may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed April 1, 1997
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 92082718
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda M. Freyer, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth St., Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for Respondent)
William Thigpen Rose, MCF-Stillwater, P. O. Box 55, Stillwater, MN 55082 (pro se Appellant)
Considered and decided by Parker, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.
Appellant challenges a district court order denying without a hearing his petition for postconviction relief. We conclude that the district court's denial of the petition was not an abuse of discretion and affirm.
After further examination, the State Hospital recommended appellant's return for adjudication. Based on the record and pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 20, the district court found appellant competent to stand trial. In September 1993, as part of a plea agreement, appellant pleaded guilty to first-degree assault. Sentencing was left to the discretion of the court. Before entering his plea, appellant indicated that (1) he understood the charges and proceedings; (2) he had read, he understood, and signed his petition to plead guilty; (3) he understood that by making the plea he was waving his right to a jury trial, the presumption of innocence, and associated rights; (4) he had not been coerced in any way to plead guilty; and (5) he was competent to understand the proceedings. The record also reflects that appellant knew and understood the availability of the defense of not guilty by reason of mental illness.
At sentencing, the state requested an upward departure from the presumptive sentence of 98 months. Appellant argued for a downward departure based in part on his mental impairment at the time the assault occurred. The district court departed upward and imposed a sentence of 150 months. On appeal this court affirmed, concluding that the district court had not abused its discretion in upwardly departing because appellant left the victim beaten and unable to summon medical assistance and the evidence demonstrated that the victim suffered from multiple injuries, supporting the finding that "the multiple nature of the injuries indicates that this beating occurred over a prolonged period of time." State v. Rose, No. C0-94-476 (Minn. App. Aug. 23, 1994), review denied (Minn. Oct. 27, 1994).
In February 1996, appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief, arguing that he must be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea because: (1) trial counsel had coerced him to plead guilty by promising appellant's maximum sentence would be 14 months and by threatening to withdraw from the case if appellant did not plead guilty; (2) the state grossly exaggerated the victim's injuries to enhance the charges and sentence; (3) trial counsel failed to investigate the victim's injuries and medical records properly; (4) trial counsel was inadequate because appellant was allowed to proceed while he was mentally incompetent to enter into a plea agreement; and (5) trial counsel failed to investigate or raise the issue of appellant's competence at the time of the incident. The district court denied appellant's request for appointed counsel and an evidentiary hearing and refused to vacate appellant's guilty plea, finding it voluntary, accurate, and intelligent.
Appellant asserts that he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claim that trial counsel had coerced him to plead guilty and on his claim trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate properly the victim's injuries and medical records, for allowing appellant to proceed while he was mentally incompetent to enter into a plea, and for failing to investigate or raise the issue of appellant's mental illness at the time of the incident. We disagree.
On appeal from summary denial of a petition for postconviction relief, the reviewing court determines only whether sufficient evidence exists to support the lower court's findings. Roby v. State, 547 N.W.2d 354, 356 (Minn. 1996). The district court will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. Id.
[A]n evidentiary hearing upon a petition for postconviction relief is not required unless petitioner alleges such facts which, if proved by a fair preponderance of the evidence, would entitle him or her to the requested relief. The allegations in the petition must be more than argumentative assertions without factual support. * * * [W]here a petitioner alleges constitutionally inadequate performance by * * * [his attorney], the petitioner must allege facts which would 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.
Id. (citations and quotations omitted). Therefore, appellant must show facts that, if proved, would entitle him to relief, or that but for his counsel's errors his sentence would have been less.
a. Competency to enter plea.
Appellant's claim that trial counsel allowed him to enter a guilty plea while he was mentally incompetent must fail. Pursuant to Minn. R. Crim. P. 20, the district court found appellant competent to stand trial. There is no argument or evidence in the record to indicate that appellant was not competent to stand trial or, alternatively, to enter a plea. Appellant alleges no facts that would indicate his counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness or that but for some unprofessional error by counsel, the result of the proceeding would have been different. The record is fully developed and the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to grant appellant an evidentiary hearing on this claim.
Appellant states that counsel coerced him into pleading guilty by promising he would not receive a sentence in excess of 14 months and telling him that if he did not plead guilty, counsel would withdraw and appellant would be forced to represent himself.
In order for a guilty plea to be valid it must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent. State v. Kaiser, 469 N.W.2d 316, 318 (Minn. 1991). The voluntariness requirement helps insure that the defendant does not plead guilty because of any improper pressures or inducements. Id.
The record clearly shows that appellant signed a petition to plead guilty, that appellant knew a 20-year sentence was possible, that appellant was aware that the state was going to ask for an upward departure in sentencing, and that appellant specifically stated that his plea was voluntary and that no promises or threats had been made. The record was sufficiently developed to support the district court's finding that appellant's guilty plea was not coerced.
c. Failure to investigate.
Appellant also claims that trial counsel failed to investigate adequately the victim's injuries and medical records The district court did not specifically address this claim in its memorandum.
Failure to further investigate is not error by defense counsel without a showing that significant exculpatory evidence would have been discovered. Crisler v. State, 520 N.W.2d 22, 26 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Sept. 28, 1994). The record indicates that trial counsel reviewed the victim's medical records, established at the sentencing hearing that some of the victim's injuries might have been old injuries and that some injuries might have been exacerbated by the air released from her lungs, and argued that the injuries barely supported a conviction of first-degree assault. While appellant has provided additional information that the victim's anemia may have further exaggerated the appearance of her injuries, there is no indication that the result of the proceeding would have been different if trial counsel had presented this information. Again, the record was sufficiently developed and the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to grant an evidentiary hearing on the basis of trial counsel's alleged failure to investigate.
d. Appellant's mental competence at the time of the incident.
Appellant's last allegation regarding ineffectiveness of trial counsel cites counsel's failure to raise at the 1992 competency hearing the issue of appellant's mental illness at the time the assault occurred. We believe that appellant is confusing the issues of competency to stand trial and mental capacity at the time of the act for which a defendant stands trial. There is no requirement that a defendant be competent at the time the alleged crime is committed in order to be competent to stand trial. Because a defendant's competence at the time of a crime is irrelevant to the determination of competence to stand trial, counsel has no reason to raise the defendant's competence at the time of the crime at a hearing on competence to stand trial. There is no indication in this record that appellant was unable to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of mental illness, despite having been found competent to stand trial.
Appellant also argues that his trial counsel failed to investigate appellant's mental competency at the time of the assault, but fails to show that further investigation would have discovered significant exculpatory evidence. See Crisler, 520 N.W.2d at 26. The record indicates that appellant's trial counsel reviewed appellant's psychological records and used those records as a basis for seeking a downward departure at sentencing, claiming in effect a diminished responsibility and arguing that appellant lacked a substantial capacity for judgment at the time of the assault. Trial counsel also presented the testimony of appellant's brother to characterize appellant as mentally ill and an alcohol abuser when the assault occurred.
Appellant merely argues that additional witnesses could have been called. He does not allege any facts indicating that trial counsel failed either to investigate adequately appellant's competency at the time of the incident or to discuss with appellant the continuing availability of a mental illness defense. In view of appellant's initial plea of not guilty by reason of mental illness and the subsequent competency hearing and hospitalization, it is highly unlikely that trial counsel failed to investigate appellant's mental competency. The record is sufficiently developed and the trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to grant an evidentiary hearing on this claim.
2. Prosecutorial misconduct.
We find no merit in appellant's argument that the state grossly exaggerated the victim's injuries to enhance the charges and sentence. This issue was addressed fully and rejected by this court on direct appeal. The supreme court denied review. Appellant is precluded from another review of the severity of the victim's injuries.
Even if appellant's claim had not been resolved on his prior appeal, it is barred. "All matters raised on direct appeal and all claims known but not raised, will not be considered in a subsequent petition for postconviction relief." Roby, 547 N.W.2d at 356. Only where a claim is so novel that it can be said that its legal basis was not reasonably available at the time direct appeal was taken and decided will postconviction relief be allowed. Id. Appellant's claim does not meet the criteria for additional postconviction relief.
[ ]1At the sentencing hearing, the gastrointestinal surgeon who examined the victim in the emergency room testified that the victim was in serious-to-critical condition with multiple trauma caused by multiple blows, that x-rays showed bilateral rib fractures, that the surgeon suspected intra-abdominal trauma because the victim was not alert when first examined, that the victim was in respiratory failure due to punctured lungs, that the condition would have been "life threatening and probably lethal" if medical intervention had not occurred, that the victim suffered kidney failure, that both eyes were swollen shut, and that the victim had lacerations and bruises on her head, neck, chest, back, buttocks, hips, and thighs.
[ ]2Contrary to appellant's allegation of exaggeration, the prosecution in presenting testimony of the attending surgeon informed the district court that the victim did not have a skull fracture, that the victim's kidney failure was not a direct result of appellant's beating, that the victim's larynx was not fractured, and that the victim had not been in a coma.