State v. Rick, Amicus Brief, Minnesota Supreme Court, American Civil Liberties Union, The Center for HIV Law and Policy, Lambda Legal, OutFront Minnesota (2013)

Pleadings and Briefs

The American Civil Liberties Union, The Center for HIV Law and Policy, Lambda Legal, and OutFront Minnesota filed this amicus brief in support of the defendant, Daniel Rick, whose felony conviction under Minnesota's knowing-transfer-of-communicable-disease statute was overturned by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in September 2012. The state appealed, and the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Rick, an HIV positive man, had repeated unprotected receptive and insertive anal sex in May 2009 with D.B., who subsequently tested positive for HIV. Although D.B. claimed that Rick never disclosed he is HIV positive, Rick testified that he did in fact disclose his status and believed that D.B. likely also was positive due to D.B.'s prior unprotected sex with other HIV positive individuals. Rick was convicted under subsection 2 of Minnesota Statute Sec. 609.2241, which prohibits the "transfer of bodily fluids" of those with HIV and other contagious diseases, and another section of the law prohibiting sexual penetration without prior disclosure of one's disease status.

In their brief to the Minnesota Supreme Court, amici raise three constitutional challenges to subsection 2 of Minnesota Statute Sec. 609.2241. First, they argue that the statute is unconstitutionally vague because "transfer of . . . sperm" fails to put a reasonable person on notice that the statute applies to consensual sexual activity involving ejaculation where one partner has disclosed his HIV status to another. Second, they argue that the statute violates the constitutional right to make intimate and personal decisions related to sex and procreation. Lastly, amici argue that the statute violates the Equal Protection Clause on the basis of sex because the district court's interpretation of the statute punishes men, and not women, for essentially the same conduct.