil lawsuit against Quinn and (2) an aggrieved newspaper, which claimed a protectable interest in the information. Id. at 898. The focus of the Quinn analysis was on the rights of these parties to access the files under the Data Practices Act. Id. at 898-99. Unlike Quinn, here there are no aggrieved parties seeking access to the file.

In Schumann, this court held that the trial court did not have statutory authority to expunge three prior DWI convictions from the records of the Commissioner of Public Safety. Schumann, 367 N.W.2d at 691. The court held that Schumann had not shown that the benefit of expungement outweighed the disadvantage to the public from elimination of the record. Id. at 691. Here, respondent satisfied the district court that the benefit to him outweighed any claimed disadvantage to the public.

In Barlow, the supreme court held that a trial court did not have authority to order expungement from the records of the Commissioner of Public Safety of a driver's license revocation which was subsequently rescinded. Barlow, 365 N.W.2d at 234-35. However, in so holding, the court specifically noted:

Barlow seeks a court order to be issued to an agent of the executive branch to expunge certain records which the agent has been mandated by the legislative branch to keep for at least 5 years. There is no basis for the intrusion of inherent judicial power here. Here, too, any benefit to the respondent from expungement of his record is outweighed by the disadvantage to the public interest, and no infringement of any constitutional rights is involved.

Id. Here, the district court's order does not go against any clearly enunciated legislative mandate. Further, as previously noted, respondent has shown that the benefit to him outweighs any claimed disadvantage to the public interest.

We conclude the district court properly acted within its inherent authority in granting this partial expungement. We remand for the sole purpose of allowing both sides input into the district court's decision how best to effectuate the partial expungement it ordered.

Affirmed in part and remanded in part.