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Minn. High Court upholds overturned conviction of HIV-positive man

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The Minnesota Supreme Court sided with a Minneapolis man who is HIV positive and accused of illegally passing the virus to another man.

According to a court opinion filed Wednesday, the state's High Court affirmed the appellate court's decision to reverse an attempted first-degree assault conviction of Daniel James Rick, 32, because of the ambiguity of the law.

Two subdivisions of the law applied to this case. In 2011, a Hennepin County jury found Rick not guilty of the first subdivision, which involves sexual penetration without first informing the other person about a communicable disease.

However, the jury found Rick guilty of the second subdivision, which criminalizes the "transfer of blood, sperm, organs, or tissue, except as deemed necessary for medical research or if disclosed on donor screening forms.”

The Minnesota Court of Appeals said the second subdivision suggests transfers for medical reasons, not sexual activity, and overturned Rick's conviction.

The judges concluded that the provision is subject to more than one reasonable interpretation and it's up to state lawmakers to change the wording.

The opinion said, "it is the Legislature’s prerogative to reexamine the communicable-disease statute and amend it accordingly."

Gay rights groups said the state’s interpretation of the statute violated the rights of HIV-positive adults to engage in consensual sex even if they have told their partners about the disease, the Associated Press reported.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman tells the Star Tribune that his office will proceed with other pending cases against Rick while encouraging the Legislature to clarify the law.

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