This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,


Ronnie Edgeworth,


Filed January 31, 2006


Minge, Judge


Crow Wing County District Court

File No. K3-03-3302



Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2131; and


Donald F. Ryan, Crow Wing County Attorney, Kristine R. DeMay, Assistant County Attorney, County Service Building, 322 Laurel Street, Brainerd, MN 56401 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Cathryn Middlebrook, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue S.E., Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Worke, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N


MINGE, Judge


            Appellant challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.  Because we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm.



Police searched a Brainerd apartment, discovered four grams of cocaine and other drugs, and arrested appellant Ronnie Edgeworth, along with several other individuals.  Police discovered money on appellant used in controlled drug buys within the preceding 48 hours.  Appellant was charged with second-degree sale of controlled-substance crime, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.022, subd. 1 (2002).

Appellant pleaded not guilty and the matter was scheduled for jury trial.  On the morning of the trial, but prior to jurors being called into the courtroom, appellant initiated settlement discussions.  Respondent agreed that appellant could plead guilty to an amended charge of third-degree sale of a controlled substance.  See Minn. Stat.                § 152.023, subd. 1 (2002). 

Appellant entered an Alford guilty plea.  In doing so, he acknowledged that he was competent, understood the charges against him, had adequate opportunity to consult with counsel, understood the rights he was giving up, was aware of the evidence against him and the risk of a harsher sentence, and understood the Alford plea.  He further stated that he wished to take advantage of the plea agreement and agreed that the court could accept the probable-cause portion of the complaint as a basis for the guilty plea.  The district court accepted appellant’s plea and found him guilty.  At appellant’s request, the district court ordered a pre-sentence investigation. 

            Several weeks later, appellant wrote to the judge requesting to withdraw his plea, and his attorney scheduled a hearing so that appellant could request withdrawal of his guilty plea.  At that hearing, appellant stated that after he pleaded guilty, he researched the charges against him and believed he had been overcharged because he only had $178 in his pocket when he was arrested, yet he was charged with a second-degree controlled-substance crime.  Appellant also argued that his criminal-history score was erroneously calculated; that he pleaded guilty because his attorney advised him that as an African-American, he would not get a fair trial in Brainerd; and that his attorney failed to effectively use his acceptance into Teen Challenge to obtain a better plea bargain arrangement.  Appellant finally stated that he was “very scared” and he waited until the last minute to take the plea.  Respondent opposed the withdrawal, arguing that appellant had committed a third-degree controlled-substance crime; that a jury had been present and both parties were prepared to begin trial when the appellant initiated and entered his plea; and that appellant entered his plea knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently.  Finally, respondent argued that appellant’s complaint about calculation of his criminal-history score was a sentencing issue, and appellant failed to cooperate with the pre-sentence investigation.

            The district court found appellant’s plea “knowing, . . . and voluntary,” denied the request to withdraw the plea, and, despite appellant’s request to participate in Teen Challenge as an alternate disposition, sentenced appellant to 43 months based on the parties’ plea agreement.  This appeal follows.



            The only issue is whether appellant should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.  A district court’s determination of whether to permit withdrawal of a guilty plea will only be reversed if the district court abused its discretion.  Barragan v. State, 583 N.W.2d 571, 572 (Minn. 1998).  “[T]he ultimate decision of whether to allow withdrawal under the ‘fair and just’ standard is ‘left to the sound discretion of the trial court, and it will be reversed only in the rare case in which the appellate court can fairly conclude that the trial court abused its discretion.’”  Butala v. State, 664 N.W.2d 333, 338-39 (Minn. 2003) (quoting Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989)); State v. Kaiser, 469 N.W.2d 316, 319-20 (Minn. 1991). 

            A criminal defendant has no absolute right to withdraw a plea of guilty once it has been entered.  Alanis v. State, 583 N.W.2d 573, 577 (Minn. 1998).  The rules of criminal procedure provide two bases upon which the district court may exercise its discretion to allow a criminal defendant to withdraw a plea of guilty.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05.   A defendant may withdraw a guilty plea at any time upon proof to the satisfaction of the court that withdrawal is necessary “to correct a manifest injustice.”  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1.  In addition, the district court may allow the defendant to withdraw a guilty plea before sentencing “if it is fair and just to do so” after considering the defendant’s reasons in support of the motion and the prejudice that a withdrawal would cause the prosecution.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 2. 

Appellant does not claim that the withdrawal of his guilty plea is necessary to cure a “manifest injustice,” but argues that his plea was not accurate, voluntary, or intelligently entered.  We consider whether the district court abused its discretion.  First, while appellant points out that sentencing worksheets from his prior convictions appear to have calculated his criminal-history score differently from the calculations used in this case, he has not shown that his criminal-history score was incorrect.  As the prosecution points out, the prosecutor and appellant’s attorney spent a significant amount of time verifying appellant’s record in Illinois as well as comparing the elements of his Illinois convictions to determine how those convictions would be charged under Minnesota law.  Although appellant requested a pre-sentence investigation, he did not cooperate once it was initiated.  As a result, additional information that would affect his criminal-history score was not available.  We conclude that the district court did not err in determining that appellant failed to show either that his criminal-history score was inaccurately calculated or that withdrawal of the guilty plea on this basis was necessary in the interests of fairness and justice. 

Second, appellant argues that his plea was involuntary because it was based on fear that he would be convicted solely because of his race.  This court examined a similar claim based on ethnicity in which a Somali immigrant pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary during voir dire although he claimed not to remember the facts that were the basis for his plea.  State v. Abdisalan, 661 N.W.2d 691 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Aug. 19, 2003).  In Abdisalan, the district court denied the appellant’s motion, he appealed, and this court found that the record objectively demonstrated that the defendant understood the nature and consequences of his plea.   Id. at 693-94. 

Here, appellant expressed a generalized apprehension of racial discrimination.  The bald assertion that one does not think he would get a fair trial is not enough to show the plea is involuntary.  If we were to accept that assertion, the involuntariness standard would be an expansive basis for withdrawal at the complete control of the defendant.  Appellant, like every criminal defendant on trial, has the opportunity to help select his own jury through the voir dire process, thus alleviating concerns of jury bias.  Also, appellant could have requested a change of venue.

Additionally, appellant argues that he should have been permitted to withdraw his guilty plea because his plea was unintelligent because the offense was overcharged, his lawyer advised him to plead guilty to third-degree controlled-substance crime after seeing his criminal record, and his lawyer failed to use appellant’s acceptance in Teen Challenge in plea negotiations.[1]  But the record belies the claim that appellant’s plea was unintelligent because he did receive the benefit of his bargain by pleading guilty to a lower-level offense and securing an agreement on his sentence.  Had he been convicted of second-degree controlled-substance crime (a severity-level 8 offense under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines), appellant’s presumptive sentence would have been 88 months based on appellant’s criminal-history score.  See Minn. Sent. Guidelines IV, V.  Appellant’s plea agreement entitled him to a sentence of 43 months, which is the low end of the presumptive sentence of a severity-level 6 offense.  See id.

Finally, appellant argues that his attorney effectively coerced him into pleading guilty to third-degree controlled-substance crime and did not argue effectively for his interests.  A plea of guilty must not be the product of coercion.  State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 719 (Minn. 1994).  In Abdisalan, the defendant argued that his attorney coerced him to plead guilty by advising him there was a 70% chance he would be convicted.  However, this court concluded that where the record did not indicate that the defendant’s attorney exerted pressure to plead guilty, and when the district court advised defendant of his trial rights as well as the direct and collateral consequences of the sentence imposed, an allegation of coercion would not vitiate a voluntary and intelligent plea.  Abdisalan, 661 N.W.2d at 694-95.

The record of appellant’s guilty plea indicates that his plea was knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.  He initiated the plea negotiations.  At the plea hearing, appellant acknowledged that he read, reviewed, and discussed the complaint and plea petition with his attorney and was satisfied with his attorney’s representation, and that he understood each of his trial rights and waived them.  He affirmed that he was taking advantage of the plea agreement to avoid the risk of conviction of a greater offense with a harsher sentence at trial.  The record indicates no hesitation when appellant entered his plea and waived his rights.  Based on this record, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s request to withdraw his guilty plea.


[1] Although appellant’s argument implies that his counsel was ineffective, appellant did not raise that argument, so we do not address it.