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State v. Schloegl

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 7, 2018

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Anton Leo Schloegl, III, Appellant, State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Anton Leo Schloegl, III, Appellant.

          Washington County District Court File No. 82-CR-16-1609

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Jennifer Lauermann, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael A. Welch, Forest Lake City Attorney, Forest Lake, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Ross, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         A district court's no-contact order violates a criminal defendant's constitutional right to confront a witness when the order states that the defendant is prohibited from contact with the witness even in a court proceeding, the defendant indicates that he interprets the order as prohibiting him from personally cross-examining the witness, and the district court does not relieve the defendant of the purported consequences of violating the order for the purpose of facilitating cross-examination.

          OPINION

          ROSS, JUDGE

         After the state charged Anton Schloegl with domestic assault, the district court issued a no-contact order prohibiting him from having contact with the alleged victim, including in court. After the victim testified against him, Schloegl, who was representing himself, declined to cross-examine her expressly to avoid violating the order. Also during the trial, Schloegl yelled profanities and threw a pitcher. The jury found Schloegl guilty of domestic assault, and the district court found him guilty of criminal contempt for his courtroom misconduct. Because the district court was not required to present the question of Schloegl's criminal contempt to a jury and the circumstances support the contempt finding, we affirm in part. But we hold that Schloegl's right to confront an adverse witness was denied when the district court did not expressly relieve Schloegl of the no-contact order's facial prohibition against having contact with the state's witness during his trial for the purpose of cross-examination. We therefore reverse in part.

         FACTS

         Police arrested Anton Schloegl and the state charged him for allegedly assaulting S.O., his fiancée, during a car trip to Duluth in April 2016. During Schloegl's arraignment on two counts of misdemeanor domestic assault, the district court issued a no-contact order prohibiting Schloegl from having any contact with S.O. The district court orally emphasized, "No contact means no contact whatsoever." It warned that "any attempt to contact her whatsoever" would result in his being "charged with new crimes." It cautioned, "[Y]ou have no idea how many guys never even make it out of jail before they violate these and they find themselves in deeper water." The part of the written order that we focus on here emphasizes that the prohibition against contact with S.O. "applies regardless of whether you are in jail or at the courthouse for a court appearance."

         Schloegl discharged his public defender and proceeded to trial without legal counsel. The prosecutor called S.O. as the state's first witness. She testified that while Schloegl drove them toward Duluth she and Schloegl began arguing about her interaction with another man. She said that Schloegl pulled her engagement ring from a necklace around her neck and threw it out the window. She said that he grabbed her hair, struck her in the temple, and forced her head downward and caused it to hit the window. She testified that when Schloegl pulled over and directed her to drive, she ran for help and called police.

         When the prosecutor ended S.O.'s direct examination, the district court asked Schloegl if he had any questions for her:

District Court: No questions?
Schloegl: What do you mean questions?
District Court: Do you have any questions that you wanted to ask?
Schloegl: For the person on the stand?
District Court: Yes.
Schloegl: But I have no contact order, so no.
District Court: That's fine. You can step down then, ...

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