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State v. Hirman

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 28, 2013

State of Minnesota, Appellant,
Jason Paul Hirman, Respondent.


Dakota County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-12-2604

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Tricia A. Loehr, Assistant County Attorney, Hastings, Minnesota (for appellant)

Mark D. Nyvold, Special Assistant State Public Defender, Fridley, Minnesota (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Schellhas, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Worke, Judge.


Appellant challenges the district court's (1) conclusion that probable cause did not support a search warrant, (2) suppression of all evidence seized under the search warrant, and (3) dismissal of the state's complaint. Because the district court clearly and unequivocally erred, we reverse and remand for trial.


On July 26, 2012, Eagan Police Department Detective Brian Gunderson submitted to the district court a search-warrant application and affidavit, seeking permission to search a storage locker used by respondent Jason Hirman at an Eagan storage facility where more than 160 items had been stolen during 19 burglaries and 3 thefts between May 24, 2011, and July 19, 2012. The value of the stolen items exceeded $45, 000. Detective Gunderson alleged in his affidavit that video-surveillance footage revealed that Hirman and an accomplice committed a burglary on July 19, 2012, and stole a cracked, flat-screen television; blankets; padlocks; and a weed whacker. The district court issued the requested search warrant on July 26, finding that "probable cause exists to believe" that the items listed in the warrant application were in Hirman's storage locker. The same day, Detective Gunderson executed the search warrant and signed a "Receipt, Inventory and Return" document, stating that he took custody of a "stolen" "Green Lee Gang Box" tool container that contained "numerous misc tools [and] other property."[1]

Appellant State of Minnesota charged Hirman on July 27, 2012, with one count of receiving stolen property under Minn. Stat. §§ 609.53, subd. 1, .52, subd. 3(3)(a) (2010). The probable-cause statement in the complaint describes the stolen items as "numerous large tool boxes[;] . . . at least two Joboxes, which are large metal tool boxes used at construction sites to contain large construction tools"; and tools within the Joboxes and identifies the victims of the Jobox thefts as a South Dakota construction site and a "South Dakota victim" associated with construction sites. Although the July 26 search warrant listed numerous construction-related items, it did not list Joboxes. After execution of the July 26 search warrant, police sought two additional warrants, including one to search the contents of a large green Jobox found during the initial search of Hirman's storage locker.

Hirman moved to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the July 26 search warrant "because the warrant application contained omissions and misrepresentations that were material to the issue of probable cause"; "all evidence obtained as a result of the search warrant in relation to this case, as the search warrant was not supported by probable cause"; and "all evidence . . . deemed 'fruit of the poisonous tree.'" Hirman requested suppression of any evidence resulting from execution of the subsequent two warrants, including the Jobox, arguing that the evidence was "fruit[] of the poisonous tree."

Noting that execution of the July 26 search warrant revealed "[n]one of the items enumerated in the Warrant" but rather revealed property reported stolen from "a [South Dakota] construction site, " the district court suppressed all evidence for lack of probable cause in the search warrant. The court stated that the circumstances in the case were "clearly suggestive of a pre-textual basis for seeking the Search Warrant, " and dismissed the state's complaint. The court did not address Hirman's omissions-and-misrepresentations argument except to say that its probable-cause finding would stand "even if the omissions and misrepresentations raised by [Hirman] were resolved." The court denied the state's motion for reconsideration in which the state, for the first time, argued against suppression on the basis of the good-faith exception. This appeal follows.


The state challenges the district court's suppression of evidence and pretrial dismissal of its complaint. "The State may appeal pretrial orders of the district court when the State can [clearly and unequivocally] show that 'the district court's alleged error, unless reversed, will have a critical impact on the outcome of the trial.'" State v. Zais, 805 N.W.2d 32, 35–36 (Minn. 2011) (quoting Minn. R. Crim. P. 28.04, subd. 2). Here, the suppression and consequent dismissal clearly and unequivocally critically impacted the outcome of the trial. See State v. Holmes, 569 N.W.2d 181, 184 (Minn. 1997) ("The dismissal of the charge following a suppression of all the evidence clearly meets the critical impact element . . . ."). ...

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