Group denied fast track to Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court denied a petition last week from a group challenging Red Wing's rental inspection code that had requested their appeal be fast-tracked to the state's high court.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
The Supreme Court denied a petition last week from a group challenging Red Wing's rental inspection code that had requested their appeal be fast-tracked to the state's high court.
The group of local landlords and tenants had petitioned for "accelerated review," a measure that would've allowed their appeal of a recent district court judgment to bypass the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
"We're disappointed because we do think this case merits accelerated review," said Jason Adkins, attorney for the Institute for Justice, the law firm representing the landlords and tenants.
Adkins said his clients will now pursue a typical appeal. He believes the case will end up before the Supreme Court anyway. The appeal process is under way and there could be a hearing before an appellate court later this year.
"We weren't surprised at all by the Supreme Court's decision," Red Wing's attorney John Baker said.
Baker said the Institute for Justice needed to show there was an immediate need for the high court to hear the case, but didn't.
"They never even tried to show that," Baker said.
Adkins said the city's repeated legal efforts to inspect his client's properties make the case urgent.
Two outside groups -- the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and the St. Paul Association of Responsible Landlords -- also supported the petition.
The Institute for Justice is appealing two parts of a ruling First District Judge Robert King handed down in December.
The appeal argues, contrary to King's ruling, the landlords and tenants have the legal "standing" needed to challenge the city's rental inspection code directly as unconstitutional in court.
King said they lacked standing because the city has yet to inspect their property and thus hasn't harmed them.
The ruling also denied a warrant request made by Red Wing that would've allowed city building officials to inspect the rental property of uncooperative landlords and tenants.
King said the city's rental inspection code allows inspections to go too far and doesn't do enough to protect tenant privacy.
The second part of the Institute for Justice appeal argues administrative search warrants -- the kind Red Wing sought -- can only be used with individualized probable cause under the Minnesota law.
King said that would be a new interpretation of the state Constitution, one that would have to be made by the Supreme Court.
The group of landlords and tenants has been challenging the city's rental inspection code since 2006. City officials say the code is needed to ensure rental properties are up to code and safe, but the code's challengers say it undermines Fourth Amendment privacy rights.