Fagin v. State, A17-1705 Minnesota Supreme Court Oral Arguments

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On March 22, 2012, respondent Jason Fagin was arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired. The deputies brought Fagin to the sheriff’s department and read him the implied-consent advisory. A deputy asked Fagin to submit to a blood or a urine test. Fagin refused.

Appellant State of Minnesota charged Fagin with, among other offenses, first‑degree test refusal. In July 2012, Fagin pleaded guilty to the test-refusal charge. After he was convicted, Fagin did not pursue a direct appeal.

In May 2017, Fagin filed a petition for postconviction relief, arguing that the rule announced in Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. __, 136 S. Ct. 2160 (2016), and applied in State v Trahan, 886 N.W.2d 216 (Minn. 2016), and State v. Thompson, 886 N.W.2d 224 (Minn. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S. Ct. 1338 (2017) (the “Birchfield rule”) applied retroactively to his test-refusal conviction. Fagin argued that under the Birchfield rule, the test-refusal statute was unconstitutional as applied to him because he refused a warrantless blood and urine test, and the deputies did not demonstrate that exigent circumstances existed.

The district court summarily denied the postconviction petition. The court of appeals reversed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) which party bears the burden of proof with respect to exigent circumstances when a defendant challenges a final test-refusal conviction based on the retroactive application of the Birchfield rule; and (2) whether the district court properly denied Fagin’s postconviction petition without a hearing because Fagin did not allege sufficient facts to demonstrate that police could not compel him to submit to a blood or urine test. (Washington County)

On March 22, 2012, respondent Jason Fagin was arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired. The deputies brought Fagin to the sheriff’s department and read him the implied-consent advisory. A deputy asked Fagin to submit to a blood or a urine test. Fagin refused.

Appellant State of Minnesota charged Fagin with, among other offenses, first‑degree test refusal. In July 2012, Fagin pleaded guilty to the test-refusal charge. After he was convicted, Fagin did not pursue a direct appeal.

In May 2017, Fagin filed a petition for postconviction relief, arguing that the rule announced in Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. __, 136 S. Ct. 2160 (2016), and applied in State v Trahan, 886 N.W.2d 216 (Minn. 2016), and State v. Thompson, 886 N.W.2d 224 (Minn. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S. Ct. 1338 (2017) (the “Birchfield rule”) applied retroactively to his test-refusal conviction. Fagin argued that under the Birchfield rule, the test-refusal statute was unconstitutional as applied to him because he refused a warrantless blood and urine test, and the deputies did not demonstrate that exigent circumstances existed.

The district court summarily denied the postconviction petition. The court of appeals reversed.

On appeal to the supreme court, the following issues are presented: (1) which party bears the burden of proof with respect to exigent circumstances when a defendant challenges a final test-refusal conviction based on the retroactive application of the Birchfield rule; and (2) whether the district court properly denied Fagin’s postconviction petition without a hearing because Fagin did not allege sufficient facts to demonstrate that police could not compel him to submit to a blood or urine test. (Washington County)

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