Recent Opinions

State v. Landrus 2019 ND 162
Docket No.: 20180343
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: ASSAULT
Author: Crothers, Daniel John

Highlight: A district court’s use of a defense of property jury instruction did not improperly shift the burden of the State to disprove the absence of self-defense.
A lesser included offense instruction may be requested by the prosecution or defense, or the court may give such an instruction.
Evidence is sufficient if it allows the jury to draw an inference reasonably tending to prove guilt and fairly warranting a conviction when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict.

City of West Fargo v. Williams 2019 ND 161
Docket No.: 20180447
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: DUI/DUS
Author: McEvers, Lisa K. Fair

Highlight: The right to an additional independent test under N.D.C.C. § 39-20-02 only arises when the driver submits to the chemical test requested by law enforcement.

An on-site screening test under N.D.C.C. § 39-20-14(3) is not the same as a chemical test under N.D.C.C. § 39-20-01(1) and therefore a person is not an “individual tested” under N.D.C.C. § 39-20-02 by virtue of his submission to on-site screening tests. Likewise, a person is not statutorily entitled to an independent test of his choosing because he submitted to on-site screening tests since a test in addition to “any administered” under N.D.C.C. § 39-20-02 refers to any administered chemical tests.

Klundt v. Benjamin 2019 ND 160
Docket No.: 20180419
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: CHILD CUST & SUPPORT (Div.\Other)
Author: Jensen, Jon J.

Highlight: The district court’s findings on the best interest factors, as well as its decision regarding primary residential responsibility, were not clearly erroneous.

The district court may discuss separation of siblings as part of, or separate from, the best interest factors, as long as the court adequately explains its decision.

The district court’s sua sponte decision to change the minor child’s last name was an abuse of discretion.

State v. Muhammad 2019 ND 159
Docket No.: 20180357
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: SEXUAL OFFENSE
Author: Jensen, Jon J.

Highlight: The district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the recordings of an interrogation without playing the recordings in their entirety.

The admission of recordings without playing them in open court does not violate a defendant’s right to a public trial.

The district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to admit evidence of prior sexual encounters between the defendant and the alleged victim.

Interiors by France v. Mitzel Contractors, Inc., et al. 2019 ND 158
Docket No.: 20180399
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: CONTRACTS
Author: Jensen, Jon J.

Highlight: An award of attorney fees to a prevailing plaintiff under N.D.C.C. § 27-08.1-04 does not extend to parties who were not part of the original small claims court proceedings.

State v. Pemberton 2019 ND 157
Docket No.: 20180414
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: MISC. STATUTORY OFFENSE (FELONY)
Author: Jensen, Jon J.

Highlight: Defendant failed to support his claim that a probable cause finding for a non-cognizable offense was obvious error.

The amendment of an attempted murder charge, while an abuse of discretion, did not rise to the level of obvious error.

Defendant failed to support his claim an error in the jury instructions was obvious error.

Defendant failed to support his claim an error in the verdict form was obvious error.

Defendant failed to support his claim that irregularities in the admonishments given to the jury during trial were obvious errors.

Hoffman v. Jevne 2019 ND 156
Docket No.: 20180367
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: CHILD CUST & SUPPORT (Div.\Other)
Author: Crothers, Daniel John

Highlight: If a party bringing a motion under N.D.R.Ct. 3.2 timely requests oral argument, the request must be granted.
If a party fails to request oral argument on a motion under N.D.R.Ct. 3.2, a district court has broad discretion to either require an evidentiary hearing or decide the motion on the basis of the parties’ submissions.

Wolt v. Wolt, et al. 2019 ND 155
Docket No.: 20180304
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: CHILD CUST & SUPPORT (Div.\Other)
Author: McEvers, Lisa K. Fair

Highlight: Although N.D. Admin. Code § 75-02-04.1-01(10) describes activities that are considered self-employment, the determination of a self-employed individual’s income is governed by N.D. Admin. Code § 75-02-04.1-05.

An obligor’s W-2 wages received from his Subchapter S corporation are not self-employment income.

Puklich v. Puklich, et al. 2019 ND 154
Docket No.: 20180301
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: OTHER (Civil)
Author: Jensen, Jon J.

Highlight: A district court’s findings on valuation of property will not be reversed unless they are clearly erroneous.

The application and appropriate amount of a minority discount and a lack-of-marketability discount are questions of fact.

If those in control of a closely-held corporation have acted fraudulently, illegally, or in a manner prejudicial to the shareholders, a court may dissolve the corporation or grant any equitable relief it deems just and reasonable.

Valuation of a partnership ownership interest should be determined as of the date of dissolution.

A court has discretion under partnership and corporation laws to fashion equitable remedies for a breach of fiduciary duties.

Appellate courts review the record and findings as a whole and if the controlling findings are supported by the evidence, they will be upheld on appeal notwithstanding immaterial misstatements in the lower court’s decision.

Unpled claims are not tried by the express or implied consent of the parties when the opposing party objects to the introduction of evidence relating to the unpled claim.

Bridgeford v. Sorel 2019 ND 153
Docket No.: 20180390
Filing Date: 6/27/2019
Case Type: TRANSPORTATION DEPT.
Author: Jensen, Jon J.

Highlight: An officer’s actions remained within the community caretaker exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment when he knocked on the car window of an individual who appeared to be sleeping with the car running in a gas station parking lot.

An officer’s actions remained within the community caretaker exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment when entering an individual’s vehicle subsequent to the individual’s failure to respond to the officer’s attempts to gain his attention outside the vehicle.

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