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1. MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL 2. ALLOWING THE STATE TO REOPEN AFTER A MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL - MN Bench Book - Trial Procedures & Practices for Judges
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1. MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL 2. ALLOWING THE STATE TO REOPEN AFTER A MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL

From MN Bench Book - Trial Procedures & Practices for Judges

1. THE COURT SHALL ORDER A JUDGEMENT OF ACQUITTAL, UPON MOTION OF THE DEFENDANT OR ITS OWN MOTION, IF THE EVIDENCE IS INSUFFICIENT TO SUSTAIN A CONVICTION
Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.03, subd. 17

The standard for granting a judgment of acquittal is whether, viewing the evidence presented by the prosecution, a jury would have a reasonable doubt as to one of more elements of the offense.[1]

2. ALLOWING THE STATE TO REOPEN AFTER A MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL IS MADE

IT IS WITHIN THE DISTRICT COURT‘S DISCRETION TO ALLOW THE STATE TO REOPEN ITS CASE AFTER A MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL IS MADE.[2] THE STATE CAN ONLY REOPEN IF THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO SO IS REQUESTED AND GRANTED BEFORE THE TRIAL COURT RULES ON THE MOTION. ONCE THE MOTION IS GRANTED, DOUBLE JEOPARDY HAS ATTACHED AND THE STATE IS PRECLUDED FROM REOPENING. WHEN SUCH MOTION IS MADE, IT IS PROPER FOR THE TRIAL JUDGE TO ASK THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY WHERE PROOF BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT IS LACKING.

  1. A court “shall order the entry of a judgment of acquittal of one or more offenses charged in the tab charge, indictment, or complaint if the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction of such offense or offenses.”[3]
  2. A motion for judgment of acquittal is made by the defense at the end of the state’s case after the state has rested.
  3. A motion for acquittal is procedurally equivalent to a motion for a directed verdict.
  4. The test for granting a motion for a directed verdict is whether the evidence is sufficient to present a fact question for the jury’s determination, after viewing the evidence and all resulting inferences in favor of the state.[4]
  5. A motion for acquittal should be granted only where the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the government, is such that a reasonably minded jury must have a reasonable doubt as to the existence of any of the essential elements of the crime charged.[5]
  6. If the defendant’s motion is made at the close of the evidence offered by the prosecution, the court may not reserve decision of the motion.[6]
  7. The prohibition against reserving ruling on a motion to acquit is important.[7] Given the presumption of innocence and the state’s burden to prove the offense, a defendant has no obligation to present any evidence and should not be put at risk of providing evidence that fills gaps in the state’s case.[8]
  8. The sufficiency of the evidence standard does not contemplate that the court will determine the weight and credibility of the evidence but instead requires the court to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the state.[9]
  9. It is within the district court‘s discretion to allow the state to reopen its case after a motion for judgment of acquittal is made.[10]
  10. When motion for judgment of acquittal is made, it is proper for the trial judge to ask the defense attorney where proof beyond a reasonable doubt is lacking.
  11. The state can only reopen, after a motion for judgment of acquittal is made, if the request to do so is made before the trial court rules on the motion. Once the motion is granted, double jeopardy has attached and the state is precluded from reopening.




References:

  1. United States vs. Ming Sen Shiue, 508 Fed. Supp. 455 (D. Minn. 1980); State v. Daniels, 361 N.W.2d 819, 831 (Minn. 1985).
  2. Daniels, 361 N.W.2d at 831.
  3. Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.03, subd. 17(1).
  4. Paradise v. City of Minneapolis, 297 N.W.2d 152, 155 (Minn. 1980).
  5. United States v. Richards, 967 F.2d 1189, 1196 (8th Cir. 1992).
  6. Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.03, subd. 17(2)
  7. State v. Slaughter, 691 N.W.2d 70 (Minn. 2005).
  8. Id.
  9. Id.
  10. Ming Sen Shiue, 508 Fed. Supp. 455; Daniels, 361 N.W.2d at 831.