STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Mitchell Edmond Whitley,
Filed October 12, 1999
Reversed and remanded
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 99013403
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Steven M. Tallen, Tallen & Baertschi, 4640 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Mark D. Nyvold, Suite 1030, 46 East 4th Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
Appellant State of Minnesota claims that the district court erred in dismissing, over the state's objection, a misdemeanor citation against respondent Mitchell E. Whitley for driving after suspension and accepting Whitley's plea of guilty to a petty misdemeanor speeding citation. We reverse and remand.
We review a determination of manifest injustice made to support the acceptance of a guilty plea to a lesser offense under an abuse-of-discretion standard. State v. Favre, 428 N.W.2d 828, 831 (Minn. App. 1988) (applying abuse-of-discretion standard).
This court has previously held
[t]he power of a [district] court to accept a defendant's plea to a lesser offense over the State's objection significantly usurps the prosecutor's broad discretion in determining the manner in which to fulfill his duty to prosecute. It should only be invoked in rare instances.
State v. McAllister, 399 N.W.2d 685, 688 (Minn. App. 1987) (holding court's acceptance of plea to lesser offense was not acceptable under manifest-injustice analysis where court believed statute was unconstitutionally vague and enforcement was discriminatory) (citation omitted). The facts here do not present one of the "rare instances" where a court, to avoid manifest injustice, may accept a plea to a lesser offense over a prosecutor's objection. See Favre, 428 N.W.2d at 831 (holding manifest-injustice provision more properly applies to prosecutorial decisions based on unjustifiable standard such as race, religion, or other arbitrary classification). The district court, therefore, abused its discretion by dismissing the DAS citation.
The state also claims that the district court abused its discretion by injecting itself into plea negotiations, citing State v. Moe, 479 N.W.2d 427, 429 (Minn. App. 1992) (stating court should neither usurp responsibility of counsel nor participate in plea bargaining or negotiation itself), review denied (Minn. Feb. 10, 1992). The record does not support the state's claim.
Finally, Whitley moves to strike portions of the state's brief that mention the terms of the plea agreement, which are not part of the record. We have addressed this appeal without relying on the terms of the plea agreement.
Reversed and remanded.