STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Bronson Jamal Rockwell,
Filed February 9, 1999
Clay County District Court
File No. T9981325
Heidi M. Fisher, Moorhead City Prosecutor, P. O. Box 817, Moorhead, MN 56561 (for respondent)
Richard E. Edinger, Suite 103, 200 Fifth Street South, Moorhead, MN 56560 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.
On appeal from a judgment of conviction for failing to stop and give notice after striking a parked car under Minn. Stat. § 169.09, subd. 4 (1998), Bronson Jamal Rockwell argues the trial court abused its discretion in allowing rebuttal argument by the prosecutor. We affirm.
[t]he court shall permit the prosecution to reply in rebuttal, which shall be limited to a response to any misstatement of law or fact or a statement that is inflammatory or prejudicial made by the defense in its closing argument.
Id.; see also Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.03, subd. 11(j) (providing identical, but slightly re-worded, limitation on prosecution's rebuttal argument).
During trial, Rockwell admitted all the elements of failing to stop and give notice after striking a parked car. In closing argument, defense counsel reiterated Rockwell's reasons for leaving the scene without giving notice. But in summarizing the elements of the offense, defense counsel omitted the statutory requirement of immediate action by the driver and indicated the statute imposed no time limit on the driver's duty to give notice. Cf. Minn. Stat. § 169.09, subd. 4 (providing driver whose car strikes parked car must "immediately stop" and provide notice in one of three ways). The trial court concluded defense counsel misstated the law and permitted the prosecution to respond to the misstatement.
Under these circumstances, the jury was still free to consider defense counsel's argument on the facts and determine whether Rockwell "immediately" notified the driver, owner, or police. See Minn. Stat. § 169.09, subd. 4 (requiring immediate attempt to notify owner of damaged vehicle). After a careful review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in deciding that defense counsel's omission of the requirement for immediate notice from his summary of the statutory elements was a misstatement of law warranting rebuttal argument by the prosecution.