On September 20, 2016, Mr. Defiel was indicted by a grand jury for 1st Degree Murder of his father. On February 23, 2017, after a 7-day trial and more than six hours of deliberation, the 12-person jury found Mr. Defiel not guilty of Murder in the 1st Degree.
After the acquittal of the 1st Degree Murder charge, a second phase of the trial commenced on whether Mr. Defiel was not guilty of 2nd Degree Murder by reason of mental illness or deficiency. On March 1, 2017, after more than six hours of deliberation, the same jury acquitted Mr. Defiel of the 2nd Degree Murder charge as well.
“This was one of the most difficult cases I have ever had to litigate. There were over 2,800 pages of evidence in this case, five experts, and dozens of witnesses. I cannot thank Ms. Burghart, Ms. Wolfe, and Ms. Sterzinger enough for all of their hard work and dedication. I could not have done it without them.”
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Attorney Christopher Cadem has filed a petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of D.M. challenging his conviction for second degree murder. D.M. was convicted of murder stemming from an incident in which the victim and his co-conspirators attempted to rob D.M. using counterfeit money. When D.M. discovered the money was counterfeit and attempted to get his property back, the victim assaulted D.M. with a firearm. A struggle over the firearm ensued and the victim was ultimately shot. On the way to the hospital, the victim separated the magazine from the firearm and threw both out the window of a vehicle. The victim subsequently died from the gunshot wound.
The jury convicted D.M. of murder in the second degree, which required the jury to find that the murder occurred while D.M. was committing the predicate crime of assault with the firearm. Paradoxically, however, the jury did not find that D.M. possessed the firearm.
The issues presented in the Petition to the Supreme Court are:
- Whether logically inconsistent verdicts require a heightened review of the record to determine whether the verdict is attributable to defects in the trial or jury instructions.
- Whether upholding a logically inconsistent verdict in these circumstances violates the 6th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
- Whether the District Court erred by failing to include any jury instruction on causation for second degree murder.
- Whether the District Court erred by failing to include an accomplice-corroboration jury instruction to assist the jury in evaluating the testimony of the victim’s co-conspirators.
- Whether the Court of Appeals erred by requiring D.M. to prove that prosecutorial misconduct violated his substantial rights during trial, rather than requiring the State to prove that its misconduct did not.
As summer comes to a close, family law attorneys and judges are inundated with issues surrounding school choice. Unfortunately, many of these disputes between parents are brought to the courts attention at the last minute leaving uncertainty for many families and school districts.
Parents who share joint legal custody must make major decisions regarding the children’s education together. Most disagreements arise when a parent has moved or a child is first entering kindergarten. If parents who share joint legal custody are unable to agree on school choice, the issue must be submitted to the court. Oftentimes, a parent who has sole physical custody prevails on these issues due to a preference for the child to go to school near their primary residence. However, there are many other important factors a court will consider in these decisions, such as: tuition, previous school choice, school rankings, extracurricular activities, the current parenting time schedule, the child’s preference, past academic performance, and the child’s relationship with the community.
K-12 school and district rankings are available online at https://k12.niche.com/rankings/. These rankings provide helpful information such as: reviews, graduation rates, student-teacher ratio, educational proficiency percentages, and student demographics.
If you are confronting school choice issues in your custody or divorce case, it is important you discuss the issue with an attorney as soon as possible.
Christopher J. Cadem was recognized at the Hyatt in Minneapolis on September 10th, 2015, by Minnesota Lawyer magazine as a 2015 Up & Coming Attorney.
Each year Minnesota Lawyer magazine recognizes a small group of new attorneys “off to a fast start in their legal career.” The Up & Coming Attorney recognition highlights those lawyers within their first 10 years of practice who have already distinguished themselves by their achievements.
Custody in Minnesota is distinguished by two distinct types: both legal custody and physical custody. It is important that the two are looked at and considered separately.
A parent having legal custody, means that they have the right to determine the child’s “upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training.” See Minn. Stat. 518.003. In dissolution and custody proceedings, one parent can be awarded sole legal custody or both parents can share what is called “joint legal custody.” When parents share joint legal custody, they both have equal rights and responsibilities to make important decisions in the child’s life regarding education, health care, and religious upbringing.
It goes without saying, that when joint legal custody is awarded, the parties will need to have the ability to work together to make these important decisions in their child’s life. If an impasse does occur, the parents must seek relief from the court.
The court presumes that joint legal custody is appropriate, unless it is determined that joint legal custody is not in the child’s best interests. The presumption of joint legal custody is rebutted if there has been domestic abuse between the parents. The court will consider the extent, context, and nature of the domestic abuse and the impact of that abuse on parenting and the child’s safety, well-being, and developmental needs.
Importantly, the law now recognizes that the parents’ disagreement alone about whether or not to share joint legal custody does not mean that the parents are unable to make agreements together regarding the child in the future.
The designation of either sole or joint legal custody should not be overlooked. Having authority on important decisions in your child’s life is essential to your ability to raise your child how you deem fit and can have important implications on their emotional, mental, and physical health.
Once an award of legal custody is granted, it is very difficult to modify it. The court will require an evidentiary hearing and consider a heightened level of factors for modification. It is important that you speak with an attorney before deciding this important legal question for you and your child.
On July 2, 2015, attorneys Cadem and Burghart filed an appeal in the case of In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of: M.P.J. and J.J. Issues raised on appeal include whether the District Court erred by placing the child in non-relative foster care despite the availability of many relatives to provide care, including the child’s father. Cadem and Burghart will argue that the District Court failed to make sufficient individualized findings supporting its order, that the County did not make reasonable efforts to prevent placement, and that out of home placement in non-relative foster care was not in the best interests of the child.
This is an important case in Minnesota. It is becoming more and more common for social service agencies to rely upon their financial partners for child placement and treatment needs. Such decisions should not be financially motivated. The law demands that children be placed with family members if possible and that the least restrictive means be used to assure a child’s safety. In this case, the child was placed with in non-relative foster care rather than his own non-custodial father or his grandparents, all of whom were qualified to provide care.
In August 2015, the alcohol content for a gross misdemeanor DWI will be lowered from .20 to .16. Attorney Christopher Cadem commented: “In my experience, this will dramatically affect a large number of the DWI cases I litigate. It is quite common for my clients to have an alcohol content over .16 but below a .20.” According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, almost 3 of every 5 first-time offenders will be affected by this new law.
This change harmonizes the criminal law with the implied consent license revocation statutes, which already punish more severely anyone with a .16 alcohol content. “I have been anticipating this change for years. Honestly, I expected it a long time ago,” said Cadem. The long-term impact of a DWI with an alcohol content of .16 or higher is dramatic. The maximum penalty for such individuals will increase from 90 days in jail to a full 1 year. Similarly, fines will rise from $1000 to $3000. It has been quite rare for someone with a first-time DWI to spend any time in jail for the offense. Now, jail will be more or less presumptive for anyone with an alcohol content of .16 or higher.
For more information: http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-stiffens-penalties-for-mid-level-dwis/307269911/
Attorney Christopher J. Cadem has been named a North Star Lawyer by the Minnesota State Bar Association. To be named a North Star Lawyer, an attorney must provide at least 50 hours of of pro bono (low or no-cost) legal services to low income people and/or non-profit organizations. Mr. Cadem continues to devote a considerable amount of his time and energy to assuring that all individuals, irrespective of income, receive dedicated and aggressive legal representation.
More information can be found at: http://www.mnbar.org/msba-home/msba-news/2015/06/04/north-star-lawyers—over-$21m-in-legal-services-donated#.VYiWqEbG9l1
Attorney Cadem has been selected for inclusion in Minnesota Lawyer Magazine’s prestigious Up & Coming Attorneys for 2015. “The Up & Coming Attorney recognition highlights those lawyers within their first 10 years of practice who have already distinguished themselves by their achievements. The criteria for selection include: professional accomplishment, leadership service to the community and the profession or achievement as in house counsel.”
More information can be found at: http://minnlawyer.com/2015/06/18/up-coming-attorneys-unsung-legal-heroes-named/
The office remodel for new attorney Carolyn Burghart is now complete. Ms. Burghart focuses her practice on family law matters including child custody, divorce, child support, domestic abuse, post-decree issues, and child protection. She offers free initial consultations. Feel free to stop by to see the new office space and/or to meet Carolyn.