This opinion will be unpublished and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
Casey C. Allen, petitioner,
State of Minnesota,
Filed June 10, 2003
Todd County District Court
File No. K101479
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Susan J. Andrews, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue SE, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Gaylord Saetre, Todd County Attorney, Jane M. Gustafson, Assistant County Attorney, 212 Second Avenue South, Long Prairie, MN 56347 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant claims that the postconviction court abused its discretion by denying appellant’s petition to withdraw his guilty plea. Because we find no abuse of discretion, we affirm, although on an alternate ground.
In July 2001, appellant Casey C. Allen, who was then 18 years old, was discovered attempting to have sexual intercourse with a four-year-old girl. Allen admitted to police that he had engaged in sexual conduct with the child, and he was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. In November 2001, Allen admitted to police that, several months earlier, he had engaged in sexual penetration with a 14-year-old girl, and he was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct for that offense.
Under a plea agreement, Allen pleaded guilty to first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct in exchange for (1) dismissal of the remaining first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge and (2) a joint recommendation that the court impose the minimum statutory sentence for Allen’s conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and order that the sentence for his conviction of third-degree criminal sexual conduct be served concurrently.
At the plea hearing, Allen stated that (1) he had discussed the matter with his attorney, (2) he understood the charges against him, (3) he understood the nature of the plea agreement, (4) he understood that if he declined the agreement the cases would be set for trial, and (5) he understood that by proceeding he gave up his right to a trial. He also stated that no one had made any threats or promises to him in exchange for his plea and that he had committed the acts underlying the charges of first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct. The district court determined that Allen understood his rights, surrendered those rights, and voluntarily pleaded guilty to both charges. The court further determined that there was an adequate factual basis for each of the offenses charged and sentenced Allen to the statutory minimum term, 144 months, for his conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and to a concurrent 28-month term for his conviction of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Allen filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief, seeking to withdraw his guilty plea. The court denied the petition, and this appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
Allen claims that the postconviction court abused its discretion by denying Allen’s petition to withdraw his guilty plea. Allen argued to the postconviction court and argues again on appeal that he was deprived of the right to effective assistance of counsel when he pleaded guilty because his counsel allegedly ignored Allen’s repeated requests “to take his cases to trial” and pressured him into pleading guilty. The postconviction court determined that Allen failed to show that he received ineffective assistance of counsel or that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s performance.
“We review a postconviction court’s findings to determine whether there is sufficient evidentiary support in the record.” Dukes v. State, 621 N.W.2d 246, 251 (Minn. 2001); see also Russell v. State, 562 N.W.2d 670, 672 (Minn. 1997). A postconviction court’s decision will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion. Dukes, 621 N.W.2d at 251. And this court may affirm the denial of a petition for postconviction relief on a ground other than that relied on by the postconviction court. See Hummel v. State, 617 N.W.2d 561, 563 (Minn. 2000).
Allen’s claim does not readily admit to standard ineffective-assistance-of-counsel analysis. However he has chosen to denominate the argument, it is clear his claim is that he was coerced into pleading guilty, and that is how we will analyze it.
A defendant does not have the absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea once it has been entered. Shorter v. State, 511 N.W.2d 743, 746 (Minn. 1994). The district court must permit a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea only if a defendant makes a timely motion and “withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.” Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1. The “involuntariness of a guilty plea * * * constitute[s] such a manifest injustice as to entitle a defendant to withdraw his plea.” State v. Danh, 516 N.W.2d 539, 544 (Minn. 1994) (alteration in original) (quotation omitted); see also Sykes v. State, 578 N.W.2d 807, 812 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. July 16, 1998).
Allen claims that he was coerced into pleading guilty because his attorney ignored his requests to take his case to trial and pressured him into pleading guilty. The record does not support that claim. At the plea hearing, Allen testified that no one made any threats or promises to him in exchange for the plea agreement and that he understood that by pleading guilty he gave up his right to a trial. Furthermore, Allen testified that (1) he understood the charges against him, (2) he understood that he was not required to enter a guilty plea, and (3) he was pleading guilty to the charges voluntarily. Allen has failed to show that his guilty plea was coerced. See State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 719 (Minn. 1994) (stating that district court can reject later claim of coercion by defendant when record of guilty plea shows that defendant made decision to plead guilty on his own); Danh, 516 N.W.2d at 544 (stating that record supports district court’s determination that defendant voluntarily pleaded guilty where he was represented by counsel and testified that he was not coerced into pleading guilty). We therefore affirm the postconviction court’s denial of Allen’s petition, although on an alternate ground.