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State v. L.W.J.

July 18, 2006

STATE OF MINNESOTA, APPELLANT,
v.
L.W.J., RESPONDENT.



Washington County District Court File No. K2-02-2403.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Minn. Stat. § 609A.03, subd. 5 (2004), does not set forth additional statutory grounds for expungement beyond those grounds set forth in Minn. Stat. § 609A.02 (2004 & Supp. 2005); it merely provides that once a petitioner establishes grounds for expungement under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, subd. 3, the burden shifts to the agency or jurisdiction whose records will be affected by expungement to show by clear and convincing evidence that the interests of the public outweigh the disadvantages to the petitioner of not sealing the record.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dietzen, Judge

Reversed

Concurring specially, Harten, Judge*fn1

Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Dietzen, Judge; and Harten, Judge.

OPINION

Appellant challenges the district court's order granting respondent's petition to expunge her criminal records, arguing that the district court lacked both statutory authority to expunge court records and inherent authority to expunge executive-branch records. Because we conclude that the district court lacked statutory authority under Minn. Stat. § 609A.03 to expunge respondent's court records and lacked inherent authority to expunge executive-branch records, we reverse.

FACTS

In April 2002, appellant State of Minnesota charged respondent L.W.J. with gross-misdemeanor theft in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subd. 2(1) (2004), for stealing $450 worth of merchandise from an outlet store in Woodbury. Respondent subsequently pleaded guilty to an amended charge of misdemeanor theft and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. The 60-day sentence was suspended on the conditions that respondent successfully complete one year of probation, perform sentence-to-serve hours, pay a fine and restitution, and remain law-abiding.

Following successful completion of the sentencing conditions, respondent filed a petition to expunge the records of her theft conviction under Minn. Stat. § 609A.03 (2004). In the petition, respondent stated,

I am seeking expungement for employment purposes. I know I have made mistakes but I am older and wise and have learned from those mistakes. I am a single mother and have two children who deserve a better life. Providing for my children would be easier if I was employed. When I applied for jobs at the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Minnesota Department of Health, I was informed in writing that I am disqualified due to my criminal record.

Respondent indicated that, "I have gotten my G.E.D., a nice place for my children to live, and have completed training as a certified nurse assistant with the Red Cross and passed the state test. I am looking forward to starting at St. Paul Tech in the fall."

Appellant opposed the petition to expunge, arguing that the district court lacked statutory authority to expunge the records because respondent pleaded guilty and was convicted of the offense and the matter was not therefore resolved "in favor" of respondent. Appellant also argued that the ...


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