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State of North Dakota v. Charles Blunt

June 28, 2011

STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA,
PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE
v.
CHARLES BLUNT, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT



Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Bruce A. Romanick, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandstrom, Justice.

N.D. Supreme CourtState v. Blunt, 2011 ND 127

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents

AFFIRMED.

Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.

State v. BluntNo. 20100308

[¶1] Charles Blunt appeals from a district court order denying his motion for a new trial. Blunt argues the court erred in denying his motion for a new trial, because the State violated discovery rules. Although we conclude the State likely violated the discovery rules, a careful review of the entire record reflects that the information contained in the apparently undisclosed documents was contained in other documents provided to Blunt. Concluding that Blunt has not established he was prejudiced by the apparent discovery violations, we affirm.

I

[¶2] Blunt was the Executive Director of Workforce Safety and Insurance ("WSI") from 2004 to 2007. The State Auditor's Office conducted a performance review of WSI in 2006, and the Auditor's report questioned the use of public funds at WSI. As a result of the Auditor's report, Blunt was charged with two counts of misapplication of entrusted property in violation of N.D.C.C. § 12.1-23-07(1).

[¶3] Count I charged Blunt with a class B felony for misapplying more than $10,000 in WSI funds for gift certificates given to WSI employees; food, beverages, flowers, balloons, decorations, costume rentals, ornaments, and gifts for WSI meetings; food and convention expenses provided to legislators; payment of sick leave; and failure to recoup relocation expenses from a WSI executive. See N.D.C.C. § 12.1-23-07(2)(a) (misapplication of entrusted property exceeding $10,000). Count I included a claim that WSI had a legal obligation to attempt to recoup $7,500 in relocation expenses from Dave Spencer, a WSI executive. Spencer was sent a letter when he was offered a position at WSI informing him WSI would reimburse his relocation expenses, but he would have to pay back a portion of the expenses if he voluntarily resigned within the first two years. Spencer was reimbursed for over $15,000 in relocation expenses when he began his employment with WSI. He resigned less then two years after his employment began. The State claimed WSI had a legal obligation to recover half of the relocation expenses because Spencer resigned within the first two years of his employment and Blunt failed to recoup the expenses. Count II charged Blunt with a class C felony for misapplying more than $500 in WSI funds for illegal bonuses paid to three high-ranking WSI executives. See N.D.C.C. § 12.1-23-07(2)(b) (misapplication of entrusted property exceeding $500 but less than $10,000).

[¶4] A jury trial was held and the jury found Blunt guilty on Count I and not guilty on Count II. The court entered an order deferring imposition of sentence. Blunt appealed the order, and this Court affirmed. See State v. Blunt, 2010 ND 144, 785 N.W.2d 909.

[¶5] Shortly after the appeal, the State filed a "Motion in Litis Contestatio"*fn1 requesting the district court decide whether the State committed discovery violations under N.D.R.Crim.P. 16 or violated due process under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), based on allegations Blunt made after the trial. Blunt responded to the State's motion and moved for a new trial or for Count I to be dismissed. Blunt did not dispute the State's claim that it did not violate Brady, but claimed the State violated N.D.R.Crim.P. 16 by failing to disclose documents that contained information about the Spencer relocation expenses. Blunt claimed the State failed to provide a memorandum about Spencer's resignation and the relocation expenses written by Jason Wahl, who is a performance auditor with the State Auditor's Office and was a witness at the trial; a report from Bureau of Criminal Investigations' Special Agent Mike Quinn, which included a report from an interview of Wahl; and a copy of a "C99" document prepared by the State Auditor's Office for the audit of WSI with handwritten notes about Spencer's resignation and the relocation expenses.

[¶6] The district court denied Blunt's motion for a new trial. The court ruled there was no Brady or N.D.R.Crim.P. 16 violation and Blunt did not suffer substantial prejudice warranting a dismissal or a new trial if there was a discovery violation. Blunt appealed.

[¶7] The district court had jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, and N.D.C.C. § 27-05-06. The appeal was timely under N.D.R.App.P. 4(b). This Court has jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. ...


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