Opinions

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Twete v. Mullin, et al. 2019 ND 184
Docket No.: 20170450
Filing Date: 7/11/2019
Case Type: REAL PROPERTY
Author: McEvers, Lisa K. Fair

Highlight: A district court’s denial of a motion for new trial is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.

A court abuses its discretion if it acts in an arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable manner; its decision is not the product of a rational mental process leading to a reasoned determination; or it misinterprets or misapplies the law.

Unopposed jury instructions become the law of the case. A party on appeal cannot complain about error that is of their own making.

A district court considering a new trial motion based on insufficiency of the evidence may not substitute its own judgment for that of the jury, or act as a thirteenth juror when the evidence is such that different persons would naturally and fairly come to different conclusions, but may set aside a jury verdict when, in considering and weighing all the evidence, the court’s judgment tells it the verdict is wrong because it is manifestly against the weight of the evidence.

Absent statutory or contractual authority, the American Rule assumes parties to a lawsuit bear their own attorney fees.

State v. Hendrickson 2019 ND 183
Docket No.: 20190075
Filing Date: 7/11/2019
Case Type: DUI/DUS
Author: McEvers, Lisa K. Fair

Highlight: Information obtained from a 911 caller may provide a sufficient factual basis to raise a reasonable and articulable suspicion of potential criminal activity to justify an investigatory stop.

State v. West 2019 ND 182
Docket No.: 20180358
Filing Date: 7/11/2019
Case Type: MISC. STATUTORY OFFENSE (FELONY)
Author: Per Curiam

Highlight: The crime of conspiracy to “knowingly” commit murder is not a cognizable crime. Charging a defendant with such a crime is obvious error.

State v. Swanson 2019 ND 181
Docket No.: 20180373
Filing Date: 7/11/2019
Case Type: MISC. STATUTORY OFFENSE (FELONY)
Author: Jensen, Jon J.

Highlight: Conspiracy to commit a “knowing” murder is a non-cognizable offense.

Because the defendant may have been convicted of a non-cognizable offense, the matter was remanded for a new trial.

Minyard v. Lindseth 2019 ND 180
Docket No.: 20180311
Filing Date: 7/5/2019
Case Type: CHILD CUST & SUPPORT (Div.\Other)
Author: Tufte, Jerod E.

Highlight: For child support purposes, an obligor’s income must be sufficiently documented through the use of tax returns, current wage statements, and other information.

Self-employment income must be determined using the average of the most recent five years of self-employment activity if that information is available.

State v. Welch 2019 ND 179
Docket No.: 20180444
Filing Date: 7/3/2019
Case Type: MISC. STATUTORY OFFENSE (FELONY)
Author: Tufte, Jerod E.

Highlight: A district court does not abuse its discretion when in a criminal judgment it describes an inchoate crime by reference to both Chapter 12.1-06 and the statute specifying the underlying criminal offense.

Burden v. State 2019 ND 178
Docket No.: 20180353
Filing Date: 7/3/2019
Case Type: POST-CONVICTION RELIEF
Author: VandeWalle, Gerald W.

Highlight: A motion for summary disposition on the pleadings in a post-conviction proceeding is analogous to a N.D.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion and looks at the application in the light most favorable to the applicant and accepts well-pleaded allegations as true.

General allegations in a State’s answer to a post-conviction application are insufficient to put the applicant to his proof on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.

Lizakowski v. Lizakowski 2019 ND 177
Docket No.: 20180298
Filing Date: 7/2/2019
Case Type: DIVORCE/PROPERTY DIV./ALIMONY
Author: Tufte, Jerod E.

Highlight: In a divorce action, a spouse’s separate property, whether inherited or otherwise, must be included in the marital estate, and property brought into a marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance by one spouse may not be set aside to that spouse.

In dividing the marital estate, it is appropriate for the district court to consider the parties’ entire relationship when parties live together and then marry.

In a divorce action, the district court may award attorney’s fees when a party’s actions have unreasonably increased the time spent on a case.

State v. Wills 2019 ND 176
Docket No.: 20180342
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: DRUGS/CONTRABAND
Author: Crothers, Daniel John

Highlight: Investigative detention may continue only as long as reasonably necessary to conduct duties resulting from a traffic stop and to issue a warning or citation.
Whether reasonable suspicion exists is assessed by taking into account the totality of the circumstances and inferences and deductions that an investigating officer makes based on training and experience.
Reasonable suspicion requires more than a “mere hunch” by law enforcement.

State v. Lyons 2019 ND 175
Docket No.: 20180270
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: SEXUAL OFFENSE
Author: VandeWalle, Gerald W.

Highlight: A conviction rests upon insufficient evidence only when no rational fact finder could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution and giving the prosecution the benefit of all inferences reasonably to be drawn in its favor.

Claims for obvious error require an error that is plain and affects substantial rights, and the error must be a clear deviation from an applicable legal rule under current law.

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