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New opinions: May 6 Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Supreme Court has issued five 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:

Atkins v. State 2021 ND 83
Docket No.: 20200266
Filing Date: 5/6/2021
Author: McEvers, Lisa K. Fair

Highlight: A district court may summarily dismiss a successive application for post-conviction relief under N.D.C.C. § 23-32.1-09(1) on its own motion before the State answers when the issues raised in the application have been previously decided by this Court.

An applicant for post-conviction relief is entitled to notice that the application may be summarily dismissed. A court’s failure to provide notice prior to summary dismissal constitutes harmless error if a party fails to establish prejudice.

A district court’s error in dismissing an application for post-conviction relief based on an affirmative defense not pleaded by the State does not prejudice the applicant when the court had alternative statutory authority to summarily dismiss the application.

Lizakowski v. Lizakowski 2021 ND 82
Docket No.: 20200269
Filing Date: 5/6/2021
Case Type: CHILD CUST & SUPPORT (Div.\Other)
Author: VandeWalle, Gerald W.

Highlight: An amended divorce judgment is summarily affirmed under N.D.R.App.P. 35.1(a)(2), (4), and (7), and double costs and attorney’s fees are awarded under N.D.R.App.P. 38.

City of West Fargo v. Medbery 2021 ND 81
Docket No.: 20200222
Filing Date: 5/6/2021
Case Type: OTHER (Crim.)
Author: McEvers, Lisa K. Fair

Highlight: This Court does not weigh conflicting evidence or judge credibility of witnesses on appeal. We will affirm a district court’s decision on a motion to suppress if there is competent evidence capable of supporting the court’s findings, and the decision is not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

When a law enforcement officer approaches a parked vehicle to inquire in a conversational manner whether an occupant is okay or needs assistance, the officer is engaged in community caretaking. A community caretaking encounter can lead to a lawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment, provided the officer undertakes the caretaking encounter to aid a person in apparent need of assistance, and during the encounter the officer develops a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity.

State v. Lafromboise 2021 ND 80
Docket No.: 20200294
Filing Date: 5/6/2021
Author: Crothers, Daniel John

Highlight: A district court’s decision to grant an extension or a continuance for good cause will not be reversed on appeal unless the court abused its discretion.

Interest of K.V. 2021 ND 79
Docket No.: 20200257
Filing Date: 5/6/2021
Case Type: JUVENILE LAW (Criminal)
Author: McEvers, Lisa K. Fair

Highlight: Concerns about officer safety may justify a pat down search for weapons, but a subsequent pocket search must be justified as independently reasonable because they are distinct efforts. A pat down may justify a pocket search when an officer’s tactile perceptions lead to the conclusion the subject possesses a weapon or it is clear from the plain feel the object felt during the pat down is contraband.

The odor of marijuana alone is not sufficient to establish probable cause to search a passenger in a vehicle, but it is a factor that may contribute to a finding of probable cause to conduct a warrantless search under the totality of the circumstances.