of Appellate Courts
Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Gunnar
B. Johnson, Duluth City Attorney, Joanne R. Piper-Maurer,
Marcus E. Jones, Assistant City Attorneys, Duluth, Minnesota,
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Charles
F. Clippert, Assistant Public Defender, Saint Paul,
Minnesota, for appellant.
Although a district court may not reserve its ruling on a
motion for judgment of acquittal made at the close of the
State's case, the court is not required to rule on the
motion before ruling on the State's motion to reopen its
district court did not abuse its discretion when it allowed
the State to reopen its case-in-chief in response to
appellant's motion for judgment of acquittal.
GILDEA, Chief Justice.
question presented in this case is whether a district court
may allow the State to reopen its case-in-chief before ruling
on the defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal made
at the close of the State's case. After the State rested,
appellant Quintin Lynn Thomas made a motion for judgment of
acquittal, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to
convict him of the charged offense. In response, the State
asked to reopen its case-in-chief. The district court granted
the State's request before considering Thomas' motion
for judgment of acquittal. After granting the State's
request to reopen, the court denied Thomas' motion for
judgment of acquittal and the jury found Thomas guilty.
Because we conclude that the district court did not err when
it granted the State's motion to reopen its case-in-chief
before considering Thomas' motion for judgment of
acquittal, we affirm.
was arrested for being in physical control of a motor vehicle
while under the influence of alcohol. Around 4 a.m., a police
officer noticed a pickup truck with its engine running. When
the officer approached the truck, he found Thomas asleep in
the front seat, with the keys in the ignition and the engine
running. The officer woke Thomas and observed indicia of
intoxication. He asked Thomas to perform field sobriety
tests, which Thomas did not pass. The officer arrested Thomas
and took him to the police station, where another officer
administered a breath test that showed Thomas' blood
alcohol concentration at .16 just before 5 a.m.
State charged Thomas with gross misdemeanor second-degree
driving while impaired, Minn. Stat. § 169A.25, subd.
1(a) (2016) (defining second-degree driving while impaired as
operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle
within two hours of having a blood alcohol concentration of
.08 or more if the offense is committed within 10 years of
"two or more aggravating factors"). According to the
State, Thomas' offense was a gross misdemeanor because
Thomas committed the current offense within 10 years of his
commission of two qualifying prior impaired driving
incidents. See Minn. Stat. § 169A.03, subd. 3
(2016). Specifically, the State relied on
Thomas' 2007 Minnesota loss of license, related to
impaired driving, and his 2006 Wisconsin conviction for
operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
pleaded not guilty and his case went to trial. During
pre-trial proceedings, defense counsel advised Thomas to
stipulate to the two prior impaired driving incidents,
explaining on the record that the State would likely be able
to establish those incidents. Defense counsel showed Thomas
certified copies of his driving record, which included the
2007 loss of license, and a certified copy of his 2006
Wisconsin conviction. The State pre-marked the certified
copies as Exhibits 2 and 3. Thomas declined to stipulate to
the prior incidents. In the same pre-trial proceeding, the
State agreed to redact certain portions of the certified
matter then proceeded to trial. The State presented its
case-in-chief, calling two witnesses-the police officers
involved in the case-to show that Thomas was in physical
control of a motor vehicle within 2 hours of having a blood
alcohol concentration of .08 or more. But the State rested
without offering the certified copies showing Thomas'
prior impaired driving incidents.
the jury's presence, Thomas made a "motion for a
directed verdict to the charge of second degree
DWI." Thomas argued that there was insufficient
evidence to convict him of the charged offense without the
certified copies showing the prior incidents. The prosecutor
responded that she had the certified copies "here."
The district ...