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,
Randy Lee Motzko,
Filed April 20, 1999
Reversed and remanded
Anoka County District Court
File No. K4-98-5836
Robert M.A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, M. Katherine Doty, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka County Government Ctr., 2100 Third Ave., 7th Floor, Anoka, MN 55303 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Jodie L. Carlson, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Ave. S.E., Ste. 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Short, Judge.
Appellant Randy Lee Motzko pleaded guilty to felony third-degree burglary. Minn. Stat. §§ 609.582, subd. 3; 609.05, subd. 1; 609.101, subd. 4 (1996). The district court stayed imposition of sentence and placed Motzko on probation for five years on condition that he serve one day in jail, pay a $500 fine, and attend a 60-day work program established at Camp Ripley under Minn. Stat. §§ 241.277, 609.113 (Supp. 1997).
At the sentencing hearing, Motzko objected to being sent to Camp Ripley, claiming that the program violated his equal protection rights because only men are required to participate. Neither party called witnesses or otherwise submitted any evidence about the program or the legislative history of the statutes establishing the program. Based on the parties' arguments, the court ruled from the bench that the statutes were constitutional.
On appeal, this court granted the state's motion to supplement the record to include portions of the legislative history of the statutes. Because the district court made no findings and the record is inadequate for our review, we reverse and remand.
The legislature established the Camp Ripley work program in 1997 as a four-year pilot project to study the effect of work programs on recidivism rates of first- and second-time non-violent property offenders. 1997 Minn. Laws ch. 239, art. 3; 1997 Minn. Laws ch. 239, art. 9, § 10. The legislative history shows that the initial draft of the bill included both men and women, but that the proposed program was altered to include only men for cost-saving reasons.
The program applies to male offenders being sentenced for their first or second non-violent felony if they have no prior convictions for crimes against the person. Minn. Stat. § 609.113, subd. 1(a). Under mandatory sentencing provisions, a first-time offender must spend 60 days at Camp Ripley and a second-time offender must spend 90 days there. Minn. Stat. § 609.113, subd. 4. A sentencing court may depart from this requirement only if it finds substantial and compelling reasons exist to order an alternative sentence that includes a sanction of equal or greater severity as the work program. Minn. Stat. § 609.113, subd. 1(b).
Equal protection requires the government to treat similarly situated people alike. Klinger v. Department of Corrections, 31 F.3d 727, 731 (8th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1185, 115 S. Ct. 1177 (1995). Thus, a plaintiff raising an equal protection challenge must first demonstrate that he was treated differently from others who are similarly situated to him. Id.; see also Brenden v. Independent Sch. Dist. 742, 477 F.2d 1292 (8th Cir. 1973) (rule barring qualified female high school students from competing with male students in noncontact sports treated similarly situated students dissimilarly).
Motzko argues that he has suffered a substantial burden or harm not imposed upon similarly situated female offenders. By mandating that certain male offenders be sent to Camp Ripley for 60 or 90 days, the statutes deny male offenders the right to Huber privileges to maintain employment, the ability to reduce the length of their sentences through service, and the opportunity to receive credit for time served at Camp Ripley for later probation violations. Although a sentencing court may depart from this requirement, the dispositional alternatives must include equivalent or more severe sanctions. Thus, the statute essentially imposes a mandatory minimum sentence on male offenders that is not imposed on similarly situated female offenders. As it is unclear from the record whether sentencing courts are actually applying the statute in this manner, we remand for additional evidence on this issue. Cf. State ex rel. Taylor v. Schoen, 273 N.W.2d 612, 619-20 (Minn. 1978) (while supreme court recognized that woman inmate's equal protection challenge to matrix system based on skewed statistical sample might have merit if matrix were sole device used to calculate parole dates, court rejected challenge because matrix not mechanically applied and used by parole board only as guide); Klinger, 31 F.3d at 731 (equal protection challenge by women prison inmates rejected when evidence established that female and male inmates were not similarly situated based on numbers of inmates, lengths of stays, and prison security levels and when "[d]ifferences between challenged programs at the two prisons are virtually irrelevant because so many variables affect the mix of programming that an institution has" and that "comparing programs improperly results in * * * court scrutiny of prison officials' substantive administrative decisions.").
"To withstand constitutional challenge * * * classifications by gender must serve important governmental objectives and must be substantially related to achievement of those objectives." Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 198, 97 S. Ct. 451, 457 (1976); see also Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718, 724, 102 S. Ct. 3331, 3336 (1982) (statutory objective is illegitimate if it excludes or protects members of one gender because they are presumed to suffer from inherent handicap or are innately inferior). At this stage, the burden of proof is on the party seeking to uphold the challenged statute. Hogan, 458 U.S. at 724, 102 S. Ct. at 3336.
The state asserts that the objective of the Camp Ripley pilot program is to study the effects of a work program on recidivism among property offenders and to reduce that recidivism. Arguably, this objective is important. The state claims that the statutes meet this objective by requiring the commissioner to file a report at the end of the pilot project to specifically address the issue of recidivism; the state further claims that limiting the program to male offenders meets this objective by allowing the state to obtain meaningful statistics for as little cost as possible.
Similar arguments were made and rejected in West v. Virginia Dep't of Corrections, 847 F. Supp. 402, 407 (W.D. Va. 1994), in which a female offender raised an equal protection challenge to a Virginia statute providing a boot camp sentencing option only to male offenders. As in this case, the state asserted that the camp was established as a pilot program to study prison overcrowding and recidivism and that a similar program was not offered to female offenders due to lack of financial resources. Id. at 404. The court held the statute violated equal protection because it was not substantially related to these objectives. Id. at 407-08 ("when an extremely favorable sentencing alternative is provided to one class of inmates and not another, and when that classification is based solely on the inmates' gender, the line [according prison administrators great deference in establishing rehabilitation programs] is crossed").
The record in this case has not been adequately developed to allow any in-depth discussion or analysis of these issues. Because we cannot ascertain whether the state has met its burden of proving that the discriminatory means employed are substantially related to the objective of reducing recidivism, we remand the matter for further development of the record.
The district court's rejection of Motzko's challenge to the statutes is reversed and the matter is remanded for further development of the record. On remand, the district court should also make findings to support its decision.
Reversed and remanded.