may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Andrea M. Starin,
Filed March 23, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 98003314
Jay M. Heffern, City Attorney, Michael R. Drysdale, Assistant City Attorney, 300 Metropolitan Centre, 333 S. 7th St., Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Peter B. Knapp, Cynthia J. Waldt, Certified Student Attorney, William Mitchell College of Law, 875 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105-3076 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Foley, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.[**]
Appellant Andrea M. Starin was cited for speeding on December 27, 1997. The matter came on for trial June 11, 1998. Immediately prior to the trial's commencement, appellant, acting pro se, moved for dismissal of the charge based on discovery violations. Appellant alleged she had made three attempts to obtain discovery prior to trial--two attempts to obtain information from the Minneapolis Park Police and one attempt to obtain information from the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office. Appellant further alleged the matter had been continued once before by agreement with the city attorney due to appellant's inability to obtain discovery. The information appellant sought was "evidence of a radar device, evidence of testing of the radar device, [and] evidence of certification of the officer."
The trial court noted the information was available at the time of trial, but appellant protested that she required time to prepare a case. The trial court offered to grant appellant a continuance, but appellant refused the offer, insisting on dismissal as the only remedy available that would avoid prejudice due to the effort she had already expended attempting to obtain the information. The trial court reiterated its offer of a continuance, but appellant refused and elected to go forward with the trial.
During the trial, the officer testified he used his radar to determine that appellant was traveling 43 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone. The officer also testified that upon being stopped, appellant admitted, "I was going 35. No way I was going 43." Appellant chose not to cross-examine the officer, nor did she introduce any evidence. At the close of evidence appellant submitted her written motion for dismissal based on discovery violations. Attached to the motion was an "addendum" detailing her three attempts to obtain discovery.
The trial court found appellant guilty of speeding and imposed an $80 fine plus surcharges.
Radar "records shall be available to a defendant upon demand." Minn. Stat. § 169.14, subd. 10 (1998). In misdemeanor cases, on request of the defendant, the prosecutor is required to permit the defendant to inspect the police reports. Minn. R. Crim. P. 7.03; see also Minn. R. Crim. P. 23.05, subd. 3 (stating, except as otherwise provided, the procedure in petty misdemeanor cases is the same as for misdemeanors).
Appellant argues the trial court abused its discretion by denying appellant's motion to dismiss and allowing the state to present radar evidence despite the discovery violations. It is clear that appellant was entitled under the law to view the radar records and police reports prior to trial. See Minn. Stat. § 169.14, subd. 10; Minn. R. Crim. P. 7.03. Because appellant represented to the court that she had been denied the opportunity to view those records, the trial court suggested the matter could be continued to allow appellant time to view the records.
The sanctions appellant sought were far too severe under the circumstances. "Preclusion of evidence is a severe sanction which should not be lightly invoked." Lindsey, 284 N.W.2d at 374 (citations omitted). Dismissal of the charge is even more severe. Since appellant's trial had not yet begun, a continuance was the proper remedy. See id. at 373 (court is to consider feasibility of rectifying discovery violation with continuance).
Appellant further argues this court should exercise its supervisory powers to reverse the trial court and vindicate the due process rights of persons charged with petty misdemeanors. This court has repeatedly refused to exercise supervisory powers reserved to the supreme court. See, e.g., State v. Gilmartin, 535 N.W.2d 650, 653 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Sept. 20, 1995); Umphlett v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 533 N.W.2d 636, 640 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Aug. 30, 1995). In any event, the interests of justice do not require supervisory action in this case.
Certainly appellant's request for access to the records should have been more timely honored. Nevertheless, appellant was mistaken in her belief that the only proper remedies were the severe sanctions of dismissal or preclusion of evidence. The trial court, upon being duly advised, took reasonable steps to ensure appellant's access to the information she sought. Appellant declined the trial court's offer of a continuance, proceeded to trial, and now claims error. We find none.
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by apointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
[**] Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.