Appeals court affirms Kandiyohi County DWI case against man who acted as own attorney

Defendant did not object to evidence that should not have been allowed at his trial, but Minnesota Court of Appeals finds case was strong overall, and the evidence did not have a significant effect on the jury’s verdict

Adam Vance Stevenson

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions in Kandiyohi County of a St. Paul man for driving while impaired, refusal to submit to a test, and driving after cancellation while acknowledging that some evidence should not have been presented at his trial.

Adam Vance Stevenson, 30, was convicted Oct. 4, 2018, in Kandiyohi County District Court following a trial in which he represented himself. As his own attorney, he did not object during the trial when evidence was submitted of his prior criminal convictions.

The prosecution conceded and the Court of Appeals agreed that "unredacted records of Stevenson's criminal conduct and unrelated driving violations was erroneously admitted and that the error was plain," according to the memorandum accompanying the court's decision.

The central issue for the court was whether the evidence had a significant effect on the jury’s verdict. The court considered the strength of the state’s case against Stevenson, and concluded it was “strong.” It also noted that Stevenson had an opportunity to respond to the evidence during the trial but did not do so.

Stevenson was arrested July 1, 2017, in Kandiyohi County after a sheriff’s deputy observed him speeding at 9:30 p.m. on County Road 10. A chase ensued for approximately 10 miles and exceeded speeds of 100 miles per hour.


When Stevenson stopped, he rolled his window down and told the deputy: “I reserve my Second Amendment rights.” The officer noted that his eyes were slightly bloodshot and watery, and the officer handcuffed Stevenson and took him into custody.

According to the complaint, Stevenson screamed and swore as he was transported to the jail and threatened to kill the person he believed had called the police.

He refused a breath test at the jail after calling his then-girlfriend — instead of an attorney — with his one allowed phone call. The District Court later denied a request by the defendant to subpoena jail witnesses to support his claim that he took and passed a preliminary breath test before he was released from jail.

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