Case Blog: Expungement - win?

Case Blog: Expungement - win?

This is one of those situations where the actual ruling sounds fantastic, but the order smacks you in the face.  Luckily, (I think) the hidden slap to the face is limited to a foot note.  We are still waiting to see if the Supreme Court will actually rule on an inherent authority petition, but the first foot note on page 4 doesn't give us much hope.

A11-0660        State of Minnesota, Respondent, vs. R.H.B., Appellant.
Court of Appeals.
1.   A petitioner for expungement who establishes that all pending actions or proceedings have been resolved in his or her favor is entitled to a rebuttable presumption of expungement under Minn. Stat. § 609A.03, subd. 5(b) (2010).
2.   The district court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that the State failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the public’s interest in keeping the records unsealed outweighed the disadvantages to the petitioner of not sealing the records.
Reversed.  Justice G. Barry Anderson.
Took no part, Justice Wilhelmina Wright.

Also, just to add a little positive, here is my favorite "SCt Smackdown":

Section 609A.03, subdivision 2, requires an expungement  petitioner to state, among other things, “why expungement is sought . . . and why it should be granted.” Minn. Stat. § 609A.03, subd. 2(a)(4).  In the view of the State and the court of appeals, this provision requires a petitioner to identify specific disadvantages that he or she will suffer if the court denies the petition.  But that reading of subdivision 2(a)(4) adds a requirement that is not present in the statute’s plain language.  In this context, “why” means simply “for what purpose” or “reason.”  See The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 1979 (5th ed. 2011) (defining “why” as “[f]or what purpose, reason, or cause; with what intention, justification, or motive”);  Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged 2612 (2002) (defining “why” as “for what cause, reason, or purpose:  on what account: to what end”).  Hence, in our view, R.H.B.’s petition satisfies subdivision 2(a)(4) by stating that a jury found him not guilty of all pending charges and that granting his petition  is in the “interests of justice.”

By: Landon J. Ascheman, Esq.
(B) 612.217.0077 (C) 651.280.9533

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