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Mark Rath appealed orders denying his demands for a change of judge, an order denying his motion for an order to show cause, and an order modifying his child support obligation. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding Rath did not meet the statutory requirements for a change of judge, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion for an order to show cause, and the court did not err in modifying the child support obligation. View "Rath v. Rath" on Justia Law

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The clearly erroneous standard of review does not permit a reweighing of evidence or reassessment of credibility. Richard Colling appeals a district court judgment awarding Adrienne Behrens primary residential responsibility of their child, R.W.B.C. He argued the district court's findings relating to best interests factors (j), (d), and (f) were clearly erroneous. He also argued the district court judge had a duty to disclose his involvement in an earlier case in which Behrens was a party. Concluding the record supported the district court's findings, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Interest of R.W.B.C." on Justia Law

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A party is barred from bringing an action for the recovery or possession of real property, unless the party was seized or possessed of the property within twenty years before bringing the action. The plaintiffs appealed an amended judgment entered after the district court granted summary judgment dismissing their claims against the defendants, seeking to determine title to real property. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in concluding the plaintiffs' action was time-barred under N.D.C.C. 28-01-04. View "Hageness v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Not all communications between law enforcement and citizens implicate the Fourth Amendment: an officer running to get ahead of a person, without any threatening or coercive conduct, does not constitute a show of authority escalating a casual encounter into a seizure; the presence of two officers, in and of itself, does not constitute a show of authority escalating a casual encounter into a seizure. Kevin Reilly appealed a criminal judgment entered after conditionally pleading guilty to having actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Grand Forks Police Corporal Robert Buelow and Officer Daniel Essig received a call from dispatch of a possible drunk driver. The officers located the vehicle, parked with its headlights on, at the apartment building of the vehicle's registered owner. Buelow attempted to get his attention by saying, "Excuse me, sir," but Reilly kept walking towards the apartment door. Buelow ran ahead of Reilly to meet him on the sidewalk. Buelow did not know whether Reilly was intentionally ignoring him. Buelow took the license, and after identifying Reilly brought him to the squad car for field sobriety tests. Reilly was charged with having actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Reilly reserved the right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence and dismiss his case. Reilly argues the district court erred in denying his motion by ruling the stop was a casual encounter and did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "City of Grand Forks v. Reilly" on Justia Law

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A Department of Transportation decision suspending or revoking driving privileges may be appealed to the district court by serving the director and filing a notice of appeal with specifications of error in the district court within seven days after the date of the hearing as shown by the date of the hearing officer's decision. Fritz Opp appealed and the Department of Transportation cross-appealed judgments affirming the Department's decisions revoking Opp's driving privileges for 180 days and reciprocally disqualifying him from operating a commercial motor vehicle for one year. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear Opp's untimely appeals of the Department's decisions, and reversed and remanded for the district court to enter judgments dismissing Opp's appeals to the district court. View "Opp v. N.D. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law

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A district court's contempt decision will only be disturbed on appeal if the court abused its discretion. A denial of a motion for reconsideration will not be reversed on appeal absent a manifest abuse of discretion. Mark and Kayla Rath were divorced in January 2013. The divorce judgment awarded Kayla primary residential responsibility of the couple's two minor children, with Mark receiving supervised parenting time. Mark appealed orders denying his motions for recusal, for an order to show cause, and for reconsideration, and from orders denying his demands for change of judge in child support modification proceedings. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded he waived his issues on appeal regarding recusal and the orders denying his demands for change of judge were interlocutory and not appealable. The Court further concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion seeking to hold Kayla in contempt and motion to reconsider. View "Rath v. Rath" on Justia Law

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Ulises Barrios-Flores appeals from a judgment affirming a Department of Transportation decision revoking his driving privileges for two years for refusing to submit to an onsite screening test of his breath. Under N.D.C.C. 39-20-05(3), the limited scope of an administrative hearing for refusing to submit to an onsite screening test requires a determination of: (1) whether the law enforcement officer had reason to believe the person committed a moving traffic violation or was involved in an accident as a driver; (2) whether in conjunction with the violation or accident, the officer has, through the officer’s observations, formulated an opinion that the person’s body contains alcohol; and (3) whether the person refused to submit to the onsite screening test. Here, the hearing officer found the law enforcement officer observed a vehicle driven by Barrios-Flores was speeding and initiated a traffic stop, Barrios-Flores had bloodshot watery eyes, and he admitted he had a couple of beers. Evidence in the record supported the hearing officer’s findings, and a reasoning person could conclude the hearing officer’s findings were supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Those findings provided the law enforcement officer with a reasonable suspicion Barrios-Flores was driving while impaired to request an onsite screening test of Barrios-Flores’ breath and he refused the test. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Department’s decision revoking Barrios-Flores’ driving privilege was in accordance with the law and did not violate his constitutional rights. View "Barrios-Flores v. Levi" on Justia Law

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Only a person having an interest in, or claiming an interest in, real property may challenge a court's rulings in a quiet title action. William Everett and 14 others appealed a judgment quieting title to certain McKenzie County mineral interests in Craig and Barbara Sorenson. In 2010, the Sorensons sued the Everett defendants and others to quiet title to certain mineral interests, claiming they had succeeded to ownership of those interests because the interests were abandoned under the Termination of Mineral Interest Act. In 2012, the Sorensons commenced another quiet title action against the same defendants claiming entitlement to the same minerals because those interests were abandoned under N.D.C.C. ch. 38-18.1.  2016, the Everett defendants filed a N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion in the 2010 case to vacate the stipulated judgments because the judgments were based on the "mistaken belief" that they "did not own a portion of the mineral interests at issue." In 2016, the district court in the 2012 litigation granted the Sorensons' cross-motion for summary judgment and quieted title in favor of them against the Everett defendants. The court ruled the Everett defendants' lack of counsel when they entered into the stipulations disclaiming any interests they may have had in the minerals was "not grounds for invalidating the valid and binding Judgments." A month later, the court entered an order in the 2010 case denying the Everett defendants' N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion to vacate the stipulated judgments because the motion was untimely and the Everett defendants' "mistaken belief they had no interest in the minerals at issue is not a sufficient reason for disturbing final judgment." The court denied the Everett defendants' motion for reconsideration of the judgment in the 2012 litigation, and the Everett defendants appealed that judgment. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed because collateral estoppel barred the Everett defendants' arguments in this case. View "Sorenson v. Bakken Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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Christian Hall appealed a criminal judgment entered after he conditionally pleaded guilty following the district court's denial of his motion to suppress and motion to dismiss for violation of Hall's right to a speedy trial. Hall was arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver after a search of his backpack revealed the presence of Oxycodone pills packaged in baggies. A four-factor balancing test is used to evaluate the validity of a speedy trial claim: length of the delay, reason for the delay, proper assertion of the right, and actual prejudice to the accused. A sniff by a drug detection dog is not a Fourth Amendment search. A brief detention of luggage for purposes of conducting a dog sniff is a limited intrusion that requires only reasonable suspicion. Whether an officer had a reasonable and articulable suspicion is a fact-specific inquiry that is evaluated under an objective standard considering the totality of the circumstances. Whether probable cause exists to issue a search warrant is a question of law, and on appeal, the sufficiency of information before the magistrate is reviewed based on the totality of the circumstances. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded after review of the facts of this case that the district court did not err when it denied Hall's motion to dismiss for violation of Hall's speedy trial rights. The Court also concluded the district court did not err when it denied Hall's motion to suppress evidence. View "North Dakota v. Hall" on Justia Law

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Section 39-20-01, N.D.C.C., requires law enforcement officers to convey the implied-consent advisory in an objectively reasonable way calculated to be comprehensible to the driver. Miguel Ayala appealed a judgment entered on his conditional plea of guilty to driving under the influence. He reserved his right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress his blood test result, arguing that law enforcement failed to "inform" him as required under the implied-consent law. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "North Dakota v. Ayala" on Justia Law