State of Minnesota v. Pedro Ayala-Leyva

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: criminal law.

State of Minnesota v. Pedro Ayala-Leyva. MN criminal law

In this appeal from Hennepin County, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held:

1. When defense counsel offers no proposed jury instruction and leaves the wording of the instruction to the district court’s discretion, the court does not commit plain error when it refuses to instruct the jury that it must unanimously agree on which of many overt acts were committed in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit controlled substance crime.

2. A prosecutor commits misconduct when a subpoenaed defense witness is arrested prior to testifying at trial, in violation of Minn. Stat. 634.08, but that misconduct is not prejudicial when the witness is immediately released, defense counsel is given an opportunity to interview the witness and decides to not call him at trial, and the witness's testimony would not have resulted in a more favorable verdict.

3. A greater-than-double durational sentencing departure must be supported by severe aggravating factors, and factual findings to support those factors must be found by a sentencing jury absent waiver by a defendant of proceedings under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004).

No. A13-0401 (Minn. Ct. App. May 19, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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