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State v. Isaacson

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

September 3, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Corey Christopher Isaacson, Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Meeker County District Court File No. 47-CR-11-727

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Karen B. Andrews, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Anthony Spector, Meeker County Attorney, Litchfield, Minnesota (for respondent).

David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Roy G. Spurbeck, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant).

Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Schellhas, Judge.

SCHELLHAS, Judge

Appellant challenges his convictions of and sentences for driving while intoxicated and refusal to submit to chemical testing, arguing that (1) the district court erroneously instructed the jury, (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and (3) the district court abused its discretion in sentencing him. We affirm.

FACTS

In the early morning hours of August 14, 2011, while parked in his squad car in a lot near the intersection of County State Aid Highway 14 and Curran Street in Darwin, Meeker County Deputy Sheriff Jeffrey Pedersen observed a dark blue, two-door sports utility vehicle (SUV) traveling erratically. The SUV exited a driveway; rapidly accelerated; made a left turn; stopped suddenly at an intersection; quickly accelerated into a right turn, turning wide and into the oncoming-traffic lane; "overcorrected" into its own traffic lane; and again swerved into the oncoming-traffic lane before returning to its own traffic lane. At the time, the road surfaces were dry.

Deputy Pedersen believed that the driving he observed indicated that the SUV driver was either impaired or distracted. When Deputy Pedersen activated his emergency lights and began to follow the SUV, it accelerated and drove quickly through a horseshoe-shaped driveway, before it "slammed on its brakes" in front of a barricade in the driveway. The driver immediately exited the vehicle, leaving the engine running and the driver's door open, and walked towards Deputy Pedersen's squad car. Deputy Pedersen observed that the driver had difficulty maintaining his balance, and Deputy Pedersen approached him and saw an open can of beer on the console of the SUV. Deputy Pedersen asked the driver, later identified with a Tennessee I.D. as appellant Corey Isaacson, why he was trying to flee and why he was in a hurry, and Isaacson "shrugged his shoulders and said he was trying to get away." Deputy Pedersen noticed a very strong odor of alcohol coming from Isaacson, that his eyes were bloodshot and watery, and that his speech was at times slurred. Based on his observations of Isaacson's driving and conduct, Deputy Pedersen believed that Isaacson was under the influence of alcohol.

Isaacson refused to perform the standardized field sobriety tests requested by Deputy Pedersen, so Deputy Pedersen arrested him on probable cause of driving while impaired (DWI) and transported him to the jail, where a corrections sergeant observed that Isaacson "went directly to the chairs"; laid "flat out"; "smelled of an alcoholic beverage"; was "very glassy eyed"; had "runny, runny eyes, teary, teary eyes"; "talked quietly"; and "mumbled." The corrections sergeant opined that Isaacson was under the influence of alcohol.

Deputy Pedersen repeatedly attempted to administer the implied-consent advisory. Isaacson refused to take the test, asking the deputy to take him to his jail cell, telling the deputy that he was "confused" about his right to call an attorney, and stating that he "studied law for years" and that the deputy could not question him without violating his Miranda rights. Isaacson told Deputy Pedersen that he had just driven from Baltimore and had no idea what Deputy Pedersen was talking about, he did not know how to call an attorney, he would not answer any of Deputy Pedersen's questions, and he wanted to go straight to his cell.

Respondent State of Minnesota charged Isaacson with (1) felony driving while impaired under Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1(1) (2010); (2) felony refusal to submit to chemical testing under Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 2 (2010); (3) possession of an open container while in a vehicle under Minn. Stat. § 169A.35, subd. 3 (2010); (4) driving after revocation of his driver's license under Minn. Stat. § 171.24, subd. 2 (2010); and (5) fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle under Minn. Stat. § 609.487, subd. 3 (2010). Isaacson filed numerous pro se motions with the district court, including, pertinent to this appeal, motions to suppress evidence of his test refusal. The district court held two omnibus hearings and issued a 30-page omnibus order and memorandum denying Isaacson's motions in their entirety. Before trial, the state dismissed the open-container charge, and the district court excluded Isaacson's evidence that his refusal to take the breath test resulted from his confusion. At the close of trial, the district court denied Isaacson's request for a reasonable-refusal jury instruction.

The jury found Isaacson guilty of all counts. The district court sentenced Isaacson to the presumptive sentence of 60 months' imprisonment for felony DWI with 270 days' jail credit; 72 months' imprisonment for DWI test refusal with 270 days' jail credit, to run concurrently with Isaacson's sentence for felony DWI; the presumptive sentence of 12 months and one day for fleeing a police officer, to run consecutively with ...


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