Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Lisa Ann Gonzalez,
File No. 971865
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Thomas J. Harbinson, Scott County Attorney, Susan K. McNellis, Assistant County Attorney, 428 South Holmes Street, Shakopee, MN 55379 (for appellant)
David L. Valentini, Valentini & Associates, P.A., 247 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415; and
Lisa D. Lodin, Suite W-1260, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.[*]
Appellant State of Minnesota challenges the district court's stay of adjudication of respondent Gonzalez's charge of malicious punishment of a child. We reverse.
Interference with prosecutorial functions is only justified under very limited circumstances.
Except where the charge is grossly inappropriate in the light of the facts compelling a more serious charge, a trial judge should not ordinarily interfere with the prosecutor's exercise of discretion in charging a defendant. If he [the trial court judge] is going to reject a plea entered pursuant to a plea agreement, he should state his reasons and leave the prosecutor and defense attorney free to engage in further negotiations if they choose.
State v. McEwan, 265 N.W.2d 818, 820-21 (Minn. 1978). Stays of adjudication are improper absent an indication that the prosecution abused its discretion in charging. State v. Foss, 556 N.W.2d 540, 541 (Minn. 1996).
District courts should only rarely interpose on prosecutorial discretion.
Under established separation of powers rules, absent evidence of selective or discriminatory prosecutorial intent, or an abuse of prosecutorial discretion, the judiciary is powerless to interfere with the prosecutor's charging authority.
State v. Krotzer, 548 N.W.2d 252, 254 (Minn. 1996). Krotzer held that a stay of adjudication is, however, within the judiciary's inherent powers to further justice if "special circumstances" are present. Id. at 254-55. Subsequently, the supreme court has limited possible interpretations of the necessary "special circumstances."
It was not our intention that mere disagreement by the trial court with the prosecutor's exercise of the charging discretion would constitute "special circumstances." Rather, it was our intention that the inherent judicial authority recognized in that case be relied upon sparingly and only for the purpose of avoiding an injustice resulting from the prosecutor's clear abuse of discretion in the exercise of the charging function.
Foss, 556 N.W.2d at 541 (Minn. 1996). Here, the district court disagreed with the prosecutor's decision to charge respondent with malicious punishment of a child after she self-reported use of a belt to discipline her daughter. A district court's disagreement with the gravity of an offense charged may be addressed in sentencing but is not a "special circumstance" for which a stay of adjudication is justified. Id. Reversed.
[*] Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.