MN Supreme Court Upholds International Falls Gun Conviction

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

State of Minnesota v. Tommy Salyers, III. MN criminal law

In September 2012, officers from the Koochiching County Sheriff's Office obtained a search warrant to search the home of Tommy Salyers, III, for stolen property. During the search, they encountered a locked gun safe in a bedroom, which was "built like a file cabinet." The officers pried it open and found three firearms. Salyers was subsequently convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove that he possessed the guns.

The Minnesota high court held that constructive possession had been proven by the guns' location in a place under the defendant's exclusive control, which it defined as a "place to which other people do not normally have access." The court noted that the safe was in a bedroom in Salyer's house, and that nobody else lived in the house. For that reason, the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction.

No. A13-0597 (Minn. Jan. 14, 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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