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Fagin v. State

Supreme Court of Minnesota

October 2, 2019

Jason Maurice Fagin, Respondent,
v.
State of Minnesota, Appellant.

          Court of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Amy Lawler, Assistant Public Defender, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondent.

          Keith Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Peter Orput, Washington County Attorney, Nicholas Hydukovich, Assistant Washington County Attorney, Stillwater, Minnesota, for appellant.

         SYLLABUS

         1. On a petition for postconviction relief under Minn. Stat. ch. 590 (2018) asserting the invalidity of a test-refusal conviction under Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S.__, 136 S.Ct. 2160 (2016), and Johnson v. State, 916 N.W.2d 674 (Minn. 2018), the petitioner bears the burden to allege and prove there was neither a warrant nor an applicable exception to the warrant requirement.

         2. In a Birchfield/Johnson postconviction proceeding, a heightened pleading standard applies. Under this standard: (a) the petitioner must affirmatively allege that no search warrant was issued and that no warrant exception was applicable; and (b) if the State wishes to controvert those allegations, it must plead specifically the existence of the warrant or exception relied on and the grounds therefor in sufficient detail to give the petitioner adequate notice of the State's position.

          OPINION

          LILLEHAUG, Justice.

         This case requires that we decide whether, on a petition for postconviction relief under Minn. Stat. ch. 590 (2018) asserting the invalidity of a test-refusal conviction under Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S.__, 136 S.Ct. 2160 (2016), and Johnson v. State, 916 N.W.2d 674 (Minn. 2018), the petitioner bears the burden to allege and prove that no applicable exception to the warrant requirement applies. Johnson made retroactive the rule announced in Birchfield that, in the absence of a warrant or an exception to the warrant requirement, refusal to submit to a blood or urine test cannot be criminalized. The district court denied respondent Jason Fagin's request for postconviction relief because he failed to prove there was no applicable exception to the warrant requirement. Concluding that the district court erred by placing the burden of proof on Fagin instead of the State, the court of appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Because the district court properly placed the burden of proof on Fagin, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals. We also announce a heightened pleading standard for Birchfield/Johnson postconviction proceedings. We remand to the district court to allow supplemental pleadings under this standard and reconsideration of Fagin's request for postconviction relief.

         FACTS

         Around 2:00 a.m. on March 22, 2012, the Washington County Sheriff's Department received a report of a car stopped across two lanes of traffic on a rural road. When deputies arrived, they found two unconscious men. The deputy who walked up to the driver's side of the car noticed that the driver's left shoe was off, his left sock was pulled down, and his left foot was placed over his right knee. The deputy immediately suspected that the driver had injected himself with a narcotic and become unconscious.

         The deputies woke up the men. As he awakened, the driver sped away. The car stopped about 30 seconds later. The deputies ordered the men out of the car and took them into custody. A pat search of the driver, later identified as respondent Jason Fagin, produced a plastic bag that the deputies believed contained methamphetamine. They described Fagin as "extremely impaired." In the car, the deputies found several needles, syringes, spoons, and other items often used with narcotics.

         Fagin was booked into the Washington County Jail. A deputy read Fagin the implied-consent advisory, and asked him whether he understood. Fagin did. The deputy asked Fagin whether he would like to speak with an attorney. Fagin declined. The deputy asked if he would take a urine test. Fagin declined. Fagin also declined a blood test. Fagin later told deputies that he would take a urine test, but then changed his mind. Then he again declined a blood test. There is no evidence in the record that deputies sought a warrant or offered Fagin a breath test.

         The Washington County Attorney charged Fagin with first-degree test-refusal, [1]Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 2 (2010), and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, Minn. Stat. § 152.025, subd. 2(b)(1) (2010). On July 30, 2012, by plea agreement, Fagin pleaded guilty to the test-refusal charge and the possession charge was dismissed. The district court sentenced him to 65 months in prison and imposed a five-year term of conditional release. Fagin did not appeal.

         On July 29, 2014, Fagin filed a timely postconviction petition in which he argued that Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. 141 (2013), had rendered Minnesota's test-refusal statute unconstitutional, and sought to withdraw his guilty plea. Fagin's petition was denied ...


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