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In re Marriage of Kvaternik

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 19, 2013

In re the Marriage of: Frank Andrew Kvaternik, petitioner, Respondent,
v.
Deanna Scherr Kvaternik n/k/a Deanna Lorraine Scherr, Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Dodge County District Court File No. 20-FA-10-1055

Amber Lawrence, Dittrich & Lawrence, P.A., Rochester, Minnesota (for respondent)

Deanna L. Scherr, Rochester, Minnesota (pro se appellant)

Considered and decided by Larkin, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Worke, Judge.

LARKIN, Judge

In this marital-dissolution case, appellant-wife challenges the district court's judgment and decree. Because the evidence sustains the district court's findings of fact, the findings support its conclusions of law, and we discern no reversible error, we affirm.

DECISION

Appellant-wife Deanna Lorraine Scherr and respondent-husband Frank Andrew Kvaternik were married in 1994. The parties have two children, born in 1996 and 2000 respectively. Husband filed for dissolution of the parties' marriage in 2010. Following a seven-day trial, the district court issued a 92-page judgment, which incorporates a thorough, detailed memorandum providing "additional context and authority" for its findings and conclusions. Wife challenges the district court's judgment and decree.

Absent a motion for a new trial, appellate review includes substantive legal issues properly raised to and considered by the district court, whether the evidence supports the findings of fact, and whether those findings support the conclusions of law and the judgment. Alpha Real Estate Co. of Rochester v. Delta Dental Plan of Minn., 664 N.W.2d 303, 311 (Minn. 2003) (stating that new-trial motion is not prerequisite to appellate review of substantive legal issues properly raised and considered in district court); Gruenhagen v. Larson, 310 Minn. 454, 458, 246 N.W.2d 565, 569 (1976) (stating that absent motion for new trial, appellate courts may review whether evidence supports findings of fact and whether findings support conclusions of law and judgment). We uphold the district court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous, Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01, and we will only determine a finding to be clearly erroneous if we are left with "the definite and firm conviction that a mistake was made." Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 474 (Minn.App. 2000). A district court abuses its discretion by making findings unsupported by the evidence or improperly applying the law. Lenz v. Lenz, 430 N.W.2d 168, 169 (Minn. 1988).

Wife raises numerous arguments on appeal. We will consider each argument in turn, with the exception of wife's change-of-venue and child-custody arguments because a special-term panel of this court previously determined that those issues are not properly before this court on appeal. Kvaternik v. Kvaternik, No. A12-1807 (Minn.App. Apr. 23, 2013) (order op.). We are not now allowed to reconsider that decision. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 140.01 (stating that there is no petition for rehearing in this court).

I.

Wife argues that the district court judge was biased against her. There is a "presumption that a [district court] judge has discharged his or her judicial duties properly, " and a party alleging bias has the burden to establish allegations sufficient to overcome this presumption. McKenzie v. State, 583 N.W.2d 744, 747 (Minn. 1998). "Prior adverse rulings by a judge, without more, do not constitute judicial bias." State v. Mems, 708 N.W.2d 526, 533 (Minn. 2006).

Wife did not move for judicial recusal or otherwise raise the bias issue in district court. An appellate court considers "only those issues that the record shows were presented and considered by the [district] court in deciding the matter before it." Gummow v. Gummow, 375 N.W.2d 30, 34 (Minn.App. 1985) (observing that appellant raised no objections that the district court judge was biased against her and did not move the judge to recuse himself) (quotation omitted). A party's failure to raise a claim of judicial bias during the proceedings in district court raises doubt about the timeliness of the issue on appeal. Id. ...


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