This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Loren James Cade,
Filed November 26, 2002
Wilkin County District Court
File No. K800202
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, James B. Early, Assistant Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Timothy E.J. Fox, Wilkin County Attorney, City Hall, P.O. Box 214, Breckenridge, MN 56520 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Leslie J. Rosenberg, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 600, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Minge, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Loren Cade appeals the district court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to third-degree criminal sexual conduct. In detailed findings and an accompanying memorandum, the district court found that Cade’s testimony explaining that he believed he was pleading to a North Dakota charge was not credible. The district court’s reasoning is supported by the record, and we affirm.
Minnesota and North Dakota each charged Loren Cade with criminal sexual conduct for actions involving T.E., a fifteen-year-old foster child who resided with Cade’s mother. T.E. told police that she had sexual intercourse with Cade once at his mother’s house in rural Wahpeton, North Dakota, and once at Cade’s house in Breckenridge, Minnesota. During a police interview, Cade admitted to sexual contact with T.E., once at his home in Breckenridge, Minnesota, and once at his mother’s home in North Dakota.
Cade was represented by separate attorneys in each state and negotiated separate pleas. He signed a plea agreement on April 24, 2001, in Richland County, North Dakota relating to the North Dakota charge. He pleaded guilty on May 22, 2001, in Wilkin County, Minnesota to the Minnesota criminal-sexual-conduct charge.
At the Wilkin County plea hearing he responded to questions from his attorney and the court. He stated under oath that he understood the plea petition and the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty. Cade informed the court that he had read the complaint and his guilty plea petition, that he had the opportunity to question his attorney about it, and that he had sufficient time to discuss his case with his attorney. When Cade’s attorney asked him if he understood that he pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the third degree committed in May 2000 “here in Wilkin County” Cade replied, “Yes.”
On June 6, 2001, Cade returned to Richland County, North Dakota, for a plea hearing on the North Dakota charge. He pleaded to an amended charge that was classified as a misdemeanor. When he subsequently appeared for the July 30, 2001, sentencing hearing in Wilkin County, Minnesota, Cade moved to withdraw his guilty plea. Cade told the court that he had been confused when he entered the plea in Minnesota. He said that he thought the charges had been consolidated and that he was pleading guilty to the North Dakota charge when he appeared for the Wilkin County, Minnesota, plea hearing. Cade attributed his confusion to his hearing disability. Cade is deaf and used an interpreter during court proceedings. The district court held a hearing on the motion to withdraw the plea. Following the hearing, the court denied the motion, and Cade appeals.
A defendant does not have an absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea. Shorter v. State, 511 N.W.2d 743, 746 (Minn. 1994). Allowing withdrawal of a guilty plea is within the district court’s discretion and is reviewed under an abuse-of-discretion standard. Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 685 (Minn. 1997). When the district court makes specific factual findings, we review the findings under a clear-error standard. State v. Buchanan, 431 N.W.2d 542, 551-52 (Minn. 1988). Because the weight and believability of witness testimony is an issue for the district court, we defer to that court’s credibility determinations. State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988).
A valid guilty plea must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent. Perkins, 559 N.W.2d at 688. A manifest injustice occurs if a plea is not knowingly and understandingly made, and the plea may be withdrawn. Id. When a defendant moves to withdraw a guilty plea before sentencing, he is not required to meet the higher standard of manifest injustice but must only demonstrate that it is fair and just to allow the plea withdrawal. Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 2. Thus, a defendant who establishes that his plea was not knowingly and understandingly made has demonstrated that plea withdrawal would be fair and just.
Cade argues that his plea was not knowing and intelligent because he believed that he was pleading guilty to the North Dakota charge when he entered his plea in Wilkin County, Minnesota, and that he has consistently maintained his innocence on the Minnesota charge. But the record shows otherwise. At the hearing on Cade’s motion to withdraw his plea, Cade, who is forty-two and a high school graduate, admitted that he can read English, that he understood the Minnesota complaint, that his attorney read and explained his Minnesota plea petition to him with the aid of an interpreter, and that a separate attorney represented him on the North Dakota charge. In at least two places in the guilty-plea transcript, Cade was told that the charges to which he was pleading occurred in Minnesota, and Breckenridge and Wilkin County were specifically mentioned. Cade stated that he had pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct, “committed in May of the year 2000 here in Wilkin County.”
The record also fails to support Cade’s claim that he has consistently maintained his innocence. When the police questioned him about the sexual contact that occurred in Breckenridge, he said that he had intercourse with T.E. in his room. Cade lives in Breckenridge and has not lived in his mother’s North Dakota house for about twenty-one years. Cade testified that his confusion about his Minnesota plea arose after he was sentenced in North Dakota and was leaving the Richland County, North Dakota, courthouse. This was at least two weeks after he had entered the plea in Minnesota and over a month before he moved to withdraw his Minnesota plea.
The district court found that Cade did not assert confusion or misunderstanding of his pleas until he had pleaded in both states and had been sentenced to a misdemeanor in North Dakota. Cade then attempted to revise his previous statements to claim that both incidents occurred in North Dakota and that he had failed to comprehend that the lengthy Minnesota proceeding with a separate Minnesota attorney, and multiple specific written and oral references to Breckenridge, Minnesota, resulted in a plea to a Minnesota charge. The district court found that Cade’s testimony was not credible.
Based on the district court’s credibility determination and the evidence supporting the finding that Cade knowingly and intelligently entered his guilty plea to criminal sexual conduct that occurred in Minnesota, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Cade’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. See Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989) (counseling against allowing plea withdrawals that would undermine the integrity of the plea-taking process).