opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Juan White Corona,
State of Minnesota,
Filed September 18, 2007
Cass County District Court
File No. K9-94-0463
Juan White Corona, OID #179543,
1000 Lakeshore Drive, Moose Lake, MN 55767-9449
(pro se appellant)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General,
1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Earl E. Maus, Cass County
Attorney, Cass County Courthouse, P.O. Box 3000, 300 Minnesota Avenue, Walker,
MN 56484 (for respondent)
and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Randall,
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
se appellant appeals from the district court’s denial of his second petition
for postconviction relief after a direct appeal, arguing that prosecutorial
misconduct, newly discovered evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, and
an erroneous jury instruction warrant a new trial. We affirm.
September 29, 1994, appellant Juan White Corona was convicted by a jury of
second-degree murder for shooting and killing his girlfriend’s brother in March
1994. He was sentenced to 312 months’
imprisonment. Corona appealed to this court, arguing that
the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his conviction. This court affirmed the conviction, and the
supreme court denied his petition for further review. State
v. Corona, No. C0-95-276, 1995 WL 479565 (Minn. App. Aug. 15, 1995), review denied (Minn. Sept. 20, 1995).
August 2000, Corona
filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief, arguing “judicial biasness,”
“prosecutorial misconduct,” and “attorney-client conflict.” The district court denied the petition on the
ground that Corona’s
claims were known or should have been known at the time of his direct appeal
and therefore he was required to have raised them then. Corona appealed to this court, arguing (1)
that he was unlawfully denied counsel for the postconviction proceedings and
(2) that the district-court judge who reviewed his petition for postconviction
relief should have recused himself because of public pressure relating to the
case. This court affirmed the district
court’s denial of Corona’s petition, and the supreme court denied his petition
for further review. Corona v. State, C9-00-1927 (Minn. App. July 17, 2001), review denied (Minn. Sept. 14, 2001).
January 9, 2006, Corona
filed a second pro se petition for postconviction relief. The district court summarily denied Corona’s
second petition for postconviction relief on the ground that it “fails to raise
issues that could not have been raised in the appellant’s direct appeal of his
conviction . . . .” Corona appeals.
E C I S I O N
Corona argues on appeal
that the district court abused its discretion when it summarily denied his
second petition for postconviction relief.
He contends that (1) the prosecutor committed misconduct by referring to
the victim’s “Good Character” and describing him as a “‘Happy-go-lucky’ guy who
had a ‘calming effect of People’” without allowing appellant to present
“rebuttal evidence”; (2) “there is newly discovered evidence, which the State
failed to disclose” at trial regarding the victim’s criminal history and prior
bad acts; (3) his defense counsel at trial was ineffective because he failed to
investigate the victim’s history of violent behavior; and (4) the district
court erroneously instructed the jury, for the purpose of his self-defense
claim, that he had a duty to retreat from his home. He seeks “a hearing at which Witnesses could
be called to testify, and also requests that a Subpoena be issued to produce all
records, (criminal and medical) in regards to [the victim’s] history.”
summary denial of a postconviction petition is reviewed for an abuse of
discretion. Powers v. State, 695 N.W.2d 371, 374 (Minn. 2005).
An evidentiary hearing is required, and a summary denial is therefore an
abuse of discretion, only if the petitioner alleges facts that, if proved,
would entitle the petitioner to the requested relief. Fratzke
v. State, 450 N.W.2d 101, 102 (Minn.
the rule described in State v. Knaffla,
if a petitioner has directly appealed a conviction, any matter raised in the
direct appeal, and any claim known to the petitioner at that time but not
raised, will not be considered by a court when presented in a subsequent
petition for postconviction relief. 309
Minn. 246, 252, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976); see
also Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 3 (2006). An exception to the Knaffla rule provides that a claim that was known but not raised
may be considered if the claim is so novel that its legal basis was not
reasonably available at the time of the direct appeal. Roby v.
State, 531 N.W.2d 482, 484 (Minn.
1995). Even if the legal basis of the
claim was reasonably available, this court may allow substantive review of the
claim in limited situations when fairness so requires and when the petitioner
did not “deliberately and inexcusably” fail to raise the issue on direct
appeal. Id. A
denial of postconviction relief based on the Knaffla rule is also reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Quick
v. State, 692 N.W.2d 438, 439 (Minn.
district court rejected, under the Knaffla
rule, Corona’s argument that the prosecutor committed misconduct at trial. The state asserts, and we agree, that this
argument was available to Corona
at the time of his direct appeal and does not fall under the exception to the Knaffla rule. 309 Minn.
at 252, 243 N.W.2d at 741. Therefore,
the argument is barred, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in
so concluding. Even if we were to
prosecutorial-misconduct argument, it does not warrant reversal because he
merely makes an assertion without any argument or supporting authority. See
State v. Modern Recycling, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 770, 772 (Minn. App. 1997) (“An
assignment of error based on mere assertion and not supported by any argument
or authorities in appellant’s brief is waived and will not be considered on
appeal unless prejudicial error is obvious on mere inspection.”).
Newly discovered evidence of the victim’s
Corona argues next that
newly discovered evidence of the victim’s criminal history requires
reversal. A new trial based on newly
discovered evidence may be granted when an appellant proves
(1) that the
evidence was not known to the defendant or his/her counsel at the time of the
trial; (2) that the evidence could not have been discovered through due
diligence before trial; (3) that the evidence is not cumulative, impeaching, or
doubtful; and (4) that the evidence would probably produce an acquittal or a
more favorable result.
Rainer v. State, 566 N.W.2d 692, 695 (Minn. 1997).
his argument is somewhat unclear, our interpretation of Corona’s brief is that
he claims to have discovered recently that the victim had an “arrest record for
crimes of violence,” “[s]ome of which [the victim] had revealed to Appellant in
the past,” and that these past crimes “include but are not limited to” (1) the
victim attempting to hit his girlfriend with a vehicle; (2) the victim kicking
a woman in the face in a fight outside a bar; and (3) the victim assaulting Corona.
least two of the three incidents were known to Corona at the time of trial. The jury heard evidence of the fact that the
victim had assaulted Corona
eight years earlier. And Corona concedes that the
victim “told Appellant about [the incident outside the bar] himself, at the
time it happened.” It is unclear from
Corona’s brief whether he claims that the victim was arrested for each of the
three incidents, but if the victim was arrested for either of the incidents
about which Corona was aware, evidence of those arrests could have been
discovered through due diligence before trial.
only incident that may not have been known to Corona at the time of trial is the victim allegedly
attempting to hit his girlfriend with a vehicle. It appears from Corona’s brief that he may have known that
the incident occurred but discovered only recently that the victim “had an
arrest record” related to the incident.
But even if neither Corona
nor his defense counsel knew about the incident at the time of trial, which
would satisfy the first of the four elements described in Rainer, at least two of the other three elements are not satisfied
here. Corona has not established that evidence of any
arrest in connection with the incident could not have been discovered through
due diligence before trial. If he was
aware of the incident, the fact that the victim was arrested in connection with
the incident could have been discovered with minimal effort. The second element is therefore not met here. And regarding the fourth element, although Corona asserts that the
evidence would have supported his self-defense claim and allowed him to rebut
character evidence that was complimentary to the victim, he does not establish
that the evidence would “probably” have produced a more favorable result. As we concluded on direct appeal, there is
ample evidence in the record to support Corona’s
conviction. Further, even though the
jury heard evidence that the victim had assaulted Corona
in the past, it convicted Corona. It is unlikely that hearing evidence that the
victim had also assaulted his girlfriend would have persuaded the jury to
of the murder.
Corona also argues that
the prosecution had an affirmative duty to disclose evidence of the victim’s
criminal history and that the state’s failure to do so violated Brady v. Maryland and denied him a fair
trial. See 373 U.S. 83,
87, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 1196-97 (1963). But unlike the appellant in Brady, Corona offers no evidence that the
prosecution knew about or suppressed the evidence in question. 373 U.S.
at 84, 83 S. Ct. at 1195. He merely presumes that because the victim
“had been arrested and detained in Cass
County on at least one
occasion,” the prosecutor here knew about and withheld evidence of the victim’s
criminal record. His presumption is
unsupported by the record.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Corona argues next that
his defense counsel was ineffective because he “failed to investigate” the
victim’s history of “violence against people.”
The state asserts that the argument is barred by the Knaffla rule. If Corona was not aware of the victim’s
“arrest record from crimes of violence” at the time of his direct appeal, however,
the basis for the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel argument that Corona makes
here was not available to him at the time of his direct appeal and is not
barred by Knaffla.
even if Corona’s
ineffective-assistance argument is not barred by Knaffla, it does not warrant reversal. An appellant claiming ineffective assistance
of counsel must “affirmatively prove that his counsel’s representation ‘fell
below an objective standard of reasonableness’ and ‘that there is a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different. A
reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in
the outcome.’” Gates v. State, 398 N.W.2d 558, 561 (Minn.
1987) (quoting Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668, 688, 694, 104 S. Ct. 2052, 2064, 2068 (1984)).
does not provide authority for or even make the assertion that his defense
counsel’s performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness when
he allegedly did not investigate the victim’s criminal history. See
Modern Recycling, Inc., 558 N.W.2d at 772 (“An assignment of error based on
mere assertion and not supported by any argument or authorities in appellant’s
brief is waived and will not be considered on appeal unless prejudicial error
is obvious on mere inspection.”). And
further, we are not persuaded that there is a reasonable probability that defense
counsel’s discovery of the victim’s “arrest record” would have resulted in a
different outcome at trial, particularly when the jury heard evidence of the
most relevant of the victim’s violent acts.
Jury instruction regarding appellant’s duty
Corona argues finally
that the district court committed plain error by instructing the jury that he
had a duty to retreat from his home when acting in self-defense. He argues that State v. Glowacki, 630 N.W.2d 392 (Minn. 2001), holds that there is
no duty to retreat from one’s home, and State
v. Baird, 654 N.W.2d 105 (Minn. 2002), provides that Glowacki should be given retroactive application.
if a defendant’s conviction is final when a new rule of law is announced, the
defendant may not avail himself of the new rule. O’Meara
v. State, 679 N.W.2d 334, 339 (Minn.
2004). And a case is final when a “‘judgment
of conviction has been rendered, the availability of appeal exhausted, and the
time for a petition for certiorari [has] elapsed . . . .’” Id. (quoting
Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S.
314, 321 n.6, 107 S. Ct. 708 (1987)) (alteration in original).
supreme court denied Corona’s
petition for further review on September 19, 1995, and his conviction became
final 90 days later (the date on which the time elapsed for filing a petition
for certiorari review of his conviction in the U.S. Supreme Court). See
Spears v. State, 725 N.W.2d 696, 700 (Minn. 2006).
Glowacki was not decided until
2001, well after Corona’s
conviction became final. He is therefore
not entitled to a new trial on the ground that the district court gave a jury
instruction contrary to the holding in Glowacki. He does not argue that the instruction was
otherwise improper at the time of trial.
none of the arguments in Corona’s second
petition for postconviction relief required the district court to hold an
evidentiary hearing and because those of his arguments that are not barred by
the Knaffla rule lack merit, we
conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Corona’s second petition
for postconviction relief.