Justia North Dakota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

by
In May 2021, the State filed a complaint charging Madison Dearinger with hindering law enforcement, a class C felony, and false information to law enforcement, a misdemeanor. Under the felony count, the State alleged Dearinger provided false information to a law enforcement officer before and after her father, Adam Dearinger, committed burglary. At the preliminary hearing, Dearinger moved to dismiss the felony charge of hindering law enforcement arguing she did not commit a felony because she did not know Adam Dearinger committed burglary at the time she lied to law enforcement. The district court found Dearinger knew of conduct constituting assault and violation of a protection order, but did not analyze whether she knew of conduct constituting burglary. The court determined the State failed to provide evidence for the felony enhancement and dismissed the hindering law enforcement charge. The State argued the evidence presented was sufficient to support a finding of probable cause for the felony charge of hindering law enforcement under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-08-03. To this the North Dakota Supreme Court agreed and reversed the trial court’s judgment. View "North Dakota v. Dearinger" on Justia Law

by
Ephrium Thomas appealed after a jury found him guilty of robbery and terrorizing a child victim. Thomas argued the district court erred in admitting evidence of a statement made by him to law enforcement. After review of the trial court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in admitting evidence of the statement. View "North Dakota v. Thomas" on Justia Law

by
Robert Pulkrabek was convicted by jury in April 2017 on terrorizing and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced in November 2021. Pulkrabek argued a variety of events before and during the trial were structural errors in violation of the constitutional requirement for a public trial. The North Dakota Supreme Court concurred, finding that "Because 'one structural error is sufficient to require reversal,' resolution of the remaining issues raised on appeal are unnecessary to our decision." The judgment of conviction was reversed and the case was remanded to the district court for a new trial. View "North Dakota v. Pulkrabek" on Justia Law

by
A.L. appealed an order terminating his parental rights over A.C. A.L. argued the juvenile court erred in finding the Cass County Human Services Zone engaged in active efforts to prevent the breakup of an Indian family as required under the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”). A.L. also argued the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that continued custody of A.C. by A.L. would likely result in serious harm to A.C. The North Dakota Supreme Court retained jurisdiction and remanded for further factual findings on the ICWA requirements and North Dakota law as codified by N.D.C.C. 27-20.3-19. View "Interest of A.C." on Justia Law

by
Christine Larson, doing business as Active Nutrition, appealed a judgment entered after the district court ordered Larson’s appeal be dismissed and denied her request for a writ of mandamus. In a notice of decision dated January 27, 2021, Workforce Safety & Insurance (“WSI”) informed Larson that it had determined Active Nutrition is an employer subject to N.D.C.C. tit. 65, the Workforce Safety and Insurance Act, and that Active Nutrition was required to submit all earned wages for all employees for the previous four years and pay premiums, assessments, penalties, and interest accrued. The notice of decision also advised Larson that she could appeal the decision by “[s]ubmit[ting] a written request to WSI within 30 days to have the decision reconsidered[.]” On February 25, 2021, Larson mailed a written request for reconsideration to WSI. WSI received the request on March 1, 2021. On March 10, 2021, WSI sent Larson notice it received her request for reconsideration but the request was not timely. The notice also informed Larson that WSI’s decision dated January 27, 2021 was final. On May 27, 2021, Larson sent WSI a second request for reconsideration. Larson argued her first request for reconsideration was timely because WSI’s notice of decision was served by regular mail and therefore three additional days should be added to the time computation under N.D.R.Civ.P. 6(e). On June 8, 2021, WSI informed Larson it had received her second request, the request was not timely, and the decision was final. To the North Dakota Supreme Court, Larson argued her request for reconsideration was timely. Alternatively, she requested a writ of mandamus determining her request was timely and to direct WSI to review the merits of her request. The Supreme Court concluded Larson did not appeal from an appealable order and the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying her request for a writ of mandamus. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed. View "Larson v. WSI" on Justia Law

by
Blue Appaloosa, Inc., appealed a judgment affirming an Industrial Commission order determining it violated N.D. Admin. Code ch. 43-02-03 by beginning construction of a treating plant prior to obtaining a permit or filing a bond with the Commission. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Blue Appaloosa v. NDIC" on Justia Law

by
Megan Christopher appealed a disorderly conduct restraining order entered against her, arguing the district court abused its discretion in issuing the order because reasonable grounds did not exist to believe she engaged in disorderly conduct, and her conduct was constitutionally protected. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Lehnerz, et al. v. Christopher" on Justia Law

by
The State appealed an order granting Corey Wickham’s postconviction relief application. Wickham was found guilty of two counts of gross sexual imposition. Wickham filed an application for postconviction relief, arguing that his conviction was obtained in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to object to a State witness’s comment on Wickham’s invocation of his right to counsel. Because the district judge who presided over Wickham’s trial had retired, an evidentiary hearing on his postconviction application was held in front of a different judge. Testimony was heard from Wickham’s trial counsel at the hearing. The court found that Wickham satisfied the “Strickland” test and granted Wickham’s application for relief. The State argued the district court did not properly apply the Strickland test and its findings regarding ineffective assistance of counsel were clearly erroneous. The North Dakota Supreme Court found that because the court failed to consider the list of non-exclusive factors outlined in North Dakota v. Wilder (2018 ND 93) in determining the prejudicial effect of trial counsel’s error, the Supreme Court concluded that the postconviction court erred in its application of the law under prong two of the Strickland test. The order granting relief was reversed. View "Wickham v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

by
S.P.L. appealed a judgment denying his petition to terminate M.T.’s parental rights and adopt K.M.T. He argued the district court erred in denying his request to terminate M.T.’s parental rights and failing to consider whether M.T.’s consent was required for an adoption proceeding. While the North Dakota Supreme Court did not find the district court’s findings were clearly erroneous, the district court erred in failing to make findings regarding whether M.T.’s consent was required in the adoption proceeding. Judgment was affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "In the Matter of the Adoption of K.M.T." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
by
Dr. Jacob Schmitz appealed a district court judgment affirming the final order of the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners (“Board”) imposing discipline against him. He also appealed an order entered after a limited remand denying his motion for post-judgment relief under N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Dr. Schmitz was a chiropractor licensed to practice in North Dakota. He owned and practiced at Freedom Chiropractic Health Center in Fargo, North Dakota. In March 2019 the Board issued an administrative complaint against Dr. Schmitz, alleging he failed to maintain the chiropractic standard of care for patient and clinical billing records in violation of N.D. Admin. Code 17-03-01-01(3), that Dr. Schmitz’s membership plans were in violation of N.D. Admin Code 17-03-01-05, and that Dr. Schmitz used Noridian Medicare Private Contract and Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN) forms to have patients opt out of Medicare in violation of N.D. Admin. Code 17-03-01-01(4). The Board requested the Office of Administrative Hearings (“OAH”) to appoint an ALJ to conduct an evidentiary hearing and issue recommended findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order. Both Dr. Schmitz and the Board moved for summary judgment. The ALJ held a telephonic hearing on the competing motions, issued a recommended order granting the Board’s summary judgment motion on each of the claims, and cancelled the previously scheduled evidentiary hearing. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Board’s final order, adopting an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) recommended order for summary judgment, erred in granting summary judgment on the Board’s claims against Dr. Schmitz. The judgment and the Board’s final order were reversed, and the matter remanded to the Board to conduct an evidentiary hearing and to supplement the administrative record. View "Schmitz v. State Board of Chiropractic Examiners" on Justia Law