This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Ofiong Louis Sanders, petitioner,
Filed September 20, 2005
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K3-97-1762
John M. Stuart, State Public
Defender, Benjamin J. Butler, Assistant Public Defender,
Mike Hatch, Attorney General,
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Parker, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges the denial of his petition for postconviction relief. Appellant was sentenced to an upward durational departure under the dangerous-offender statute; he argues that his sentence is unconstitutional because a judge, not a jury, found the aggravating factors justifying the departure. Because the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant relief, we affirm.
In December 1997, appellant Ofiong Sanders was convicted by jury of first-degree burglary, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 1(a) (1996). Sanders was sentenced to 180 months in prison, an upward durational departure from the presumptive guidelines sentence of 65 months. The district court based the departure on its determination that Sanders was a career offender under Minn. Stat. § 609.152, subd. 3 (1996). Sanders appealed, and in December 1998, this court affirmed his conviction. State v. Sanders, C9-98-1232 (Minn. App. Dec. 29, 1998), review denied (Minn. Mar. 16, 1999).
In August 2001, Sanders petitioned
for postconviction relief, arguing that because he did not have five separate and
sequential felony offenses and convictions, he did not meet the definition of
career offender described in State v.
Huston, 616 N.W.2d 282 (Minn. App. 2000).
The state agreed and moved for a sentencing departure based on the
alternative theory that Sanders was a dangerous offender under Minn. Stat.
§ 609.152, subd. 2 (1996), subsequently recodified as Minn. Stat. §
609.1095, subd. 2 (1998). Without a
hearing, the district court again sentenced Sanders to 180 months in prison, finding
that he was a dangerous offender. This
court reversed and remanded because Sanders was resentenced without a hearing. State v.
Sanders, 644 N.W.2d 483, 488 (
In July 2002, after a resentencing
hearing, the district court once again sentenced Sanders to 180 months as a
dangerous offender. Sanders appealed
this sentence, arguing that the state did not prove that he was a dangerous
offender. In March 2003, this court
affirmed Sanders’s sentence. State v. Sanders, C4-02-1760 (
In August 2004, Sanders filed another petition for postconviction relief, arguing that his sentence violated his constitutional rights because the upward durational departure was based on aggravating factors found by the judge, not a jury. The postconviction court denied Sanders’s petition. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
petition for postconviction relief is a collateral attack on a judgment which
carries a presumption of regularity and which, therefore, cannot be lightly set
aside.” Pederson v. State, 649 N.W.2d 161, 163 (
argues that his sentence is unconstitutional because a judge, not a jury, found
the facts supporting the upward durational departure based on the
dangerous-offender statute. He argues
that (1) the rules established in Apprendi
Apprendi, the United States Supreme
Court held that “[o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that
increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must
be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” 530
first challenges his sentence based on the rules announced in Apprendi and Ring, arguing that his sentence was greater than the prescribed
statutory maximum. But before Blakely, courts looked to the applicable
statute, not to the sentencing guidelines, to determine the statutory maximum
sentence for an offense. See, e.g., State v. McCoy, 631 N.W.2d 446, 451 (Minn. App. 2001) (deciding
that Apprendi was inapplicable to the
defendant’s sentence, which was less than half of the statutory maximum
sentence of 25 years). Here, the
statutory maximum sentence for first-degree burglary was 240 months.
Sanders next argues that he is entitled to benefit from the rule announced in Blakely because he was resentenced after Apprendi was decided, and Blakely does not announce a new rule but rather is an extension of Apprendi. Sanders argues that the Apprendi rule, as explained in Blakley,should apply to his sentence. But the Minnesota Supreme Court recently decided that
[b]ecause reasonable jurists . . . disagreed over the import of Apprendi for sentencing guidelines, extending the benefit of the Blakely rule beyond those cases pending on direct review at the time of the announcement of the rule would undermine the retroactivity policy of validating good-faith state court decisions and preserving finality.
defendant is entitled to benefit from a new rule of federal constitutional criminal
procedure if his case is pending on direct review when that new rule is
announced. O’Meara v. State, 679 N.W.2d 334, 339 (
Sanders was convicted of first-degree burglary in December 1997 and he was
sentenced in April 1998. This court
affirmed Sanders’s conviction in December 1998, and the Minnesota Supreme Court
denied Sanders’s petition for review on March 16, 1999. State
v. Sanders, C9-98-1232 (
when a new rule is a “watershed rule of criminal procedure,” a defendant may
benefit from the rule even if his case is final when the rule is
announced. State v. Petschl, 692 N.W.2d 463, 471 (
A watershed rule of criminal procedure is a rule that “alters the understanding of the basic procedures essential to the fairness of a criminal conviction.” Petschl, 692 N.W.2d at 471. The Minnesota Supreme Court has determined that Blakely “does not impact the accuracy of an underlying determination of guilt or innocence” and has concluded that Blakely is not a watershed rule of criminal procedure. Houston, ___ N.W.2d at ___, 2005 WL 1981578, at *4-5.
Because Blakely announced a new rule that is not a watershed rule of criminal procedure and because Sanders’s conviction and sentence both were final when Blakely was decided, he is not entitled to benefit from the rule announced in Blakely. Therefore, we conclude that the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion by denying Sanders postconviction relief.