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State v. Litzau

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

March 27, 2017

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Robert Arthur Litzau, Appellant.

         Cass County District Court File No. 11-CR-15-1322

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Christopher J. Strandlie, Cass County Attorney, Jeanine R. Brand, Assistant County Attorney, Walker, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Benjamin J. Butler, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Stauber, Presiding Judge; Rodenberg, Judge; and Smith, John, Judge. [*]

         SYLLABUS

         Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2) (2014), prohibits a person from obstructing and resisting a peace officer effectuating that person's arrest.

          OPINION

          RODENBERG, Judge

         Appellant Robert Litzau appeals from his conviction of obstruction of legal process by force or violence under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2). He argues that he did not violate section 609.50, subd. 1(2), because the peace officer he is claimed to have obstructed was not "engaged in the performance of official duties." Appellant also argues that the statute under which he is charged does not prohibit obstructing one's own arrest. We affirm.

         FACTS

         As of July 30, 2015, appellant was serving the supervised-release portion of a commitment to the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC). His independent supervised release (ISR) agent issued an order that appellant be detained for violating his release conditions by having contact with a child.[1] The ISR agent asked the Cass County Sheriff's Department for assistance in "picking up" appellant. An officer accompanied the ISR agent to apprehend appellant at appellant's house.

         When the ISR agent and the officer arrived at appellant's house, they told appellant that there was a warrant for his arrest. Appellant responded by walking, and then running, away from the officer and agent. The officer followed appellant. After a short but vigorous struggle, the officer handcuffed and arrested appellant.

         Appellant was charged with obstruction of legal process by force or violence under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2), and with fleeing a police officer by means other than a motor vehicle under Minn. Stat. § 609.487, subd. 6 (2014). Appellant was convicted on both counts after a court trial. This appeal followed.

         ISSUES

         I. Do a peace officer's "official duties" under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2), include ...


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