This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).






State of Minnesota,





Clifford Lindholm,



Filed April 16, 2002

Klaphake, Judge


Faribault County District Court

File No. K50012


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, James B. Early, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN  55103; and


Brian Roverud, Faribault County Attorney, P.O. Box 5, Blue Earth, MN  56013 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Jodie L. Carlson, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Ave. S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Clifford James Lindholm pleaded guilty to two counts of incest for conduct involving his mentally impaired adult daughter.  Minn. Stat. § 609.365 (2000).  Prior to sentencing, appellant made an oral motion to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming that he did not know why he admitted to the offenses and that the “pills” he was taking affected his ability to think clearly and understand the plea.  The district court denied his motion, noting that in questioning appellant during the plea hearing, appellant specifically acknowledged that he was thinking clearly and that he understood the plea process.  Because the record does not support appellant’s claim that he did not understand his plea and because appellant failed to prove that it would be just and fair to allow him to withdraw his plea, we affirm.


            An appellate court may reverse the district court’s denial of a motion to withdraw a guilty plea before sentencing only in a “rare case in which the appellate court can fairly conclude that the [district] court abused its discretion.”  Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989).  A court may permit a defendant to withdraw a plea before sentencing “if it is fair and just to do so,” taking into consideration whether granting the motion would prejudice the prosecution.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 2.  A defendant bears the burden of proving that the reasons for withdrawing a plea are fair and just.  Kim, 434 N.W.2d at 266.

            Appellant first argues that he should be allowed to withdraw his plea because his medications affected his ability to understand.  It is unclear whether he claims that his plea was affected by the medications he was taking in the summer of 1999, when he committed the offenses, or by the medications he was supposed to be taking at the time he entered his plea in November 2000.  He merely criticizes the district court for failing to inquire further regarding his use of medication and his understanding of the plea process.

            At the plea hearing, the district court specifically questioned appellant regarding his medications, as follows:

Q         And are you taking some medicines to help you think clearly?


A         I ran out.  I am supposed to go back there today and get some.


Q         That’s previcid (sp)?


            [Appellant’s attorney]:    Previcid (sp) is the medicine for his stomach.


A         Right.  There is another one that I take too.




Q         That’s to help you think clearly?


A         Yes.


Q         Are you thinking clearly today?


A         Yes.


Q         Do you understand the proceeding that we are going through here today?


A         Yes.


These and appellant’s other responses satisfied the district court that appellant understood the plea process and was entering an intelligent plea.  The court subsequently ordered a rule 20 evaluation that confirmed appellant had the ability and capacity to understand and participate in his defense.  See Minn. R. Crim P. 20.01, 20.02.  Finally, in support of his oral motion to withdraw, appellant failed to offer any additional evidence regarding his medications.  Appellant thus has failed to establish that his medications affected his ability to understand his plea, so as to now allow him to withdraw that plea.

            Appellant next argues that his low IQ and inability to read made his guilty plea unintelligent.[1]  At the plea hearing, however, appellant’s attorney indicated that he had read the plea petition to appellant and that appellant had understood its contents.  The district court also asked appellant questions regarding his petition.  Again, the rule 20 evaluation concluded that appellant had the ability to understand, despite his low IQ, as long as his attorney carefully explained to him “the various legal issues in a simplistic manner.”  Because this appears to have happened, appellant’s low intellectual functioning does not now provide him with a fair and just reason to withdraw his plea.

            Finally, appellant criticizes the form of the questions posed by the prosecutor and the district court at the plea hearing, citing State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 717 (Minn. 1994) (when establishing a factual basis for guilty plea, defendant “should be encouraged to state in his or her own words why he or she is willing to plead guilty”).  The questions asked during the plea hearing that encouraged a one-word response from appellant, however, tended to address appellant’s waiver of rights, not the factual basis for his plea, which was adequately established later in the plea hearing in appellant’s own words.  See Minn. R. Crim P. 15.01 (listing questions to ask during plea hearing that address particular rights).  Appellant did not automatically respond “yes” to each question, and he answered “no” when appropriate, thus showing that he understood the questions.  In addition, the mere fact that a question calls for a one-word response does not render it inappropriately leading, as long as the question does not direct or require a particular response.  Cf. State v. Loebach, 310 N.W.2d 58, 65 (Minn. 1981) (questions that are not argumentative and do not suggest answer to witness are not improper cross examination).  A reading of the transcript of the plea hearing establishes that the questions were not so overly leading as to now allow appellant to withdraw his plea.

            Because the district court was in the best position to evaluate a defendant’s claims and determine whether he understood the plea process, and because this court gives due deference to the district court’s assessments of a defendant’s credibility, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea.  See State v. Aviles-Alvare, 561 N.W.2d 523, 527 (Minn. App. 1997), review denied (Minn. June 11, 1997); State v. Lopez, 379 N.W.2d 633, 638 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Feb. 14, 1986).


[1]  We recognize that appellant’s last two reasons for withdrawal are being raised for the first time on appeal.  Because both parties have adequately briefed these issues and the record is sufficiently complete to allow our review, we elect to address these reasons.  See State v. Bradley, 629 N.W.2d 462, 464 (Minn. App. 2001) (agreeing to review constitutional argument where parties have adequate briefing time and issue was implied at district court level), review denied (Minn. Aug. 15, 2001).