A U.S. District Court magistrate judge Monday, Oct. 22, recommended that all complaints against a Minnesota State Trooper and two Medina Police Officers be “dismissed with prejudice” in the case of Karl Hanson of Medina, who is suing the three for false arrest.
But this report and recommendations from U.S. Magistrate Judge Tony Leung does not mean Hanson’s case has concluded. Hanson and his attorney Nathan Hansen have until Monday, Nov. 5, to file objections to Judge Leung’s recommendations.
Hanson is running against two other candidates for mayor of Medina in the Nov. 6 General Election. Although he filed his suit in District Court in September 2010, his case is coming to a head right before the General Election.
Hanson’s attorney was asked whether he and his client were planning to object to Judge Leung’s report, stating, “We disagree with the report and recommendations. We are looking at the situation and considering our options.”
District Court Judge John R. Tunheim would look at any objections to Judge Leung’s report and recommendations that might be filed in the Hanson case. If Judge Tunheim were to agree with the objections, Hanson’s false arrest suit still might go to trial.
According to attorney Hansen, he and his client Hanson are suing Medina Police Officers Charmane Domino and Jeremiah Jessen as well as Chris Erickson of the Minnesota State Patrol. However, Judge Leung’s report says that Hansen and Hanson did not follow the procedure required by the court to make this clear and that the two plaintiffs do not have a case for suing the city of Medina. Exactly who is being sued might be an issue raised in any objections filed by Hansen and Hanson by the Nov. 5 deadline.
The Oct. 22 report and recommendations from the magistrate judge happened after attorneys for Domino, Jessen and Erickson asked the court to issue a summary judgment ruling in their case. A summary judgment ruling would mean that their case would not go to trial and be dismissed. The magistrate judge’s recommendations and report were that the case be “dismissed with prejudice.” This is legalese for dismissing a case permanently. It can’t be brought back to court.
Karl Hanson’s legal process began at 8:20 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2009, a night that proved to be a long one for him. It ended with his release from Hennepin County Jail at 3:42 a.m. the following morning. He left County Jail without a ride home and still needed to retrieve his car from impoundment.
Earlier that day, Hanson was practicing slalom water skiing with a friend, according to his pleadings in the request for summary judgment. He was headed home to pick up a wheel and tire for his friend’s boat trailer. At 8:20 p.m., Officer Domino stopped him for driving 62 miles per hour in an 40 miles per hour zone. During the traffic stop, she observed Hanson and his behavior and wondered whether he might be driving under the influence of a substance.
She asked for assistance from Officer Jessen, who arrived and asked Hanson to get out of his car and take field sobriety tests. According to court pleadings from Jessen and Domino, Hanson was initially uncooperative about getting out of his car and taking the sobriety tests. Eventually, he emerged from his car and took the tests. During the process, the officers did not smell alcohol on his breath, but they concluded that he might be under the influence of a controlled substance.
Officers Jessen and Domino called the Minnesota State Patrol and asked for a drug recognition expert to evaluate Hanson’s condition. They transported him to the Medina Police Station, where they met State Trooper Erickson. His opinion was that Hanson was under the influence of both a central nervous depressant and stimulant. A Breathalyzer test at the police station was negative for alcohol.
Medina Police transported Hanson to Methodist Hospital for extraction of a blood sample that was sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing. Test findings were negative for substances that were the subjects of the BCA tests. As a result, Medina Police did not charge Hanson for DUI. They did charge him with speeding.
Pleadings in the summary judgment request from both sides of the case reveal some of the issues. Hanson and his attorney mention remarks police made about him that he considered to be negative. The police officers and their attorneys talk about Hanson being uncooperative and observations that led them to process him as a DUI. Also, an expert witness for the police officers said that the BCA does not test for many substances when analyzing blood samples — including cough and cold medicines and Ritalin.
Hanson and his attorney cite the negative results of the BCA drug tests as support for their false arrest suit. Attorney Hansen also stated in pleadings opposing the summary judgment that his client was processed as a DUI because of “disrespect of cop.” He used as supportive evidence videos that were entered into court records.
When Magistrate Judge Leung made his recommendation that the false arrest suit be dismissed with prejudice, he said, “Probable cause is determined at the time of arrest, not from facts that are learned after the arrest takes place… Even if Officer Jessen was mistaken that Plaintiff was impaired while operating his vehicle, which is the crux of Plaintiff’s argument, this would not mean that Officer Jessen violated Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him.”
So Hanson’s case against Officers Domino and Jessen and State Trooper Erickson either will not go to trial, or it will.