This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).







Donald Carlos Rutledge, petitioner,





State of Minnesota,



Filed July 27, 2004


Lansing, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 97063384



Donald Carlos Rutledge, MCF-Stillwater, 970 Pickett Street North, Bayport, MN 55003 (pro se appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda M. Freyer, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Willis, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            A jury found Donald Rutledge guilty of three related charges in 1998, and his first-degree criminal-sexual-conduct conviction was affirmed in a direct appeal filed the same year.  Rutledge subsequently petitioned for postconviction relief, and in 2002 we affirmed the denial of his postconviction relief petition.  Because this third appeal presents only issues that were either raised or could have been raised in the earlier appeals, we affirm the district court’s denial of postconviction relief.


            Donald Rutledge was convicted in 1998 of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, third-degree assault, and terroristic threats. The district court sentenced him to 129 months for first-degree criminal sexual conduct and imposed concurrent sentences of a year and a day for both the third-degree-assault and the terroristic-threats convictions. 

In State v. Rutledge, 1999 WL 185202 (Minn. App. Apr. 6, 1999), we affirmed Rutledge’s convictions but vacated the sentences for third-degree assault and terroristic threats.  In Rutledge v. State, 2002 WL 1837952, at *3-4 (Minn. App. 2002), we affirmed the district court’s denial of Rutledge’s first petition for postconviction relief, which had alleged newly discovered evidence warranting a new trial, error in the district court’s refusal to allow the introduction of Spreigl evidence to impeach the victim’s credibility, and a constitutional infirmity in a jury instruction.  The district court denied Rutledge’s second postconviction petition, and Rutledge appeals, raising multiple arguments on jurisdiction, the validity of the statutes under which he was convicted, and the deprivation of his constitutional rights.


“Once a petitioner has directly appealed his criminal conviction and has filed previous petitions for postconviction relief,” any issues that were known and could have been raised in the previous appeal or petitions, “will not be considered upon a subsequent petition for postconviction relief.”  Jones v. State, 671 N.W.2d 743, 746 (Minn. 2003); see also Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 3 (2002) (authorizing summary denial of second or subsequent petition for similar relief on behalf of same petitioner).  The supreme court has recognized two exceptions to the general rule:  (1) when the legal basis for the claim was not reasonably available to counsel at the time of the previous appeal, or (2) in limited circumstances in which fairness demands a substantive review of the case.  Fox v. State, 474 N.W.2d 821, 825 (Minn. 1991); Case v. State, 364 N.W.2d 797, 800 (Minn. 1985).

In this, his second appeal of a denial of postconviction relief, and the third appeal arising from his 1998 conviction, Rutledge appears to argue that the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over his prosecution because of a special citizenship status he enjoys and that the district court, by not responding to a notice and demand laying out this claim, has thereby conceded to and ratified his argument.  He also argues that the statutes under which he was convicted are void because they do not contain an enacting clause as required by the Minnesota Constitution and that the district court’s assent to the

use of gold fringe on the flags in the courtroom implicated its intent to cause deprivation of rights under color of law.

Rutledge has not presented issues on which he is entitled to postconviction relief.  His constitutional arguments are based on principles of law that have remained unaltered in the few years since Rutledge’s direct appeal before this court.  His remaining arguments are based on the same circumstances that existed and were known at the time of his previous appeals.  Consequently, Rutledge’s claims in this appeal are all issues of which he “knew or should have known” at the time of his direct appeal.  See State v. Seifert,423 N.W.2d 368, 372 (Minn. 1989) (stating that “the pro se defendant will be held to the standard of an attorney in presenting his appeal”), superseded by rule on other grounds as stated in Black v. State, 560 N.W.2d 83, 86 (Minn. 1997).  Rutledge states that he is absolved from this procedural bar because the court did not fulfill its duty to inform him of “all evidence either for or against” him, but the issues that he presents are legal theories, not evidence.

Even if the claims raised in the postconviction petition were not procedurally barred, Rutledge’s arguments are without merit.  The brief does not explain how the cases and statutes support the arguments for which they are cited, and we are unable to discern any reasonable connection.  The brief provides no basis for substantive review.  For these reasons, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Rutledge’s petition for postconviction relief.