of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts
Hocevar, Scott County Attorney, Todd P. Zettler, First
Assistant County Attorney, Shakopee, Minnesota, for
Charles A. Ramsay, Daniel J. Koewler, Ramsay Law Firm,
P.L.L.C., Roseville, Minnesota, for respondents.
Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota Edwin W.
Stockmeyer, Assistant Attorney General, Saint Paul,
Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota Attorney General.
Mahesha P. Subbaraman, Subbaraman PLLC, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, for amicus curiae Americans for Forfeiture Reform.
N. Cavanaugh, Anthony B. Sanders, Lee U. McGrath,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Institute for
Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976), applies to
evaluate claims of procedural due process violations when the
urgency of a prompt post-seizure hearing is the paramount
statute that governs vehicle forfeiture for driving while
impaired, Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 9(d) (2018), is
not constitutionally invalid on its face because the statute
provides sufficient procedural due process in some cases. The
vehicle forfeiture statute as applied afforded procedural due
process to the non-owner driver of the vehicle. The vehicle
forfeiture statute as applied deprived the purportedly
innocent owner of the vehicle of due process.
proper remedy is the return of the vehicle to the purportedly
in part, reversed in part.
case, we address the constitutionality of a provision of
Minnesota's vehicle forfeiture statute found in Minn.
Stat. § 169A.63 (2018). Specifically, we are asked to
determine whether Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd.
9(d)-which sets forth the procedural requirements for
judicial hearings related to vehicle forfeiture for a
driving-while-impaired (DWI) offense-violates procedural due
process rights guaranteed to respondents Helen and Megan
Olson under both the United States Constitution and the
Minnesota Constitution. The Olsons argue that the statute is
unconstitutional on its face and as applied to them. The
district court determined the statute is unconstitutional on
its face. The court of appeals held that the statute is
unconstitutional as applied to the Olsons. We conclude that
the statute is constitutional on its face. We further
conclude that the statute is constitutional as applied to
Megan Olson, who did not own the vehicle, but is
unconstitutional as applied to Helen Olson, a purportedly
innocent owner. We therefore affirm in part and reverse in
Olson was arrested by the Shakopee Police Department for
driving while impaired on August 16, 2015. Megan had three
prior DWI convictions within the past 10 years. Generally,
under Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 1(1) (2018), an
individual who drives while impaired with three prior DWI
incidents in the last decade may be charged with and
convicted of a first-degree DWI offense.
first-degree DWI offense is a "designated offense"
under the DWI vehicle forfeiture statute, Minn. Stat. §
169A.63, subd. 1(e), which meant that the vehicle Megan was
driving at the time she was arrested-a 1999 Lexus-was subject
to forfeiture, see id., subds. 2, 6(a).
Consequently, Shakopee Police seized the vehicle incident to
Megan's lawful arrest. Megan received notice of the
seizure and intent to forfeit at the time of her arrest. Her
mother, Helen Olson (the sole registered owner of the
vehicle), received notice of the seizure and intent to
forfeit shortly after the arrest. See id., subd.
8(b) (requiring the seizing agency to provide the driver and
any persons known to have an ownership, possessory, or
security interest in the vehicle with "notice of the
seizure and intent to forfeit the vehicle").
vehicle forfeiture statute, Minn. Stat. § 169A.63,
states that when a driver in Minnesota is arrested on
suspicion of committing a designated offense, the arresting
agency may seize the vehicle used to commit the offense.
See id., subds. 2, 6(a). As soon as the seizure
occurs, all "right, title, and interest in a vehicle
subject to forfeiture . . . vests in" the seizing
agency. Id., subd. 3. Independent actions for
replevin are prohibited. Id. The seizure results in
administrative forfeiture without a judicial hearing,
id., subd. 8(a), unless a person with an interest in
the vehicle contests the forfeiture by filing a demand for
judicial determination of the forfeiture-a civil lawsuit
against the vehicle-in the county in which the vehicle was
seized, see id., subd. 8(e)-(f).
demand for a judicial determination of the forfeiture is
filed, subdivision 8(g) provides that the ensuing proceedings
are governed by Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 9. The
statute mandates that the hearing for the "judicial
determination . . . must be held at the earliest practicable
date, and in any event no later than 180 days following the
filing of the demand by the claimant." Id.,
subd. 9(d). But this deadline is subject to a consequential
exception: the hearing "shall not be held until the
conclusion of the criminal proceedings" underlying the
seizure. Id. In other words, the DWI forfeiture
statute bars any judicial hearing on the seizure or
forfeiture of a vehicle until the criminal proceedings
against the driver have concluded.
a seizure of a vehicle necessarily deprives the owner of the
vehicle of her private property, the DWI forfeiture statute
contains three provisions intended to alleviate potential
hardship. First, subdivision 4 allows an owner to "give
security or post bond payable to the [seizing] agency in an
amount equal to the retail value of the seized vehicle"
in exchange for having the vehicle returned. Id.,
subd. 4. Notably, however, "the seized vehicle may be
returned to the owner only if a disabling device is
attached to the vehicle." Id. (emphasis added).
subdivision 5a provides that any time before entry of a court
order disposing of the forfeiture action, "any person
who has an interest in forfeited property may file with the
prosecuting authority a petition for remission or mitigation
of the forfeiture." Id., subd. 5a. The
prosecutor alone has complete discretion to grant or deny the
request. Id. To grant the petition, the prosecutor
must find that the forfeiture was incurred without an intent
to violate the law, without willful negligence, or that some
other "extenuating circumstances" justify remission
or mitigation. Id. But even if the prosecutor
determines that one of those circumstances exists, the
prosecutor may still deny the request. No provision allows
for judicial review of the prosecutor's decision on a
petition for remission or mitigation.
subdivision 7(d) provides a so-called "innocent
owner" defense. See Laase v. 2007 Chevrolet
Tahoe, 776 N.W.2d 431, 433 (Minn. 2009). A vehicle can
be recovered if a petitioning owner can "demonstrate by
clear and convincing evidence that the petitioning owner did
not have actual or constructive knowledge that the vehicle
would be used or operated in any manner contrary to law or
that the petitioning owner took reasonable steps to prevent
use of the vehicle by the offender." Minn. Stat. §
169A.63, subd. 7(d). This defense has one key qualification:
"If the offender is a family or household member of any
of the owners who petition the court and has three or more
prior impaired driving convictions, the petitioning owner is
presumed to know of any vehicle use by the offender
that is contrary to law." Id. (emphasis added).
An innocent owner may only obtain judicial review of her
defense by filing a demand for judicial determination.
See id., subd. 8(f)-(g). But that demand can only be
heard after the underlying criminal proceedings are
completed. Id., subd. 9(d). The DWI forfeiture
statute contains no exception allowing an innocent owner to
demand a hearing on her claim before resolution of the
underlying criminal proceedings.
October 7, 2015, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 169A.63,
subd. 9(d), Megan and Helen Olson filed a timely joint demand
for judicial determination of the forfeiture. They raised
several defenses and claimed that the statute itself was
unconstitutional for, among other things, violating their due
process rights. Helen also asserted an innocent-owner
the filing of the Olsons' petition, a hearing date was
set for February 11, 2016. However, due to the forfeiture
statute's requirement that any hearing be stayed until
the conclusion of the criminal proceedings that caused the
forfeiture, see id., the hearing was continued
several times. On October 12, 2016, just over one year after
the Olsons' demand for judicial determination, Megan
pleaded guilty to first-degree DWI. She was adjudicated
guilty on February 13, 2017. Two days after Megan pleaded
guilty, the Olsons moved for summary judgment on the
forfeiture matter, arguing that the forfeiture statute
violated due process by, among other things, failing to
provide prompt review of the seizure itself. The forfeiture
hearing was then scheduled for, and occurred on, February 23,
2017. By the time the Olsons received a hearing on the
forfeiture of the Lexus, just over 18 months had passed since
the vehicle had been seized. Throughout this entire period,
the Olsons did not seek to recover the vehicle under the
forfeiture statute's remission or mitigation provisions,
nor did they post a bond for the vehicle. Additionally, Helen
never requested an expedited hearing on her innocent-owner
the hearing on their motion, the district court granted
summary judgment to the Olsons and held that the forfeiture
statute violated their procedural due process rights. The
court ordered the return of the Lexus to the Olsons, but
stayed judgment pending appeal. The court of appeals affirmed the
district court, concluding that Minn. Stat. § 169A.63,
subd. 9(d), was constitutional on its face but
unconstitutional as applied to each Olson. Olson v. One
1999 Lexus, 910 N.W.2d 72, 77, 80 (Minn.App. 2018). In
concluding that the statute is facially constitutional, the
court of appeals noted that procedural due process
"could be satisfied if the related criminal
matter" in a given case "was resolved promptly and
a review hearing of the vehicle's seizure . . . was
timely held." Id. at 77 (emphasis added). As
applied to the Olsons, however, the court of appeals found
that the statute was unconstitutional because "the
Olsons' forfeiture action was tied to the resolution of
Megan's related criminal and implied-consent
actions," such that "no hearing was held on the
validity of the initial or continued seizure of the Lexus for
over 18 months." Id. at 79. The court concluded
that an 18-month wait "unconstitutionally denied the
Olsons prompt review of the prehearing seizure of the
Lexus." Id. We granted the State's
request for review.
case presents three issues. First, we must determine what
constitutional standard applies in evaluating the Olsons'
procedural due process claims. Second, we must determine
whether Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 9(d), violates
procedural due process requirements on its face. Finally, if
we conclude that the statute is constitutional on its face,
we must determine whether Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd.
9(d), violates procedural due process requirements as applied
to Megan and Helen Olson's unique individual
circumstances. We review questions of whether procedural due
process has been violated de novo. Gams v. Houghton,
884 N.W.2d 611, 618 (Minn. 2016). When faced with a claim
that a statute is unconstitutional, we "presume statutes
are constitutional and will exercise our 'power to
declare a statute unconstitutional with extreme caution and
only when absolutely necessary.'" State v.
Rey, 905 N.W.2d 490, 493 (Minn. 2018) (quoting State
v. Craig, 826 N.W.2d 789, 791 (Minn. 2013)).
the United States and Minnesota Constitutions provide that
the government shall not deprive a person of life, liberty,
or property without due process of law. U.S. Const. amend.
XIV, § 1; Minn. Const. art. I, § 7. At its core,
due process requires that the procedures used by the
government before depriving an individual of his or her
"protected life, liberty, or property interest"
must "provide [that] individual with notice and an
opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a
meaningful way." Sawh v. City of Lino Lakes,
823 N.W.2d 627');">823 N.W.2d 627, 632 (Minn. 2012) (citation omitted) (internal
quotation marks omitted). This legal process is required to
"minimize the risk of erroneous decisions,"
Mackey v. Montrym, 443 U.S. 1, 13 (1979), and
"to protect against arbitrary deprivation of
property," Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. 67, 81
(1972). "[W]hen a person has an opportunity to speak up
in his own defense, and when the State must listen to what he
has to say, substantively unfair and simply mistaken
deprivations of property interests can be prevented."
Id. Further, "due process, unlike some legal
rules, is not a technical conception with a fixed content
unrelated to time, place and circumstances." Mathews
v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 334 (1976) (citation omitted)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (alteration omitted).
Rather, constitutional due process requirements are
"flexible and call for such procedural protections as
the particular situation demands." Id.
preliminary issue that we must address is whether we should
use the test set forth in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S.
514, 530 (1972), or the framework set forth in
Mathews, 424 U.S. at 335, to analyze and resolve the
procedural due process claims raised in this case.
was a Sixth Amendment case that considered whether the right
to a speedy trial had been violated by prosecutorial delay.
See 407 U.S. at 515-16. The Barker Court
identified four factors to be balanced in making that
determination: "[l]ength of delay, the reason for the
delay, the defendant's assertion of his right, and
prejudice to the defendant." Id. at 530. In
United States v. Eight Thousand Eight Hundred & Fifty
Dollars ($8, 850) in U.S. Currency, 461 U.S. 555, 564
(1983), the Supreme Court applied the Barker factors
when assessing procedural due process violations in a
identified a different set of factors to balance when
assessing procedural due process challenges:
First, the private interest that will be affected by the
official action; second, the risk of an erroneous deprivation
of such interest through the procedures used, and the
probable value, if any, of additional or substitute
procedural safeguards; and finally, the Government's
interest, including the function involved and the fiscal and
administrative burdens that the additional or substitute
procedural requirement would entail.
424 U.S. at 335 (citing Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S.
254, 263-71 (1970)). Further, when considering the nature of
the private interest, we weigh "(1) the duration of the
[deprivation of property]; (2) the availability of hardship
relief; and (3) the availability of prompt post-revocation
review." Heddan v. Dirkswager, 336 N.W.2d 54,
60 (Minn. 1983) (citing Montrym, 443 U.S. at 11-12).
The parties dispute which test-the Barker factors or
the Mathews framework-should apply.
decide whether the Barker factors or the
Mathews framework applies, we must first identify
the central question in this case. Because the Olsons do not
assert that a pre-seizure hearing is required, we are left
with the sole question of whether the 18-month delay between
the seizure of the Lexus and the first hearing on the
Olsons' demand for judicial determination-a delay driven
by the mandate in Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 9(d),
that no judicial hearing on the demand for judicial
determination occur until after the related criminal
proceedings are concluded-violates due process. As the
Supreme Court has acknowledged, "there is no obvious
bright line dictating when a post-seizure hearing must
occur," $8, 850, 461 U.S. at 562, but
"there is a point at which an unjustified delay in
completing a post-deprivation hearing would become a
constitutional violation," Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp.
v. Mallen, 486 U.S. 230, 242 (1988) (citation omitted)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The question of delay
raises two related due process inquiries.
first inquiry is to determine the urgency of the need for a
prompt post-seizure judicial review of the substantive legal
basis for the State's seizure of the vehicle. The
Mathews framework is well suited to answering this
question. The Mathews line of cases instructs us
that the urgency of a prompt post-deprivation
hearing is greater when the private interest is strong and
the pre-deprivation procedures are relatively unreliable
measures of whether the seizure is justified. Barry v.
Barchi, 443 U.S. 55, 66 (1979); see also Fedziuk v.
Comm'r of Pub. Safety, 696 N.W.2d 340');">696 N.W.2d 340, 342, 346-48
(Minn. 2005) (holding that when a statute fails to provide
any requirement of a prompt post-deprivation
hearing, the Mathews factors direct that a
pre-hearing seizure of property is unconstitutional on its
determine whether a greater or lesser urgency exists, we must
assess whether the particular 18-month delay here was
excessive in light of the level of urgency. The
Barker factors provide a useful focus when we
consider whether the particular delay in question is too
long: In light of the relative urgency, did the State act
diligently and articulate good reasons for any delay? Did
those deprived of their property attempt to avoid the delay
by asserting their available rights? Were those deprived of
their property "hampered . . . in presenting a defense
on the merits, through, for example, the loss of witnesses or
other important evidence[?]" $8, 850, 461 U.S.
parties dispute the answer to the first inquiry. Accordingly,
that inquiry-the urgency of prompt post-seizure review-is
paramount here and so we conclude that the Mathews