County District Court File No. 62-CR-13-178
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Jessica
Merz-Godes, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota
Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John J.
Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Kaarin Long, Assistant County
Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Bjorkman,
Judge; and Jesson, Judge.
defendant is not required to use a peremptory challenge to
strike a juror who should have been removed for cause in
order to preserve the claim that the for-cause denial
impaired the defendant's right to a fair trial.
State of Minnesota challenges the postconviction court's
reversal of respondent Justin Stephen Ries's conviction
for ineligible possession of a firearm and grant of a new
trial due to juror bias. Ries appeals the denial of his
motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a
warrantless search and seizure. We affirm.
lived in an apartment in St. Paul with her brother and her
six-month-old son. During the evening of January 4, 2013,
Ries and two other men came over to visit S.A.'s brother.
S.A. did not know Ries but was told, before he arrived, that
the men from Iowa (one of whom was Ries) would leave their
guns in the car. The adults drank alcohol late into the
evening while the child slept in S.A.'s bedroom. S.A.
woke up at about 3:30 a.m. and saw that the men had passed
out, with the exception of Ries, who was trying to lift
himself from the living room floor onto a couch. S.A. noticed
the butt of a gun tucked in the waistband of Ries's
jeans. Unable to wake her brother, S.A. called 911. She told
the dispatcher that she could not sleep knowing that one of
the intoxicated men had a gun, especially with her young
child in the apartment. She asked the dispatcher to send
officers to remove the men from the apartment.
Paul Police Officer Jeffery Korus was the first to arrive at
the scene; S.A. met him outside. She explained the layout of
the apartment, and described Ries's appearance, location
on the couch, and where the handgun would be found. After
officers Zachary Tabatt and Rod Larson arrived, the three
entered the apartment in order to "remove the males from
the apartment" and "secur[e] the handgun."
Ries was sleeping on his back. The officers were concerned
about startling Ries as he woke up, so they decided to first
remove the gun from his possession. Officer Tabatt secured
Ries's hands and Officer Korus placed them in cuffs
before patting Ries's clothing. When the officers could
not find the gun, they rolled Ries over and saw the butt of
the gun inside Ries's coat, under his side. Officer Korus
retrieved the gun, which contained six live rounds. It took
the officers a minute to awaken and identify Ries. After
learning that Ries was not eligible to possess a firearm,
Officer Tabatt placed him under arrest.
state charged Ries with ineligible possession of a firearm.
Ries moved to suppress evidence of the gun as the fruit of an
unconstitutional search and seizure. The district court
denied Ries's motion, reasoning that Ries's seizure
was justified by the emergency-aid exception to the warrant
requirement. During voir dire, potential juror A.P.
disclosed that she was employed as a 911 dispatcher for the
Washington County Sheriff's Department. A.P. stated that
she would give more weight to a police officer's
testimony because she considers herself to be their
"backup." And she later added that she would likely
interpret things in a 911 call that other people "might
not be trained to hear" and that it would be hard for
her to turn that off. Despite the prosecutor's attempts
to rehabilitate A.P., she ultimately stated that she would
side with police officers if there was a conflict in the
moved to strike A.P. for cause. The district court questioned
A.P. further, then denied the motion, determining that A.P.
was sufficiently rehabilitated. Ries did not use one of his
five remaining peremptory challenges to remove A.P., who
served as a juror. The jury found Ries guilty. On August 29,
2013, the district court sentenced Ries to 48 months in
August 19, 2015, Ries filed a petition for postconviction
relief, alleging that denial of his motion to remove A.P. for
cause was structural error. Ries also alleged that the
district court committed reversible error by denying his
motion to suppress the gun.The postconviction court denied
the suppression motion, reasoning that Ries was not seized.
But the postconviction court granted Ries's motion for a
new trial because juror A.P. expressed actual bias and was
state appeals the reversal of Ries's conviction and grant
of a new trial. In a related appeal, Ries challenges the
denial of his motion to suppress the gun evidence.
the postconviction court abuse its discretion in granting
Ries a new trial ...