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Taylor v. State

Supreme Court of Minnesota

April 4, 2018

Kemen Lavatos Taylor, II, Appellant,
v.
State of Minnesota, Respondent.

         Hennepin County Office of Appellate Courts

          Jennifer Macaulay, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Deborah Ellis, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Jean Burdorf, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent.

         SYLLABUS

         Appellant forfeited appellate review of his argument that the interests-of-justice exception to the rule announced in State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737 (Minn. 1976), applies in his case by not raising that argument before the district court.

         Affirmed.

          OPINION

          ANDERSON, Justice.

         In this first-degree murder case, appellant Kemen Lavatos Taylor II appeals from a postconviction order that summarily denied his public-trial claim, concluding that Taylor's claim was barred by the rule announced in State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737 (Minn. 1976). On appeal, Taylor argues that the interests-of-justice exception to the Knaffla rule should be applied in his case, which would allow his petition for postconviction relief to be heard on its merits. Because Taylor forfeited appellate review of this argument when he failed to raise the argument before the district court, we affirm.

         FACTS

         Following a jury trial, Taylor was convicted of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with the shooting of three teenage gang members.[1]

         After several days of jury selection, the district court announced a list of rules for those attending the trial; those rules required spectators to provide photographic identification before entering the courtroom and outlined general behavior expectations regarding profanity, hand gestures, cell phones, and gum.[2] According to the court, the rules were a response to "past appearances, " which had included "some disruptions [from] persons in the gallery."[3] The district court noted that "the deputies of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office have been authorized to enforce these rules."

         Taylor filed a direct appeal with our court, which raised several issues, including a claim that the district court violated Taylor's right to a public trial by requiring spectators to present photographic identification before entering the courtroom. In our discussion of Taylor's public-trial claim, we explained the threshold issue of "whether a closure even occurred." State v. Taylor, 869 N.W.2d 1, 11 (Minn. 2015). More specifically, we said:

[T]here is no evidence in the record that a significant portion of the public was unable to attend due to the identification requirement; that Taylor, his family, his friends, or any witnesses were excluded; or that any individuals actually excluded were known to Taylor. Further, unlike in Lindsey, in which two unidentified minors were actually excluded, here there is simply no evidence that the requirement was enforced, or, if so, that even a single individual-identifiable or not-was actually excluded. Thus, we hold that the photographic identification requirement did not constitute a "true" closure.

Id. at 11-12 (distinguishing State v. Lindsey, 632 N.W.2d 652 (Minn. 2001)). In other words, we concluded "that the photographic identification requirement did not constitute a 'true' closure" based on the lack of evidence that the photographic identification requirement excluded anyone, including ...


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