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Ronald Rogers, Jr., appealed a judgment denying his application for post-conviction relief and orders denying his post-hearing motions to amend the findings of fact and for a new trial. Rogers conditionally pled guilty to murdering his wife and to willful disturbance of a dead body, reserving the right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress his confession to police based on a lack of Miranda warnings and involuntariness. Looking at the totality of the facts, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded Rogers' confession was voluntary. Because the district court did not err in ruling that Rogers received effective assistance of trial counsel or abuse its discretion in denying the post-hearing motions, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment denying the request for post-conviction relief. View "Rogers v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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Hess Corporation ("Hess") appealed the grant of summary judgment which held Sundance Oil and Gas, LLC ("Sundance") held the superior leasehold mineral interest in a property located in Mountrail County. Sundance and Hess both moved for summary judgment, each arguing they had a superior claim to the mineral interests. The district court determined the trust action was res judicata and granted partial summary judgment in favor of Sundance, quieting title to the leasehold interest. Although the district court entered an order for partial summary judgment, the parties stipulated to the remaining issues related to revenues and expenses, and the district court later entered a final judgment. On appeal, Hess argued: (1) the district court erred in applying res judicata to determine Sundance was a good-faith purchaser for value; (2) the district court erred in granting summary judgment in Sundance's favor because genuine disputes of material fact existed; and (3) the district court erred by concluding Sundance could obtain a superior lease for the same property without providing Hess actual notice of the trust action proceedings. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court determined the district court improperly applied res judicata and failed to consider the factual issues raised by Hess: a district court may not use the findings in an unlocatable mineral owner trust action as res judicata in a subsequent quiet title action to resolve all factual disputes regarding whether a later purchaser was a good-faith purchaser for value. The judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Sundance Oil and Gas, LLC v. Hess Corporation" on Justia Law

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Traill Rural Water District ("TRWD") appealed a judgment that granted damages for overdue rent to Daniel and Marlene Motter ("the Motters"). In 2006 Melba Motter, through her estate's conservator Alerus Financial, leased approximately forty acres of land in rural Steele County to TRWD at $250 per acre for ninety-nine years. Attorneys for both Melba's estate and TRWD negotiated the leases. In January 2011 Daniel Motter, grandson of Melba, and Daniel's wife Marlene acquired title to the land, including the leases. Daniel received offers from TRWD to renegotiate the leases during the period from 2006 to 2011, when he farmed the land but did not own it. Daniel reviewed the TRWD leases in 2014 and claimed back rent of $10,000 per year for the full forty acres from 2011 through 2014. TRWD offered $4,500 compared to Motter's initial calculation of $31,300. The district court acknowledged the mathematical error and adjusted to $51,500 for the five years from 2011 to 2015. The parties' different interpretations led to this lawsuit. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in denying reformation of two leases on the Motters' land and did not abuse its discretion in granting a new trial. View "Motter v. Traill Rural Water District" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Department of Human Services appealed a district court judgment reversing the Department's order deciding Altru Specialty Services, doing business as Yorhom Medical Essentials, received overpayments for medical equipment supplied to Medicaid recipients and ordering recoupment. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not have jurisdiction and the appeal should have been dismissed because Yorhom failed to satisfy statutory requirements for perfecting an appeal. View "Altru Specialty Services, Inc. v. N.D. Dep't of Human Services" on Justia Law

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Anjelo Sheperd appealed his conviction entered after a bench trial on stipulated facts, finding him guilty of patronizing a minor for commercial sexual activity. Law enforcement arrested Sheperd as a part of a multi-agency sting operation targeted at apprehending individuals paying, or attempting to pay, for sex with minors. Law enforcement posted an advertisement on Backpage.com. The advertisement impliedly sought sexual encounters with men, but did not reference involvement with a minor. Sheperd responded to the advertisement. A text message exchange between Sheperd and an undercover officer, purporting to be a female, discussed rates for sexual activities. Later in the text message exchange, the undercover officer told Sheperd "she" was almost seventeen. Sheperd arrived at the sting location, set up at a hotel in Fargo, and was arrested and charged. On appeal, Sheperd argued N.D.C.C. 12.1-41-06(1)(a) required the presence of a minor and because no actual minor was involved in this case, the State did not meet its burden of proof. Sheperd further argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should have decided North Dakota v. Davison, 900 N.W.2d 66, differently. The Supreme Court found that under the plain language of N.D.C.C. 12.1-41-06(1)(a), an individual could be convicted of an offense if the agreement was made with someone other than a minor. "This construction interprets the statute in a practical manner, giving consideration to the context of the statute and the purpose for which it was enacted. This construction also targets those who intentionally seek out children as their sexual objects, as provided in the comments to Section 7 of the Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws." The Court was not persuaded that "Davidson" should have been decided differently. View "North Dakota v. Sheperd" on Justia Law

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Danny Myers appealed a district court order denying his motion to correct his sentence under N.D.R.Crim.P. 35(a)(2). Myers sought to retroactively apply 2015 legislative amendments, which removed class C felony aggravated assault from the statutory provision requiring a person to serve eighty-five percent of a sentence of incarceration. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion under N.D.R.Crim.P. 35(a)(2) because his sentence did not contain an arithmetical, technical, or other clear error to correct. View "North Dakota v. Myers" on Justia Law

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Phillip Martinson appealed a district court judgment affirming an agency decision to suspend his driver's license for 180 days for being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a class C felony. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined a fact-finder could reasonably conclude the driveway at issue, although private, was an area "to which the public has a right of access for vehicular use." Accordingly, the Court affirmed. View "Martinson v. N.D. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Barry Garcia appealed a district court order summarily dismissing his application for post-conviction relief. A juvenile petition was filed alleging Garcia had committed murder, attempted robbery, aggravated assault, and criminal street gang crime. At the State's request, the court transferred Garcia to adult court for trial. At trial, the district court dismissed the robbery and criminal street gang charges. The jury found Garcia guilty of murder, a class AA felony, and aggravated assault, a class C felony. After a sentencing hearing, the district court sentenced Garcia to life imprisonment without parole on the murder conviction, and to a concurrent five years' imprisonment on the aggravated assault conviction. Garcia appealed, arguing his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court's 1996 sentencing of Garcia to life imprisonment without parole did not violate the Eighth Amendment. The Court affirmed the district court's order summarily dismissing Garcia's application for post-conviction relief. View "Garcia v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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Karen Corum appealed the grant of summary judgments in two collection actions brought by American Express Centurion Bank. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court's summary judgments were proper as a matter of law and the district court did not err by denying Corum's request to allow her husband to be her spokesperson in court. A party who is not represented by a licensed attorney cannot be represented by another person, including their spouse, in any court of record in this state, absent authorization provided by state law or supreme court rule. The right of free speech does not encompass in-court advocacy by a non-lawyer on behalf of another person, including a spouse. View "American Express Centurion Bank v. Corum" on Justia Law

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United Fire & Casualty Company appealed a district court judgment awarding Carol Forsman $249,554.30 in her garnishment action against United Fire, commenced after she settled claims in the underlying suit against Blues, Brews and Bar-B-Ques, Inc., d.b.a. Muddy Rivers. Muddy Rivers was a bar in Grand Forks that was insured by United Fire under a commercial general liability ("CGL") policy. In 2010, Forsman sued Muddy Rivers and Amanda Espinoza seeking damages for injuries to her leg allegedly sustained while a guest at a February 2010 private party at Muddy Rivers. Muddy Rivers notified United Fire of the suit and requested coverage. United Fire denied defense and indemnification based on the policy's exclusions for assault and battery and liquor liability. However, after appeals and reconsideration, the court ruled in Forsman's favor, finding the settlement amount was reasonable. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court erred in granting summary judgment because material fact issues existed on whether exclusions for "assault and battery" and "liquor liability" in the CGL policy excluded coverage of Forsman's negligence claim against Muddy Rivers. Furthermore, the Court concluded further conclude the court properly granted summary judgment to Forsman holding United Fire had a duty to defend Muddy Rivers under the CGL policy in the underlying suit. Therefore, the Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Forsman v. Blues, Brews & Bar-B-Ques Inc." on Justia Law