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New opinions: June 21 Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Supreme Court has issued seven new opinions.

The summaries are below.

To see an opinion, click on the "View Opinion" button. Opinions display in a printable format. Hyperlinks to all North Dakota opinions and rules cited in an opinion are included in the text: hover over the citation and click to follow the hyperlink.

See other Supreme Court opinions at:

State v. Noble 2023 ND 119
Docket No.: 20220363
Filing Date: 6/21/2023
Author: Bahr, Douglas Alan

Highlight: When the sufficiency of evidence to support a criminal conviction is challenged, the record is reviewed on appeal to determine if there is competent evidence allowing the jury to draw an inference reasonably tending to prove guilt and fairly warranting a conviction.

Interest of I.C. 2023 ND 118
Docket No.: 20230135
Filing Date: 6/21/2023
Author: Per Curiam

Highlight: A juvenile court judgment terminating parental rights is summarily affirmed under N.D.R.App.P. 35.1(a)(2) and (4).

Laducer v. Laducer, et al. 2023 ND 117
Docket No.: 20230002
Filing Date: 6/21/2023
Case Type: CHILD CUST & SUPPORT (Div.\Other)
Author: Per Curiam

Highlight: A district court order denying a motion to review and amend child support is summarily affirmed under N.D.R.App.P. 35.1(a)(2) and (8).

State v. Gardner 2023 ND 116
Docket No.: 20220360
Filing Date: 6/21/2023
Author: Bahr, Douglas Alan

Highlight: A criminal judgment entered after a jury convicted defendant of child abuse in violation of N.D.C.C. § 14-09-22 is affirmed.

A district court’s use of “willfully allowed to be inflicted” in the jury instructions for an allegation of child abuse under N.D.C.C. § 14-09-22 is not obvious error if counsel fails to establish the instruction is a clear deviation from an applicable legal rule under current law.

The North Dakota Legislature chose to enumerate two alternative means of committing child abuse under N.D.C.C. § 14-09-22 without intending to define separate elements or crimes. A jury is not required to unanimously agree upon which of the two alternative means of committing child abuse it believes the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

State v. Coons 2023 ND 115
Docket No.: 20220289
Filing Date: 6/21/2023
Author: Tufte, Jerod E.

Highlight: A closure may occur where some or all members of the public are precluded from perceiving contemporaneously what is transpiring in the courtroom, because they can neither see nor hear what is going on. When questioning occurs at the bench, the public can still observe the proceedings, thus furthering the values that the public trial right is designed to protect, and can hear the general questions posed to the jury panel.

A trial court has great discretion over how to conduct a trial and to keep questioning within bounds and may remind counsel to refrain from further incursions into collateral and immaterial matters.

A district court has the common law power to explain, summarize, and comment on the facts and evidence and may also question witnesses and analyze and dissect the evidence. A court may not, however, act as a witness, nor add to or distort the evidence. If a judge exceeds the limitations on his power, it may amount to prejudicial error and require reversal.

Asiama v. Asumeng, et al. 2023 ND 114
Docket No.: 20220307
Filing Date: 6/21/2023
Case Type: CHILD CUST & SUPPORT (Div.\Other)
Author: Crothers, Daniel John

Highlight: The district court must value marital property as of the valuation date.

The court must determine the marital property’s total value before making an equitable distribution.

A district court has broad discretion over the conduct of trial and presentation of evidence, and may impose reasonable restrictions on the length of the trial and on the number of witnesses allowed.

Orwig v. Orwig 2023 ND 113
Docket No.: 20220247
Filing Date: 6/21/2023
Author: Bahr, Douglas Alan

Highlight: While the district court may direct a party prepare and submit to the court a proposed summary real estate disposition judgment, nothing in the relevant statute prohibits a party from submitting a proposed summary real estate disposition judgment for the court’s consideration absent direction from the court to do so.

A district court generally does not retain jurisdiction to modify a final property distribution, but the court has broad equitable powers to redistribute property in a post-judgment proceeding when a party fails to comply with the terms of an order distributing property.

A party seeking a contempt sanction has the burden to clearly and satisfactorily prove the alleged contempt was committed. Whether contempt has been committed lies within the district court’s discretion.

The district court has discretion in deciding what interest rate to apply to a monetary award in a divorce action.

Damages and single or double costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees, may be awarded on appeal if an appeal is frivolous. An appeal is frivolous if it is flagrantly groundless, devoid of merit, or demonstrates persistence in the course of litigation which evidences bad faith.