This opinion will be unpublished and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,
William Michael Matthews,
Filed February 10, 2004
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 02051328
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Leslie J. Rosenberg, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue SE, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Klaphake, Judge; and Anderson, Judge.
Appellant challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that his depression prevented him from making a voluntary or intelligent plea. Appellant further argues that the court abused its discretion by not granting him a continuance so that he could retain different counsel. We affirm.
On June 27, 2002, Minneapolis police received information from a confidential informant that appellant William Matthews would be involved in the distribution of narcotics that evening. The police conducted surveillance and saw an individual with cash in his hand enter Matthews’s vehicle and then get out of the vehicle after it had driven a short distance. The police arrested the individual and found crack cocaine in his possession; he told the police that he had just purchased the drugs from Matthews. The police stopped Matthews’s vehicle and arrested him. During a search of Matthews’s automobile, the police discovered 23.9 grams of crack cocaine. Matthews was charged with one count of first-degree controlled-substance crime (sale) and one count of second-degree controlled-substance crime (possession).
Matthews agreed to plead guilty to the first-degree controlled-substance crime in exchange for a downward departure to 72 months’ imprisonment and dismissal of the second-degree controlled-substance crime and an unrelated charge. At the plea hearing on January 8, 2003, Matthews executed a plea petition, which, inter alia, waived his right to a trial. In the plea petition, Matthews noted that he had “talked with or been treated by a psychiatrist or other person for a nervous or mental condition” in the past but had never been a patient in a mental hospital and had not been ill recently. Matthews’s defense counsel also addressed Matthews’s mental health during his plea:
Q: Now in this plea petition, page 1, paragraph 7, you indicate that you have been treated in the past by a psychiatrist or other person for a nervous or mental condition. That doesn’t stop you from understanding what is going on today; does it?
The court also inquired as to whether Matthews understood the proceedings:
Q: Any questions about any of your rights?
Q. Are you satisfied you understand what is going on?
At the sentencing hearing on March 13, 2003, before the court imposed sentence, Matthews asked to withdraw his guilty plea, stating that he wanted to go to trial and did not want to waive his right to appeal denial of a previous suppression motion. Defense counsel explained:
[Matthews] was diagnosed as a manic depressive and put on medication for that. And he indicated after the plea and once he was taken to Anoka, he was out from under the pressure and had a chance to start reflecting on what had happened. And personally, I’m concerned that if he was in a state of depression, he did not properly comprehend what was going on at the time of the guilty plea, notwithstanding the fact that he did answer the questions. So I believe, Your Honor, there’s a good faith basis by Mr. Matthews to request that his sentence be continued so that he can seek other counsel, as well as counsel making a motion to withdraw the plea.
The court denied Matthews’s motion, noting Matthews had stated in his plea petition that he had been treated in the past for a nervous or medical condition but that his condition did not prevent him from understanding what he was doing by pleading guilty. Matthews also requested a continuance so that he could retain different counsel. The court denied Matthews’s request and sentenced him. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
Matthews argues that the district court erred by denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea before sentencing. There is no absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea once it has been entered. Shorter v. State, 511 N.W.2d 743, 746 (Minn. 1994). A defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that allowing withdrawal of his guilty plea before sentencing would be fair and just. Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989). To determine whether to allow withdrawal, the district court must “give due consideration not just to the reasons advanced by the defendant but [also] to ‘any prejudice the granting of the motion would cause the prosecution by reason of actions taken in reliance upon the defendant’s plea.’” Id. (quoting Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 2). This court will reverse a district court’s decision on a motion to withdraw a guilty plea only if the court abused its discretion. Barnes v. State, 489 N.W.2d 273, 275 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. Nov. 3, 1992).
“There are three basic prerequisites to a valid guilty plea: the plea must be accurate, voluntary and intelligent (i.e., knowingly and understandingly made).” State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 251 (Minn. 1983). The purpose of the accuracy requirement is to “protect a defendant from pleading guilty to a more serious offense than he could be convicted of [at trial].” Id. The voluntariness requirement acts to ensure that a defendant did not plead guilty because of improper pressures or inducements. Brown v. State, 449 N.W.2d 180, 182 (Minn. 1989). And a plea must be intelligent to ensure that the defendant knows and understands the charges, the rights he waives by pleading guilty, and the consequences of his plea. Id.
Matthews argues that his plea was not voluntary or intelligent because his judgment was impaired by his depression and he felt pressured to take the plea. But nothing in the record suggests improper coercion or threats or that Matthews was pressured into accepting a plea. See Sykes v. State, 578 N.W.2d 807, 813 (Minn. App. 1998) (determining that defendant’s plea was voluntary, in part, because the record contained no evidence to suggest that the state subjected defendant to mental coercion or that the state threatened defendant with physical harm), review denied (Minn. July 16, 1998).
Furthermore, the record shows that Matthews’s plea was intelligent because he understood the proceedings and the consequences of his plea. At the plea hearing, Matthews stated that he had not been pressured to take the plea, did not have questions about his rights, and understood the proceedings. The district court also described the details of the plea agreement before accepting Matthews’s plea, and Matthews did not object to the plea or make any comments that suggested that he did not understand the plea. In denying Matthews’s plea-withdrawal motion, the judge, who also presided over Matthews’s plea hearing, noted that Matthews had been asked at the plea hearing about his depression and that Matthews had stated that he understood his plea. Matthews presented no evidence at the sentencing hearing that he had sought any psychological help, reported any symptoms, or received any medication for his condition while in custody.
Matthews further contends that the district court should be reversed because it “appeared to deny the motion for expediency” rather than for any substantive legal reason. But the district court was in the best position to evaluate Matthews’s claim that his plea was involuntary and not intelligent. See State v. Lopez, 379 N.W.2d 633, 638 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Feb. 14, 1986). And because Matthews had not shown that he was entitled to withdraw his plea, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying his motion. See Kim, 434 N.W.2d at 266 (holding that defendant has burden of proof to establish “fair and just” reason exists to withdraw plea).
Matthews further asserts that the district court “did not appear to seriously consider”his request for a continuance so that he could retain different counsel, who would make a “proper and thorough motion” for Matthews to withdraw his guilty plea. The granting of a continuance is a matter within the district court’s discretion, and the court’s ruling will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of that discretion. State v. Rainer, 411 N.W.2d 490, 495 (Minn. 1987). The decision should be based on all the facts and circumstances surrounding the request. State v. Vance, 254 N.W.2d 353, 358 (Minn. 1977). A defendant may not demand a continuance for the purpose of delay or obtain a continuance by arbitrarily choosing to substitute counsel at the time of trial. Id. The reviewing court must determine whether denial of a request for a continuance materially prejudiced the defendant in preparing or presenting his case. State v. Bailey, 262 N.W.2d 406, 409 (Minn. 1977).
Here, we find no material prejudice to Matthews. There is no evidence that Matthews expressed a desire for new counsel or made any effort to find new counsel during the time between his plea hearing and his sentencing hearing. Furthermore, the only reason that Matthews gave for wanting the continuance was because he wanted to consult with new counsel about withdrawing his guilty plea. But the court had already denied Matthew’s motion to withdraw his plea. The district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Matthews’s request for a continuance.
Matthews filed a pro se supplemental brief in which he raises four arguments for the first time on appeal. Generally, appellate courts decline to decide issues that have not been addressed by the district court, but are raised for the first time on appeal, even if the issues involve constitutional questions regarding criminal procedure. State v. Sorenson, 441 N.W.2d 455, 457 (Minn. 1989). Further, Matthews offers no legal support for his arguments and arguments not supported by legal authority are waived. See Ganguli v. Univ. of Minn.,512 N.W.2d 918, 919 n.1 (Minn. App. 1994) (declining to address allegations unsupported by legal analysis or citation). But because this court may address such arguments in the interests of justice, we do so here and conclude that they have no merit. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.04.
First, Matthews claims that he is entitled to relief because more than 36 hours passed between the time of his arrest and the time he first appeared in court. See Minn. R. Crim. P. 4.02, subd. 5(1). Because delays for more than 36 hours are presumptively illegal, evidence obtained as a result of such a delay can be excluded by the district court. State v. Case, 412 N.W.2d 1, 4 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Oct. 28, 1987). Here, although the record indicates that Matthews’s first appearance in court was delayed by approximately 24 hours, Matthews has not shown that he is entitled to relief. Matthews does not claim that his ability to prepare for his defense was prejudiced by the delay and does not assert that there was any evidence obtained during the delay that should have been suppressed. See id. (concluding that defendant who did not have his first appearance in court within 36 hours after his arrest was not prejudiced because “police obtained no evidence which was used against [defendant] at trial”). Thus, Matthews’s claim does not warrant relief.
Next, Matthews argues that the brief submitted on his behalf by the public defender contains significant errors. First, Matthews asserts that the brief states that his car was towed when in fact it was not. But this error is not significant. Next, Matthews argues that the brief is in error by describing March 13, 2003, as the date of his sentencing hearing; he contends that, instead, this was the date of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. But the record shows that March 13, 2003, was the date of both Matthews’s motion to withdraw his plea and his sentencing.
Matthews further claims that he felt improper pressure to plead guilty because during one of his court hearings in January, the district court “brought up [Matthews’s] concerns about [his] daughter.” Matthews argues that this placed improper pressure on him to plead guilty because he had told only his attorney about his daughter and not the district court. We find nothing in the record suggesting that Matthews was subjected to coercion to plead guilty.
Finally, Matthews asserts that his plea agreement was violated because he did not see a letter recommending that he attend boot camp. During Matthews’s plea hearing, his attorney read portions of the plea agreement and stated that as part of the plea negotiation “you will receive a Challenge Incarceration letter recommend[ing] that you attend the boot camp.” At Matthews’s sentencing, the district court sentenced him to serve “72 months in the custody of the Commissioner of Corrections at such place as the Commissioner determines is appropriate.” When, as here, an appellant acts pro se, we are disposed to disregard defects in the brief, “but that does not relieve appellants of the necessity of providing an adequate record and preserving it in a way that will permit review.” Thorp Loan & Thrift Co. v. Morse, 451 N.W.2d 361, 363 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. Apr. 13, 1990). Because the record contains insufficient information for us to determine why Matthews did not receive the letter recommending him for boot camp and whether that failure is a violation of the plea agreement, Matthews failed to meet his burden of providing an adequate record, and we must, therefore, reject his claim that the plea agreement was violated. See Noltimier v. Noltimier, 280 Minn. 28, 29, 157 N.W.2d 530, 531 (1968) (holding that if record is not sufficient to support review, appeal must be dismissed).