This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Willie James Lee,
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K7012385
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Darrell C. Hill, Assistant County Attorney, 50 West Kellogg Blvd., Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Leslie J. Rosenberg, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Willie James Lee challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea prior to sentencing. We affirm.
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. The “fair and just” standard does not entail an absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea before sentencing, and the court must guard against a standard that “would undermine the integrity of the plea-taking process.” Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989) (citation omitted). The defendant bears the burden of proving that the reason for withdrawing the plea is fair and just. Id. And the ultimate decision to allow a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea prior to sentencing is left to the sound discretion of the district court, and it will be reversed “only in the rare case in which the appellate court can fairly conclude that the [district] court abused its discretion.” Id.
Appellant first argues that withdrawal is fair and just because he claims his attorney failed to discuss a necessity defense with him before he entered the guilty plea. But appellant signed a petition to enter a plea of guilty in a felony case. And paragraph 5 of that petition states that the attorney had discussed both the case and possible defenses with appellant. Moreover, while nothing in the petition specifically refers to a necessity defense, a review of the record indicates the necessity defense was not applicable on these facts. The necessity defense is unavailable if the choice of action is necessitated by recklessness or negligence. State v. Johnson, 289 Minn. 196, 199, 183 N.W.2d 541, 543 (1971). Here, appellant and his partner entered the home of others and began arguing with the occupants. During the argument, appellant’s partner pointed his gun at one victim while appellant choked another occupant. Thus, appellant recklessly or negligently put himself in the situation that ultimately resulted in his possessing a firearm, and therefore he cannot claim necessity.
Appellant also contends that he has a fair and just reason to withdraw his guilty plea based on his claims that the plea was induced by threats made upon his life, he was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol on the day of the plea hearing, and he did not understand the consequences of his plea. But other than appellant’s own affidavit that was submitted to the district court, there is no evidence to support these claims. And a plea withdrawal must be premised upon more than the bare allegations of appellants. State v. Brown, 406 N.W.2d 530, 533 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. July 15, 1987).
The record indicates that at the plea hearing, appellant’s attorney and the district court made sure that appellant understood the consequences of his plea, that he was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol on that day, and that no outside pressures forced appellant to plead guilty. Appellant’s attorney went through the guilty plea petition with appellant to make sure appellant understood the plea process. The attorney asked appellant if he understood the consequences of pleading guilty, specifically that he would be admitting to his involvement in the offense and that the State of Iowa could submit a probation violation, and appellant answered affirmatively. The attorney then asked appellant if there was anything that made it difficult for him to understand what was happening at the hearing, and appellant responded in the negative.
The district court also engaged in its own dialogue with appellant at the plea hearing. The district court asked appellant if appellant had time to think the plea over, and appellant answered affirmatively. The district court asked appellant if he understood the deal that was made, and appellant answered affirmatively. The district court asked appellant if he signed the petition freely and voluntarily, and appellant answered affirmatively. The district court asked appellant if he had any questions regarding the petition or any rights he would be giving up by pleading guilty, and appellant had no questions for the district court.
The district court was in the best position to evaluate appellant’s claims. See State v. Lopez, 379 N.W.2d 633, 638 (Minn. App. 1986) (stating that the district court is in the best position to judge credibility when deciding if a defendant should be allowed to withdraw a guilty plea), review denied (Minn. Feb. 14, 1986). Here, after reviewing the answers appellant gave on the petition to enter a plea of guilty and at the guilty plea hearing, the district court concluded that appellant did not establish a fair and just reason to withdraw his plea. Based on the record, we conclude that appellant has failed to meet his burden of showing that the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.