may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Anthony Carter, petitioner,
State of Minnesota,
Filed March 2, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 95019702
Michael A. Hatch, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Amy Klobuchar, County Attorney, Donna J. Wolfson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (attorneys for respondent)
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Mulally, Judge.[*]
Appellant Anthony Carter challenges the postconviction court's denial of his petition for relief, alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The postconviction court denied the petition without a hearing, concluding the petition did not allege facts entitling appellant to relief. We affirm.
In May 1998, appellant petitioned for postconviction relief, alleging he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel had impliedly admitted his guilt. The postconviction court denied appellant's petition, ruling appellant could have raised the issue on direct appeal, but did not. The postconviction court also ruled that appellant had failed to allege any facts that would require an evidentiary hearing. Appellant moved for reconsideration, and that motion was also denied. This appeal followed.
Appellant argues he has asserted facts that, if proven, would entitle him to a new trial as a matter of law. Therefore, he contends, the trial court erred in not granting a hearing. Appellant asserts that trial counsel impliedly admitted his guilt in closing argument without his permission.
Generally, in order to obtain a reversal based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a petitioner must prove that counsel's representation was below an objective standard of reasonableness and, but for counsel's errors, the result of the trial would have been different. Gates v. State, 398 N.W.2d 558, 561 (Minn. 1987). But when defense counsel impliedly admits defendant's guilt without permission, defendant is entitled to a new trial without regard to whether there was actual prejudice. State v. Moore, 458 N.W.2d 90, 96 (Minn. 1990); State v. Wiplinger, 343 N.W.2d 858, 861 (Minn. 1984).
Appellant's trial strategy was to argue self-defense. According to appellant, he considered himself to be trapped in the apartment prior to getting the knife from the kitchen. After being attacked and beaten by the victim and another adult male, appellant testified he grabbed the knife in order to protect himself. He testified he initially stabbed the victim in the living room in response to victim's attempt to hit him with a rod. The victim then retreated to the bedroom and attempted to close the door. Appellant recalled that there had been previous mention of a gun and thought the victim may have been going to retrieve it.
Appellant testified he pursued the victim for the purpose of disarming him, although it turned out the victim did not retrieve a gun. The appellant pushed the bedroom door open and the two struggled over the knife until appellant was pulled off the victim and left the apartment. The victim subsequently died.
On cross-examination, the prosecutor attempted to elicit testimony from appellant that he had stabbed the victim several times in the bedroom, to which appellant responded, "I don't know about that." Appellant admitted, however, that he had stabbed the victim a total of five times, one of which occurred in the living room.
In closing, appellant's trial counsel made the following argument:
Now, we heard from Dr. Garry Peterson, who is also an attorney, but he's the head of the Medical Examiner's, the chief medical examiner. What did he testify about? He testified that Terrance Donner was dead. He testified that he died from a loss of blood. He was unable to articulate or tell exactly which stab wound caused the death. We don't know if the first stab wound caused the death when he was being hit with the bar, or we don't know whether or not a stab wound back in the bedroom caused the death. We just simply don't know. He did testify, and I don't know if I'm quoting him correctly, that possibly a patient could have survived from any one of the wounds individually.
Appellant's postconviction argument is that by alluding to stab wounds inflicted in the bedroom, trial counsel undermined the self-defense argument and thereby impliedly admitted appellant's guilt. Appellant ignores the fact that his own testimony necessarily implied he stabbed the victim four times in the bedroom. Trial counsel's complained of statement was simply an argument in furtherance of preserving the self-defense claim in light of appellant's implied admission. Trial counsel reasonably argued that the first stab wound, arguably inflicted in self-defense, might have been the actual cause of the victim's death.
We therefore conclude that trial counsel did not impliedly admit appellant's guilt. If anything, appellant's own testimony implied his guilt. Appellant has not alleged a material fact that, if proven, would entitle him to a new trial. See Roby, 547 N.W.2d at 356. We therefore affirm the postconviction court's denial of an evidentiary hearing.
Furthermore, postconviction ineffective assistance of counsel claims are normally precluded if known at the time of direct appeal. Black v. State, 560 N.W.2d 83, 85 (Minn. 1997). There is an exception to this rule, however, where the nature of the claim is such that the reviewing court needs additional facts to explain the trial attorney's decisions. Id. at 85 n.1; Russell v. State, 562 N.W.2d 670, 673 (Minn. 1997). Appellant concedes that the legal basis of his postconviction claim was reasonably available at the time of his direct appeal, but argues that additional facts must be gathered in order to determine whether appellant consented or acquiesced to trial counsel's implied admission of appellant's guilt.
We have determined that trial counsel did not impliedly admit appellant's guilt. Therefore, no facts are necessary to explain trial counsel's decisions. Appellant's petition does not fit within the exception to the preclusion rule. See Black, 560 N.W.2d at 85 (determining no additional facts required to explain attorney's decisions and refusing to consider postconviction ineffective assistance of counsel claim). As a result, we also affirm the postconviction court's decision that appellant's claim was precluded.
[*] Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.