STATE OF MINNESOTA
COURT OF APPEALS
William Daniel Nynas, petitioner,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed September 28, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. IC476354
Thomas C. Gallagher, 270 Grain Exchange North Building, 301 Fourth Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Jeffrey F. Lebowski, Michael R. Pahl, and Timothy C. Rank, Assistant Attorneys General, 525 Park Street, Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
Respondent Commissioner of Public Safety revoked appellant William Daniel Nynas's driver's license. Appellant contends the district court erred in ruling that appellant lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the discovery limitations of Minnesota's implied consent statute, Minn. Stat. § 169.123, subd. 5c(d) (1998). We affirm.
By the time of the implied consent hearing, appellant had received the police reports in the matter and notice of the identity of the hearing witnesses. He had not, however, requested or moved for any additional discovery. The hearing on November 6, 1998, focused only on the legality of the officer's stop. Appellant did not move for additional discovery. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court sustained the revocation pending the submission of written arguments on the constitutional challenge.
In its order and memorandum of December 1, 1998, the court ruled that appellant had no standing to raise the discovery issue because he had received all the discovery he had requested. The court also ruled that the implied consent discovery limitations violate the separation of powers doctrine.
On appeal, appellant challenges the court's determination that he lacked standing. By notice of review, respondent challenges the court's ruling that the discovery limitation is unconstitutional.
Minnesota's implied consent statute limits discovery to:
(1) the notice of revocation;
(2) the test record, or in the case of blood or urine tests, the certificate of analysis;
(3) the peace officer's certificate and any accompanying documentation submitted by the arresting officer to the commissioner of public safety; and
(4) disclosure of potential witnesses, including experts, and the basis of their testimony.
Other types of discovery are not available.
Minn. Stat. § 169.123, subd. 5c(d) (1998).
In his implied consent petition, appellant requested various reports and records and demanded factual disclosures "by subpoena power and deposition practice." Respondent provided police reports and a witness list and directed appellant to other sources of information ostensibly not under respondent's control. At no time did appellant request or attempt to obtain further discovery. He participated fully in the implied consent hearing without requesting the court to order additional discovery.
Appellant contends that, because he was represented by a lawyer who was ethically bound to obey the law, he could not request additional discovery. This argument is not persuasive. Lawyers are not prohibited from making good faith challenges of existing laws. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 11 (an attorney's signature on a legal document is a certification that the contents are "warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law * * *"); Minn. R. Prof. Conduct P. 3.1 ("A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law"); Minn. Stat. § 549.211 (1998) (in civil actions attorneys shall attach acknowledgement to papers certifying that legal contentions are warranted by existing law or "by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law").
Because appellant failed to seek discovery beyond that permitted by the implied consent statute, he suffered no harm from the statute's limitations. The district court correctly ruled that appellant had no standing to challenge the constitutionality of the discovery limitations of the implied consent statute.
Our decision on standing is dispositive of the appeal. Therefore, we do not reach the issue of the constitutionality of the implied consent discovery limitations.