Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
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Steven Rademacher appeals from criminal judgments after a jury found him guilty of murder, attempted murder and terrorizing. On July 29, 2019, a vehicle driven by Rademacher struck three people. At trial Rademacher conceded that the incident occurred, and that three individuals were struck by his vehicle. The issue for the jury was whether Rademacher had the requisite intent for the charged crimes. Rademacher claimed the district court violated his right to be present during trial on two occasions—prior to jury deliberations and after the jury started deliberations. He also argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should amend N.D.R.Crim.P. 43 because it was internally contradictory. To the latter, the Court declined, and finding no other reversible error, judgment was affirmed. View "North Dakota v. Rademacher" on Justia Law

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The State appealed from a district court order granting a motion to suppress evidence in a case against Shawnee Krall. The State charged Krall with murder and gross sexual imposition. Krall entered a plea of not guilty. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court’s findings were supported by sufficient competent evidence. The Court also concluded the inventory-search exception and the inevitable-discovery doctrine did not apply to provide an exception to the exclusionary rule. The Court therefore held the district court did not err in granting Krall’s motion to suppress. View "North Dakota v. Krall" on Justia Law

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De’Jonte Smith was convicted by jury of reckless endangerment and tampering with physical evidence. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the conviction for reckless endangerment, concluding the district court did not err by failing to include a self-defense jury instruction. The Court reversed the felony conviction for tampering with physical evidence, concluding the omission of an essential element of the tampering charge was an obvious error and there was insufficient evidence that Smith substantially obstructed, impaired, or perverted prosecution for a felony. The case was remanded for the district court to enter a judgment of acquittal on the charge of tampering with physical evidence. View "North Dakota v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Mohammed Yousif was convicted by jury of aggravated assault. Yousif argued on appeal that the district court erred by excluding a witness’s recorded statement. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed his conviction. View "North Dakota v. Yousif" on Justia Law

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Kyle Kenneth Bell appealed a district court’s judgment grant of summary judgment in favor of the State. In 1999, Bell was convicted of murder, a class AA felony. Bell appealed his conviction to the North Dakota Supreme Court, which dismissed Bell’s appeal after concluding he had abandoned the appeal after escaping from custody. The United States Supreme Court denied Bell’s petition for a writ of certiorari of his conviction. In March 2001, Bell applied for post-conviction relief. His application was dismissed by the district court and affirmed by the North Dakota Supreme Court. In October 2021, Bell filed for a second post-conviction relief application arguing that certain testimony proffered at trial was unconstitutional, that this testimony resulted in perjury, that his trial counsel was ineffective, and that North Dakota v. Pickens, 916 N.W.2d 612 established a new rule of law requiring reversal of his case. Bell argued his post-conviction relief application should have been considered although it was submitted more than two years after Pickens was decided and beyond the statute of limitations. Bell argued the “restraint of being incarcerated in a federal facility with limited access to caselaw” constituted a “physical disability” under N.D.C.C. § 29-32.1-01(3)(a)(2). The State raised the affirmative defenses of misuse of process, res judicata, and statute of limitations, and moved for summary judgment. The Supreme Court determined the limitation on Bell’s access to state case law as the result of being held in a federal correctional facility did not constitute a physical disability extending the statute of limitations for the filing of his application for post-conviction relief. Accordingly, summary judgment was affirmed. View "Bell v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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Sheldon Davis appealed a district court judgment awarding restitution. Davis was found guilty of the murder of Denise Anderson, endangering by fire or explosion, and arson. The district court ordered restitution without a hearing. The North Dakota Supreme Court remanded the case, holding the district court erred in ordering restitution without a hearing. On remand, the district court held a hearing to determine restitution. The State presented evidence that a bill for the funeral of Denise Anderson was sent to Nicholas Berlin, Denise Anderson’s son. The State also presented testimony from the funeral director of West Funeral Home, Craig Olsen. Olsen testified the total bill for the funeral was $3,550.00, the bill was sent to her son, Nicholas Berlin. Olsen testified he was not certain if Berlin or another family member paid the bill, but the bill had been paid in full. The district court found there was an actual cost incurred of $3,550.00 for Denise Anderson’s funeral and awarded restitution in that amount to Nicholas Berlin. Davis contended on appeal that the district court could not have properly determined Berlin actually incurred a recoverable loss under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-08(1) because there was no evidence presented which showed Berlin was the person who paid for the funeral. The Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding restitution in the amount of $3,550.00. View "North Dakota v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Steven Dahl was convicted by jury on two counts of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, one of which was for felony possession of paraphernalia. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the misdemeanor conviction, concluding sufficient evidence supported the conviction. The Supreme Court reversed the felony conviction, concluding there was insufficient evidence that the baggies were used, or possessed with intent to be used, for a felony purpose, and remanded for entry of a judgment of acquittal on the felony count. View "North Dakota v. Dahl" on Justia Law

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James Watson appealed a district court order denying his application for postconviction relief from two convictions entered on a conditional plea of guilty. Watson was convicted by jury of continuous sexual abuse of a child. He argued to the district court that it should have allowed him to withdraw his plea because he did not have effective assistance of counsel when he pleaded guilty. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded Watson failed to establish the prejudice necessary to satisfy the second prong of the Strickland test. View "Watson v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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Kengi Moses appealed an amended order deferring imposition of sentence entered upon a conditional plea of guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that Moses’ prior juvenile adjudication qualified as a predicate conviction under the statute prohibiting possession of a firearm following a criminal conviction and that he received due process under the law. View "North Dakota v. Moses" on Justia Law

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Dalton Peltier appealed after a jury found him guilty of attempted murder, aggravated assault, criminal mischief, and three counts of terrorizing. Peltier argued he did not voluntarily waive his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), or voluntarily make statements to law enforcement, and that there was insufficient evidence supporting his convictions. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in finding Peltier voluntarily waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily made statements to law enforcement. Further, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, we conclude substantial evidence exists that could allow a jury to draw a reasonable inference in favor of conviction on all counts. The Supreme Court therefore summarily affirmed these issues under N.D.R.App.P. 35.1(a)(2) and (3). View "North Dakota v. Peltier" on Justia Law