Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-12-7329
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Elizabeth Johnston, Jean Burdorf, Assistant County Attorneys, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
William M. Ward, Hennepin County Public Defender, James A. Kamin, Assistant Public Defender, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Stauber, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Schellhas, Judge.
The district court does not have discretion under Minn. Stat. § 609.1055 (2010) to grant a downward dispositional departure to a defendant with severe and persistent mental illness when an executed sentence of imprisonment is mandatory under Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subd. 8(b) (2010).
Appellant challenges his executed 60-month sentence of imprisonment for possession of a firearm by an ineligible person, arguing that the district court erred by concluding that Minn. Stat. § 609.1055 does not authorize a district court to stay a prison sentence when an executed sentence of imprisonment is mandatory under Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subd. 8(b). We affirm.
In March 2012, police apprehended appellant Lamont Terell Mayl while responding to a 911 call that reported a man running down Franklin Avenue carrying a gun. When he was apprehended, appellant was in possession of a black BB gun and a stun gun. At the time of the offense, appellant was on probation for his 2010 conviction of ineligible person in possession of a firearm.
Appellant pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by an ineligible person in violation of Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(2) (2010),  and one count of possession of an electronic incapacitation device by an ineligible person in violation of Minn. Stat. § 624.731, subd. 3(b) (2010). The mandatory minimum sentence for the offense of possession of a firearm by an ineligible person is five years of imprisonment. Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subd. 5(b) (2010). The district court is required to execute this sentence if the offender has a prior conviction in which the offender used or possessed a firearm, including possession of a firearm by an ineligible person. Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subds. 8(b), 9 (2010).
Appellant moved for a downward dispositional departure, arguing that because of his serious and persistent mental illness, the district court had discretion to sentence him to probation under Minn. Stat. § 609.1055 and that Minn. Stat. § 609.11 does not prevent the exercise of that discretion. At the sentencing hearing, appellant presented evidence— which the state did not dispute—that his 18-year history of schizophrenia has rendered him a vulnerable adult. His probation officer, case manager, psychiatrist, and psychiatric nurse all testified that since his arrest, appellant's conditional release program—which required participation in a mental health program, regular UAs, and monthly medication injections—had been successful and that he would not pose a risk to public safety if given a probationary sentence that imposed requirements similar to his conditional release. These witnesses also testified that a prison sentence would be detrimental to appellant's treatment and overall well-being.
The district court issued a sentencing order holding that section 609.1055 does not authorize a district court to stay a prison sentence when an executed sentence is mandatory under Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subd. 8(b). The district court reasoned that, under section 609.1055, "serious and persistent mental illness" is simply an additional mitigating factor that can constitute a basis for departure and therefore is subject to the mandatory dictates in Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subd. 8(b). Accordingly, the district court had ...