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Smith’s Defense Attorney Files Appeal with Minnesota Supreme Court

Posted on: April 15th, 2015 by | No Comments

The defense attorney of Byron Smith, convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder a year ago this month (April 2014), have filed an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court seeking that his conviction either be dismissed, or reevaluated in a lower court.

Smith’s conviction came as a result of the shooting deaths of 17-year-old Nicholas Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer. Smith shot the teens, who had broken into his home, on Thanksgiving Day 2012. This break-in was the last of a string of burglaries that plagued the home, having prompted Smith to carry a gun and install a security system. This security system ultimately captured the event on audio and video, in addition to more than six hours of audio Smith recorded in the basement on a digital recorder.

The initial shots fired at Brady and Kifer, neither of which was fatal, would have likely been justified under Minnesota’s castle doctrine, which defends the use of force to protect oneself against an intruder in the home. The prosecution argued that the shots fired injured the intruders removing the immediate threat and therefore making the subsequent gunshots unnecessary, and illegal.

The appeal, filed by attorney Steven Meshbesher, is grounded on missteps in the previous trial. These errors include evidence shown to the Grand Jury, as well as evidence deemed inadmissible in the Morrison County District Court. We have yet to how the Supreme Court will decide in the matter.

‘Defense of Dwelling’ Heads to MN Supreme Court

Posted on: August 7th, 2014 by | No Comments

The Minnesota State Supreme Court is set to examine the issue known as “defense of dwelling.” The consideration is expected after a man in Waseca, Minnesota received three assault charges, according to an AP report appearing on TwinCities.com.

51-year-old Daniel Devens, who was charged, supposedly came into contact with an intoxicated man in the hallway of his apartment complex. According to Devens’ account, the intoxicated man was knocking loudly and that’s when Devens asked him to leave.

Devens then walked the intoxicated man down the hallway. After that? The intoxicated man claims Devens hit him, resulting in a brawl that eventually led to the two falling down the stairs. The intoxicated individual spent around a week recovering from injuries he sustained during the incident. (more…)

Minnesota Changes Law on Civil Forfeiture

Posted on: May 30th, 2014 by | No Comments

Minnesota citizens can no longer be forced to permanently forfeit property without receiving a criminal conviction or admitting to guilt, according to a new law signed by Governor Dayton in May.

Known as “civil forfeiture,” the provision previously gave authorities the ability to force citizens to forfeit items in civil courts, even if they hadn’t been found guilty in criminal court.

The new bill known as SF 874 also places a new burden of proof on the government, according to a Forbes report. This means that citizens are no longer required to prove that their property wasn’t used in a crime in order for it to be returned. Now the government must provide such proof. (more…)

Mark Giancola Convinces Court to Dismiss Felony Drug Case

Posted on: November 8th, 2013 by | No Comments

On October 30, 2013, Judge Pendleton of Anoka County dismissed a two-count felony complaint against Mr. Giancola’s client for: 1) possession of a controlled substance, and 2) illegal possession of a firearm. Mr. Giancola secured this dismissal by convincing Judge Pendleton the warrant officers used to gather evidence against his client was illegally obtained. More specifically, in his legal memorandum to the judge, Mr. Giancola argued the information contained in the officers’ warrant application was stale (old), and the warrant failed to demonstrate a sufficient nexus between what the officers wanted and the crime Mr. Giancola’s client allegedly committed. Because Mr. Giancola convinced the judge officers obtained the evidence pursuant to a defective warrant, the judge suppressed all evidence and dismissed the case for lack of probable cause.

 

Minnesota Supreme Court Requires Officers to Obtain Warrants in DWI Cases

Posted on: November 8th, 2013 by | No Comments

On October 23, 2013, the Minnesota Supreme Court published its State v. Brooks decision. In essence, the court ruled that officers must obtain a warrant in all DWI cases–unless an exception to the warrant requirement applies.

In this case, the State charged Wesley Brooks with three different DWI offenses. In each case, Brooks consented when officers asked whether Mr. Brooks would take a chemical test (i.e., blood, breath, or urine test). The supreme court ruled that the officers didn’t need warrants because Mr. Brooks consented to each test. The court explained the officers didn’t need a warrant because Mr. Brooks talked to an attorney, because of what the officers told Mr. Brooks, and because Mr. Brooks was previously arrested for DWI and knew the system. (more…)

Minnesota Supreme Court Considers Brooks Case

Posted on: September 24th, 2013 by | No Comments

On September 11, 2013, the Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments for State v. Brooks. Essentially, the question before the court was how Minnesota will apply the holding of the United States Supreme Court Case Missouri v. McNeely (a DWI case where the Court ruled testing a person’s blood without his consent violates the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution). Brooks’ attorney argued that Minnesota must apply the warrant requirement to ALL testing procedures, including breath, urine, and blood tests. In other words, in order for Minnesota to follow the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, officers who suspect a motorist of driving under the influence must obtain a warrant from a judge before testing his blood, breath, or urine for alcohol. If the officer does not secure a warrant before testing a motorist’s blood, breath, or urine, then the evidence of the test must be suppressed. (more…)

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