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Supreme Court Reviews State v. Trahan

Not surprisingly, the Minnesota Supreme Court granted review of State v. Trahan last week. Even though the supreme court chooses to decide only an incredibly small fraction of cases, it was practically a lock they would decide to review Trahan. The supreme court likely granted review for three main reasons: (1) the decision by the court of appeals was by a slim two-to-one margin; (2) the potential impact of finding such a frequently used statute unconstitutional is too great to not review it; and (3) the court finds it necessary to continue reviewing major constitutional issues in the DWI arena triggered by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Missouri v. McNeely.

We recently blogged about the court of appeals’ decision to find Minnesota’s DWI refusal law unconstitutional here; and the potential impact of the decision here. As we discussed in those posts, the Trahan decision was likely to set off a widespread challenge of DWI refusal cases, especially those involving refusals of blood and urine tests. As we wait for the Minnesota Supreme Court to review Trahan, the challenges will continue to mount.

Prosecutors and assistant attorney generals are likely to tout the supreme court’s decision to grant review as a move to overturn the court of appeals. If the supreme court agreed with the court of appeals’ decision, why bother to review it, right? They may be right. The supreme court did previously reverse and remand Trahan back to the court of appeals after the supreme court decided Bernard.

But the supreme court also reviewed Brooks and Bernard, and affirmed each case, albeit on different grounds. Therefore, it may just be that the supreme court wants to pick apart the court of appeals’ analysis in Trahan. Or, it just feels that the weight and significance of the case is too great to let it rest at the court of appeals. For now, we will wait, likely a year or longer, for a decision.

Robert H. Ambrose is a DWI and criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis. The prestigious National College of DUI Defense recently invited and accepted him into its organization. For a free consultation, please contact Ambrose Law Firm, PLLC at 612-547-3199 or email: ambroselegal@icloud.com

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