This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






Rodney Allen Mattmiller,






State of Minnesota,



Filed June 14, 2005

Affirmed; motion denied
Crippen, Judge


Washington County District Court

File No. K0-02-2092



John Remington Graham, 180 Haut de la Paroisse, St-Agapit, Comté de Lotbinière, Quebec G0S 1Z0 Canada (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101-2134; and


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Jean E. Burdorf, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN  55487 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Rodney Mattmiller appeals from the postconviction court’s order denying his petition for relief, arguing that the special assistant county attorneys who prosecuted him were not properly appointed.  Because appellant failed to raise this issue on direct appeal, he is barred from challenging the prosecutorial appointments in a postconviction proceeding.  We therefore affirm.


            In December 2002 appellant was convicted after a jury trial of eight counts of tax evasion, filing false or fraudulent returns, and failure to pay motor vehicle taxes.  Appellant was tried in Washington County, the location of his residence.  The Washington County attorney appointed assistant Hennepin County attorneys to prosecute appellant as special assistant county attorneys.  The county attorney apparently relied on a joint power-sharing agreement entered into in 1970 among eight metropolitan area counties, including Washington and Hennepin counties, but neither the agreement nor the appointments were made a part of the trial record.

            Appellant was sentenced in March 2003 on one count of tax evasion, one count of failure to pay motor vehicle taxes, and three counts of filing a false or fraudulent return.  He filed a direct appeal, alleging evidentiary errors, insufficient evidence, preemption by federal law, constitutional defects, and error in failing to hold a Schwartz hearing.  We affirmed appellant’s convictions in a 2004 unpublished opinion, and the supreme court denied appellant’s petition for review.

In September 2004, appellant filed a postconviction petition alleging that the prosecutors were without legal authority to act on behalf of Washington County.  The district court refused appellant’s request for an evidentiary hearing and issued its order denying postconviction relief in October 2004.  The order stated that the role of the assistant Hennepin County attorneys during prosecution of the case was “no secret” and that appellant’s arguments should have been raised at the time of his direct appeal.


            A petition for postconviction relief is a collateral attack on a conviction that carries a presumption of regularity.  Boitnott v. State, 631 N.W.2d 362, 368 (Minn. 2001).  On review, the appellate court determines whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain the district court’s findings.  Id.  The district court’s order will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion.  Id. 

            The postconviction court need not consider matters that were raised or that were known but not raised at the time of the direct appeal.  State v. Johnson, 653 N.W.2d 646, 649 (Minn. App. 2002) (citing State v. Knaffla, 309 Minn. 246, 252, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976)).  The exceptions to the Knaffla rule include (1) claims that are so novel that the legal basis for them was not available on direct appeal; or (2) claims that the petitioner did not deliberately and inexcusably fail to raise on the direct appeal.  Johnson, 652 N.W.2d at 650.  The postconviction court may also entertain claims that are barred by the Knaffla rule in the interest of justice.  Boitnott, 631 N.W.2d at 369-70.

            As the district court stated in its findings, it was no secret that the prosecuting attorneys were from Hennepin County.  A claim of unauthorized appointment as an assistant county attorney is likewise not a novel claim.   See State v. Abbott, 356 N.W.2d 677, 679 (Minn. 1984) (refusing to vacate defendant’s conviction based on technically defective appointment of prosecutor).  

            Appellant argues that the state should be equitably estopped from raising a Knaffla bar, because he believed their representations that the appointment was proper.  A wronged party may plead equitable estoppel against the government where he or she has relied in good faith on government representations, to his or her detriment.  State v. Ramirez, 597 N.W.2d 575, 577 (Minn. App. 1999).  Generally, this estoppel requires wrongful government conduct, which is understood to mean affirmative misconduct.  Id. at 578.  Appellant has the burden of establishing that equitable estoppel applies.  Id.  We find no evidence of affirmative misconduct in the record before us that would support appellant’s allegations.

            Appellant also contends that the issuance of a complaint by a county attorney who was not properly appointed is a jurisdictional defect that cannot be waived and thus is not barred by Knaffla.  But the supreme court has concluded that this is no more than a technical defect that can be waived by the failure to raise the issue in the trial court.  Abbott, 356 N.W.2d at 679.  And because appellant was prosecuted by attorneys acting on behalf of the prosecutorial authority for the jurisdiction where the crime occurred,  there was no jurisdictional defect.  Cf. State v. Persons, 528 N.W.2d 278, 280 (Minn. App. 1995) (holding complaint must be prosecuted by prosecuting authority authorized to prosecute the offense).

            Based on the evidence in the record, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant’s petition for postconviction relief.  In light of our decision, we deny appellant’s motion to strike respondent’s brief and parts of its appendix.

            Affirmed; motion denied.

* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.