In an unpublished opinion filed May 9 of this year, the Minnesota Court of Appeals changed its prior opinion on State vs. Mohomoud, where it upheld the district court’s decision to sentence the defendant for first-degree DWI, second-degree test refusal and driving after cancellation offenses and rejected the defendant’s argument that the admission of his conversations with his attorneys was a plain error.
The defendant’s argument concerns a partially redacted DVD recording of the reading of the implied consent advisory to the defendant and his telephone calls to his two attorneys where he admitted that he had prior DWI convictions. Note that during the hearing, Mohomoud put forward his stipulation that his prior DWI convictions and references to it be kept away from the jury.
Despite the stipulation, however, the DVD recording was shown in its entirety, except for the portion where the dispatcher referred to the defendant’s prior DWI convictions. The prosecution explained that beyond cuing the recording to play after the dispatcher’s mention of the prior DWI convictions, there’s no other way to edit the recording to filter out the defendant’s own references to his DWI convictions which still aired in front of the jury. Following the conviction for for first-degree DWI, second-degree test refusal and driving after cancellation, an appeal was submitted to the Court of Appeals by the defendant for a review on account of the plain error of the admission of the recording calls with his attorneys.
After losing at the Court of Appeals, the defendant elevated the issue to Supreme Court, which decided to remand the case to the Appeals Court, suggesting that it should reconsider whether Mohomoud indeed waive his right to claim error in the admission of a recording which contained his own references to his prior DWI convictions, with consideration given to the invited-error doctrine.
After another review, the Appeals Court determined that the defense did not “invite” the error of allowing the inclusion of the references to prior DWI convictions, but merely forgo with the objection due to the technicality that there’s really no other way to remove them from the recording. This choice by the defendant was made explicit and went on record, which separates it from the usual failure to object scenario.
Because of this, the Court recognizes that as far as the DWI count is concerned, “even assuming the defense “invited” the admission of the mostly unredacted DVD, admission of that evidence was plain error…therefore the invited-error doctrine does not apply as to that count.”
Further, following the plain error doctrine, the district court’s ruling violated the defendant’s “substantial rights” – in this case, failing to honor the defendant’s right to stipulate the exclusion of the portions of the DVD recording prejudicial against his case. Again, as far as the DWI count is concerned, the Court concludes that “that there is a reasonable likelihood that the error had a significant effect on the verdict, and, therefore, that it affected Mohomoud’s substantial rights.”
This case should be of great interest to any Minnesota DUI Lawyer and those charged with DWI offenses, because it highlights the possibility of reversing convictions on valid rights violations arguments. In this case, it was a violation of his right to stipulate against what he deem as potentially prejudicial elements of evidence, which the Court of Appeals upheld by ordering the district court’ resentencing for the DWI count.
Charged with a Minnesota DWI? Call the Attorneys at Kans Law Firm, LLC at (952) 835-6314 for a free case review.