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,
Elsie M. Mayard,
Filed September 1, 1998
Ramsey County District Court
File No. T39763646
Peg Birk, St. Paul City Attorney, Jessica S. McConaughey, Assistant City Attorney, 15 West Kellogg Boulevard, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
Elsie M. Mayard, 755 West Minnehaha, St. Paul, MN 55104 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Thoreen, Judge.*
In an appeal from two petty misdemeanor driving violations, Elsie Mayard challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the propriety of evidentiary rulings. The evidence supports the speeding and seat belt violations, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in limiting witness testimony to the issues in this case. We affirm.
Elsie Mayard was charged first by citation, and later by formal complaint, with one count of petty misdemeanor speeding, one count of petty misdemeanor failure to wear a seat belt, and one count of petty misdemeanor obstructing legal process. At the beginning of Mayard's two-hour court trial, the state dismissed the misdemeanor charge of obstructing legal process.
At trial, the state relied on testimony from Officer John Wuorinen, who had stopped and cited Mayard. Mayard, appearing pro se, called two additional witnesses, Sergeant Thomas Quinlan and Sergeant Melvin Carter, and testified on her own behalf. At the close of the trial, the court found beyond a reasonable doubt that Mayard was going 38 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone and was not wearing her seat belt. Mayard received a $59 fine for the speeding violation and a $25 fine for the seat belt violation. Mayard appeals.
A speed in excess of the established speed limit is "prima facie evidence that the speed is not reasonable or prudent and that it is unlawful." Minn. Stat. § 169.14, subd. 2 (Supp. 1997). The posted speed limit in the area where Mayard was stopped is 30 miles per hour. The evidence amply supports that Mayard exceeded the 30-mile-per-hour limit. Officer Wuorinen testified that he visually estimated Mayard's vehicle to be travelling at 40 miles per hour; Wuorinen confirmed his visual observation with his radar detection device that reported Mayard's speed at 38 miles per hour; Wuorinen authenticated the report through testimony on his training and certification and the method he used in setting up and testing the radar. See Minn. Stat. § 169.14, subd. 10 (1996) (standards for admissibility of radar results); State v. Dow, 352 N.W.2d 125, 126-27 (Minn. App. 1984) (radar results that meet Minnesota Statutes § 164.14, subdivision 10, are admissible).
Mayard's response to the evidence pertained to the location of her car when Wuorinen was following her. The credibility of witness testimony and the weight given to the evidence are issues for the trier of fact, and fact issues may not be retried on appeal. State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988). The evidence supports the district court's finding of a speeding violation.
Minnesota law requires the driver of a passenger vehicle to wear a "properly adjusted and fastened seat belt, including both the shoulder and lap belt when the vehicle is so equipped." Minn. Stat. § 169.686, subd. 1(1) (1996). Wuorinen testified that he observed that "the shiny belt buckle of the safety belt was up on the door post" as Mayard's vehicle passed him, and he deduced that she was not wearing her seat belt. Wuorinen further testified that Mayard admitted she was not wearing her seat belt because it bothered her neck, but provided no medical evidence that such a measure was necessary. Mayard disputed Wuorinen's ability to see the seat belt, but did not directly refute the truth of the testimony. The district court acted within its power in crediting Wuorinen's testimony and finding the violation occurred.
Mayard specifically challenges the district court's (1) failure to require the police to produce police call records, (2) refusal to admit a tape-recording of an anonymous threat, and (3) restriction of her testimony. We address each claim separately.
Mayard subpoenaed police call records to demonstrate that Officer Wuorinen threatened to take her to jail because the headquarters radio operator indicated she didn't have any license or insurance. Wuorinen testified that he did not receive the subpoena until late in the day on the Friday before trial and needed more than a weekend to locate and reproduce the requested records. The district court concluded that because the search for such a call would require going through thousands of calls, Mayard must make a threshold showing of the probative value of the evidence. The court stated that the evidence did not meet the threshold at that point, but indicated that Mayard would be allowed to testify on the issue. This evidentiary ruling was not an abuse of discretion. See Minn. R. Crim. P. 7.03 (in misdemeanor cases the defense is permitted to inspect all police reports, but "[a]ny other discovery shall be by consent of the parties or by motion to the court"); Minn. R. Crim. P. 23.05, subd. 3 (in petty misdemeanor cases the procedure for misdemeanors applies).
Mayard's second evidentiary claim is that the court erred by refusing to admit a tape-recording of a threatening message left anonymously on her attorney's voice mail and by refusing to allow her to question her witnesses about her pending lawsuit against the St. Paul Police Department. Because the threatening message was left after the traffic stop and pertained to Mayard's request for an internal investigation, the district court did not err by refusing to admit the recording. Neither did the court err by refusing to allow Mayard to ask her witnesses about their involvement in her pending lawsuit or her previous traffic violations. Mayard did not establish a connection between the cases that would satisfy the relevancy requirement. See Uselman, 464 N.W.2d at 138 (when plaintiff's assertion has no relation to issues tried, there is no basis "upon which to conclude that the trial court abused its discretion" by excluding testimony relating to the assertion).
Finally, there is no merit to Mayard's allegation that she was not allowed to tell her side of the story. Mayard testified about the stop, including a claim that Wuorinen had stopped her earlier that day and that the radio operator at headquarters initially told Wuorinen that Mayard did not have a driver's license or insurance and should go to jail. Although the court did not allow Mayard to testify to events after the stop, this limitation
was not an abuse of discretion because the record does not demonstrate that the proffered testimony was relevant to the ultimate issue in this case.
*Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. Art. VI, § 10.