This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).


State of Minnesota,


Termain NMN Dortch,

Filed December 7, 1999
Reversed and remanded
Crippen, Judge

Hennepin County District Court
File No. 99025718

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and

Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Donna J. Wolfson, Assistant County Attorney, Hennepin County Government Center, C-2000, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for appellant)

William E. McGee, Fourth District Public Defender, Warren R. Sagstuen, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Forsberg, Judge.[*]

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

Crippen, Judge

The state appeals the trial court’s choice to "take * * * under advisement" its acceptance of defendant’s plea, staying the adjudication of his guilt or innocence for a period of five years, on conditions that included a workhouse sentence.[1] We reverse and remand.


Respondent, aged 17, offered a plea of guilty on a charge of unlawful possession of a pistol. Because of an earlier drug prosecution that was certified to adult court, this case was also certified. See Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 3a (1998). If convicted on his current charge, respondent would receive a mandatory minimum incarceration of five years under Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subds. 5, 9 (1998).

At his initial appearance for determination of probable cause, appellant submitted a petition to plead guilty on conditions that would include serving a sentence of approximately one year in the county workhouse as a sanction upon revocation for his earlier conviction. Also included in the agreement was respondent’s understanding that he would be sentenced for three to five years of incarceration in the event he committed any new offense involving drugs or weapons. Explaining the proposed process to respondent, the court observed that "[T]here’s a mandatory minimum of 36 [months] that we’re trying to help you with here, but there isn’t going to be any more help if there is a new offense." The court further explained it was accepting the plea under State v. Krotzer, 548 N.W.2d 252 (Minn. 1996).

At a subsequent hearing on the state’s motion to reconsider, the court reaffirmed its decision but took the occasion to further explain its rationale for accepting the proposed plea. The court pointed to respondent’s age, the risk of making him a permanent ward of the state if incarcerated in a maximum-security facility at his present age, and the public interest in rehabilitating him, having regard for his inevitable release from confinement.


Even in the absence of an express rule or statute, a trial court has "inherent judicial power" to stay adjudication if "special circumstances" exist warranting this "unusual judicial measure." Krotzer, 548 N.W.2d at 254-55 (affirming stay of adjudication for 19-year-old defendant, charged with felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct, for engaging in consensual sex with 14-year-old girlfriend). The supreme court later narrowed the discretion recognized in Krotzer, determining that a stay of adjudication should be used only in cases of "clear abuse of [prosecutorial] discretion." State v. Foss, 556 N.W.2d 540, 541 (Minn. 1996). See also State v. Mitchell, 577 N.W.2d 481, 493 (Minn. 1998) (noting limited nature of the inherent judicial power recognized in Krotzer as applied to departure from mandatory sentences).

The trial court cited the advantages of the decision to stay adjudication of the sentence, the merits of which we can neither criticize nor approve. But respondent’s circumstances do not suggest that the effort of the state to have him convicted represents an abuse of prosecutorial discretion, and the trial court did not suggest that such an abuse of discretion was evident. Under Foss, we are required to reverse.

Reversed and remanded.

[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1] On appeal, the state has further suggested this court consider the impact of Minn. Stat. § 609.095(b) (1998) (stating that courts may not refuse to adjudicate the guilt of a defendant who tenders a guilty plea). Because the statute is unnecessary to our decision on the case, we decline to consider either its relevancy or constitutionality, which is challenged by the respondent.