STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Shelvie Jean Rettman,
Melvin Paul Rettman,
Filed July 14, 1998
Scott County District Court
File No. 9710104
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, Neil G. Nelson, Assistant County Attorney, 428 South Holmes Street, Shakopee, MN 55379 (for appellant)
Jerry Strauss, Commerce at the Crossings, 250 Second Avenue South, Suite 145, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for respondent Shelvie Jean Rettman)
Andrea Ryan Anderson, 6775 Cahill Avenue, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076 (for respondent Melvin Paul Rettman)
*Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. Art. VI, § 10.
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Norton, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N
Respondent Shelvie Rettman was charged with gross misdemeanor practicing medicine without a license and respondent Melvin Rettman was charged with aiding and abetting the practice of medicine without a license. Prior to charging the Rettmans, police searched their home and seized items Shelvie Rettman allegedly used to detect, diagnose, and treat illnesses by analyzing a person's aura. These items include a "rife" machine, "radionics" machines, "foot zoning" containers, client files, and literature. After a contested omnibus hearing, the district court suppressed the seized evidence, concluding that, although there was probable cause for the warrant and its no-knock provision, the search of respondents' home was a "no-knock" entry in which the officers failed to reassess the situation at the threshold prior to executing the warrant without announcement. Because we conclude that appellant State of Minnesota has failed to demonstrate clearly and unequivocally that the suppression order will have a critical impact on the outcome of the trial, we affirm.
The state alleges that Shelvie and Melvin Rettman took money from Linda Wilkins and her late husband, Robert, for diagnosing and treating Robert's pancreatic cancer, although they were not licensed to practice medicine. Officers investigating Linda Wilkins' complaints obtained a no-knock search warrant for the Rettmans' home. Four days after the warrant was signed, approximately ten to twelve officers, including the department's special response unit, executed the warrant after a fifteen-minute briefing and without any additional investigation. The special response entry team entered the home unannounced through an unlocked door with weapons drawn and ordered the two males inside the home to lie on the floor. Respondents were not at home. Several officers entered, searched the home, and seized items.
D E C I S I O N
The state argues that the district court erred by suppressing the evidence found at the Rettmans' home and that this error has a critical impact on the likelihood of a successful prosecution.
[A reviewing] court will, in a pretrial appeal, reverse the determination of the trial court only if the state demonstrates clearly and unequivocally, first, that the trial court erred in its judgment and, second, that unless reversed, the error will have a critical impact on the outcome of the trial.
State v. Joon Kyu Kim, 398 N.W.2d 544, 547 (Minn. 1987).
Critical impact has been shown not only in those cases where the lack of the suppressed evidence completely destroys the state's case, but also in those cases where the lack of the suppressed evidence significantly reduces the likelihood of a successful prosecution.
Id. at 551.
The district court considered the issue of critical impact and noted in its November 21, 1997, omnibus order that,
* * * this determination does not preclude the prosecution from proceeding to trial given that they have additional evidence in this matter with which to obtain a successful prosecution of Defendants as charged.
We agree with the district court that the state's evidence and witnesses were sufficient to prosecute respondents successfully. Linda Wilkins is available to testify to her observations of the treatments performed on her late husband, as well as the promises that both respondents made regarding Shelvie Rettman's ability to heal people during the Wilkins' repeated visits to respondents' home. Wilkins' daughter, Lisa Anderson, can corroborate Wilkins' testimony with her own first-hand observations inside the Rettmans' home and of one of her father's treatments. Wilkins' sister-in-law, Barb Lonsgard, who gave the Wilkins Shelvie Rettman's telephone number, is also available to testify. The record indicates that the state has disclosed the following additional witnesses, including some former "patients" of Shelvie Rettman: Debbie Loza, Reverend Reginald Lawerence, Karla Coe, and Tom Empey. These witnesses have all been inside the Rettman home and have first-hand knowledge of the Rettmans' activities.
Furthermore, the statute under which Shelvie Rettman is charged, Minn. Stat. § 147.081, subds. 1 and 3(3) (1996), reads:
Subdivision 1. Unlawful practice of medicine. It is unlawful for any person not holding a valid license issued in accordance with this chapter to practice medicine as defined in subdivision 3 in this state.
* * * *
Subd. 3. Practice of medicine defined. For the purposes of this chapter, a person not exempted under section 147.09 is "practicing medicine" or engaged in the "practice of medicine" if the person does any of the following:
* * * *
(3) offers or undertakes to prevent or to diagnose, correct, or treat in any manner or by any means, methods, devices, or instrumentalities, any disease, illness, pain, wound, fracture, infirmity, deformity or defect of any person; * * *
Respondent Melvin Rettman is charged with aiding and abetting the practice of medicine without a license, under Minn. Stat. § 609.05, subd. 1 (1996), which reads, in relevant part:
609.05. Liability for crimes of another
Subdivision 1. A person is criminally liable for a crime committed by another if the person intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with or otherwise procures the other to commit the crime.
On this record, we conclude that the state has not met its burden to demonstrate clearly and unequivocally that the district court's decision to suppress the evidence seized from respondents' home would significantly reduce the likelihood of a successful prosecution given the other evidence and witness testimony. Because of the abundance of witness testimony to prove the elements of the charged statutes, we conclude that the state could successfully prove its case against both respondents without the suppressed evidence.
Because the state has failed to prove critical impact, we need not reach the issue of whether the district court erred by suppressing the evidence seized.