Articles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court held that Defendant may withdraw his plea of guilty to “knowingly violat[ing]” a provision of the predatory offender registration statute, Minn. Stat. 243.166(5)(a), because Defendant alleged that he did not recall his responsibility under the law at the time of the offense. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction, noting that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) ignorance of the law is a defense when the charged offense prohibits a knowing violation of a statutory provision; and (2) Defendant’s factual basis failed to satisfy the accuracy requirement for a valid plea because he made statements, never withdrawn or corrected, that negated the mens rea element of the charged offense. View "State v. Mikulak" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals affirming the district court’s dismissal of the State’s amended complaint against Minnesota School of Business and Globe University (the Schools). The State alleged that the Schools charged usurious interest rates and made loans without the required license for making private student loans at interest rates of up to eighteen percent. The State’s amended complaint sought permanent statutory injunctive relief to stop the Schools from engaging in unlicensed and usurious lending. The district court granted summary judgment for the Schools. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Schools charged usurious interest rates in violation of Minn. Stat. 334.01(1); and (2) the Schools were required to obtain a lending license under Minn. Stat. 56.01(a), and their failure to do so meant that they engaged in unlicensed lending. View "State v. Minnesota School of Business, Inc." on Justia Law

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A School District expelled Student for six weeks after finding a pocketknife in a purse in her locker. The Commissioner of the Department of Education affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding (1) Student did not willfully violate the District’s weapons policy when she unintentionally carried the pocketknife to school, and (2) the pocketknife’s presence in Student’s locker did not bring Student or others into danger. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the record did not support the conclusion that Student deliberately and intentionally violated the District’s weapons policy; and (2) the record did not contain substantial evidence that Student exposed anyone to actual or even probable harm. View "In re Expulsion of A.D. from United S. Central Pub. Schs." on Justia Law

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When Appellant Amanda Tatro was a junior in the mortuary science program at the University of Minnesota, she posted statements on Facebook which she described as "satirical commentary and violent fantasy about her school experience." Following a hearing, the Campus Committee on Student Behavior (CCSB) found Tatro had violated the student conduct code and academic program rules governing the privilege of access to human cadavers, which prohibited "blogging" about cadaver dissection. CCSB imposed sanctions, including a failing grade for an anatomy laboratory course. The University Provost affirmed the sanctions. Tatro appealed, arguing that the University violated her constitutional rights to free speech. The court of appeals upheld the disciplinary sanctions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the University did not violate the free speech rights of Tatro by imposing sanctions for her Facebook posts that violated academic program rules where the academic program rules were narrowly tailored and directly related to established professional conduct standards. View "Tatro v. Univ. of Minn." on Justia Law

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Appellant was employed by School District for three school years as the activities director and for one school year as interim middle school principal. Subsequently, School District terminated Appellant's employment. Appellant filed a grievance on the ground that he was a continuing-contract employee and entitled to continuing contract rights under Minn. Stat. 122A.40. School District denied the grievance. The court of appeals affirmed. At issue on appeal was whether Appellant's employment by the school district as an activities director fell within the definition of a "teacher" under section 122A.40, which would determine whether he was entitled to continuing-contract rights under the statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant was not a professional employee required to hold a license from the state department and therefore was not a "teacher" within the meaning of the continuing-contract statute. View "Emerson v. Indep. Sch. Dist. 199" on Justia Law