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State v. Gussiaas

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 23, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Jerome Dominic Gussiaas, Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Hennepin County District Court File No. 27CR1050242.

Lori A. Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda K. Jenny, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

Anthony M. Grostyan, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Stauber, Presiding Judge; Bjorkman, Judge; and Minge, Judge. [*]

STAUBER, Judge

On appeal from his convictions of two counts of misdemeanor domestic assault, appellant argues that (1) he was denied his right to a speedy trial; (2) the district court abused its discretion by granting the state's motion to exclude appellant's expert witness; and (3) the district court abused its discretion by denying appellant's request for a brief continuance to allow his expert witness to testify. We affirm.

FACTS

Appellant Jerome Dominic Gussiaas was charged with felony domestic assault by strangulation and two counts of misdemeanor domestic assault for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend A.B. After several continuances, a jury trial began in October 2012, two years after the complaint was filed. A.B. testified that on October 2, 2010, she was involved in an argument with appellant at her apartment. According to A.B., appellant's "anger escalated" and he grabbed her and "threw [her] into the door frame." A.B. also testified that appellant grabbed the sides of her arms and "pinned" her down on the bed, and later wrapped his hands around her throat and choked her. Photographs of bruises and marks on A.B.'s body were admitted into evidence, which allegedly depicted the injuries A.B. sustained during the assaults.

After the state rested, a discussion was held regarding appellant's request to call Dr. Steven Tredal as an expert witness to give his medical opinion "as to whether or not [A.B.] received an injury or even physical contact to the neck." Because he was not available to testify at the onset of appellant's case, appellant asked the district court for a brief continuance to allow Dr. Tredal to testify. The district court denied the request. The issue of Dr. Tredal's availability was then discussed further by the parties, prompting the state to request a ruling on its motion to exclude Dr. Tredal as a witness. Concluding that his testimony would not "be helpful to the trier of fact, " the district court granted the state's motion to exclude Dr. Tredal's testimony.

The jury found appellant not guilty of felony domestic assault by strangulation, but guilty of the remaining two misdemeanor domestic assault charges. The district court then sentenced appellant to "90 days in the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility, " imposed a $1, 000 fine, and ordered restitution. This appeal followed.

DECISION

I.

Appellant argues that he was denied his right to a speedy trial. The United States and Minnesota Constitutions guarantee the right to a speedy trial. U.S. Const. amend. VI; Minn. Const. art. I., § 6; State v. DeRosier, 695 N.W.2d 97, 108 (Minn. 2005). "A speedy-trial challenge presents a constitutional question subject to de novo review." State ...


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