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State v. Bendzula

March 16, 2004

STATE OF MINNESOTA, APPELLANT,
v.
RANDY SCOTT BENDZULA, RESPONDENT.



Scott County District Court File No. 2000-19597

Considered and decided by Klaphake , Presiding Judge, Randall , Judge, and Crippen , Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The appellate courts defer to the trial court's assessment of reduced culpability in its exercise of traditional sentencing discretion, including the court's examination of atypical considerations of the case and its attention given to public policy aims stated in the state sentencing guidelines.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crippen, Judge*fn1

Affirmed

OPINION

Appellant State of Minnesota disputes the trial court's downward durational departure from state sentencing guidelines, contending that the court acted beyond its authority under the sentencing guidelines. Giving deference required for the trial court's exercise of discretion in assessing the particular circumstances of this case, we affirm.

FACTS

In 1999, Hennepin County authorities arrested an immigrant friend of respondent Randy Bendzula for selling cocaine. The seller was told that he could avoid deportation by cooperating with the police and implicating those who had supplied drugs to him. He implicated respondent by asking his help to get drugs on five occasions during the first half of 2000. The first and last purchases occurred in Hennepin County; the second, third, and fourth occurred in Scott County. Respondent was similarly asked to assist police but declined to act as an informant.

A Scott County jury found respondent guilty on two charges of first-degree sale of cocaine. The presentence investigation indicated that respondent's sentence on the first count, with four criminal history points, would be imprisonment for 134 months under sentencing guidelines and that the sentence on the second count would be 158 months; the report recommended that the sentences be served concurrently. At the sentencing hearing, respondent moved for a downward departure to 58 months imprisonment. The trial court sentenced respondent to 84 months.

ISSUE

Did the sentencing judge exceed his authority in determining cause for a downward durational departure when sentencing respondent?

ANALYSIS

I. Standard of ...


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