may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Jay Dee Kaufman,
Filed September 9, 1997
Dakota County District Court
File No. K9-96-960
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Rochelle R.Winn, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Appellant Jay Dee Kaufman appeals his convictions for fourth- and fifth-degree controlled substance crime based on insufficiency of the evidence. We affirm.
Robinson arranged to buy an "eight ball" (3.5 grams) of methamphetamine from Kaufman. After Robinson met with Detective Bolluyt and Police Officer Scott, it was agreed that Officer Scott and Robinson would meet Kaufman at a bowling alley and Officer Scott, acting undercover, would buy the narcotics from Kaufman. Officer Scott, who wore a wire, and Robinson waited in their car for Kaufman; when Kaufman arrived, he pointed to Robinson and said, "You, alone," and entered the building. Robinson followed Kaufman inside, returning a moment later with a package containing 3.3 grams of methamphamine, which he gave to Officer Scott. Officer Scott gave Robinson $250; Robinson went back into the building for a few minutes, then left with Officer Scott. Kaufman was stopped by police when he left the building ten minutes later. The police searched him, finding $250 in marked bills in his right front pants pocket and .3 grams of methamphetamine and three bags of marijuana in his front left jacket pocket. Kaufman was charged with fourth-degree controlled substance crime for selling methamphetamine and fifth-degree controlled substance crime for possession of methamphetamine. See Minn. Stat. §§ 152.024 subd. 1 (1) and 152.025 subd. 2 (1) (1996).
Kaufman was tried by a jury and convicted of both counts. This appeal followed.
Kaufman argues that the testimony of Robinson, which he asserts lacked credibility, was uncorroborated by other evidence and therefore his conviction lacked the support of sufficient evidence. It is the province of the jury to make credibility assessments. State v. Erickson, 454 N.W.2d 624, 628 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied. (Minn. May 23, 1990). Particularly in an insufficiency of the evidence claim, we give great deference to those credibility assessments.
Robinson testified that Kaufman had given him 2.5 grams of methamphetamine in exchange for $250. A conviction may rest upon the testimony of a single credible witness. State v. Bliss, 457 N.W.2d 385, 390 (Minn. 1990). Kaufman asserts that the nature of Robinson's testimony, in light of the surrounding circumstances, requires corroboration. Presumably, Kaufman is referring to the arrangement made between Robinson and Detective Bolluyt as being somehow suspect and requiring corroboration; however, that is precisely the type of arrangement that law enforcement legitimately and routinely uses. It is true that "'the absence of corroboration in an individual case * * * may well call for a holding that there is insufficient evidence upon which a jury could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.'" State v. Ani, 257 N.W.2d 699, 700 (Minn. 1977) (quoting Note, 81 Yale L.J. 1365, 1391 (1965). However, this case does not present such a situation. Not only was Robinson's testimony straightforward, it was also corroborated. The $250 which Robinson had given to Kaufman was marked, and the same marked bills were found on Kaufman when he was searched. In addition, Officer Scott witnessed Kaufman's arrival and Robinson's movements into and out of the bowling alley. Further, Kaufman's testimony presents credibility problems. While Kaufman claims that the money was given to him to pay off an old debt for Robinson's purchase of a car, Robinson testified that he had never bought a car from Kaufman. Kaufman's testimony that Robinson must have supplied the methamphetamine himself, and gave Kaufman the .3 grams which was found in his pocket, may have struck the jury as improbable, especially because the $250 and the methamphetamine were found in two different pockets. Given the verdict, it is clear that the jury found Robinson's testimony credible, and did not find Kaufman's testimony credible.