may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Steven Hendricks Blondheim, petitioner,
State of Minnesota,
Filed April 20, 1999
Olmsted County District Court
File Nos. T5961343, K796520
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Raymond F. Schmitz, Olmsted County Attorney, David S. Voigt, Assistant County Attorney, 151 Southeast Fourth Street, Rochester, MN 55904-3710 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.
Appellant Steven Hendricks Blondheim appeals the court's denial of postconviction relief for two separate convictions. The district court did not abuse its discretion by denying his request to withdraw his guilty pleas. We affirm.
Blondheim was charged on February 19, 1996, with violating an order for protection under Minn. Stat. § 609.748, subd. 6 (1996). He pleaded guilty to the protection order violation on April 15, 1996. He was sentenced to 90 days with credit for time served. He filed a petition for postconviction relief on May 1, 1998, and on June 16, 1998, it was denied. Blondheim appeals.
Blondheim was charged on February 20, 1996, with four counts of criminal sexual conduct under Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(a) and 1(h)(iii) (1996). He entered a guilty plea on September 4, 1996, to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and the rest of the charges were dismissed. He moved to withdraw his guilty plea a few weeks later. The district court denied the motion. He was sentenced to 78 months, a $12,000 mandatory fine, $700 restitution, and five years of conditional release. Blondheim petitioned for postconviction relief and that also was denied.
Blondheim appealed his conviction for criminal sexual conduct on the grounds that the district court coerced his plea and imposed a fee contrary to the plea agreement and that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. Blondheim v. State, No. C7-97-974 (Minn. App. Dec. 9, 1997). This court reversed the district court and allowed Blondheim to withdraw his plea based on the fee imposed but did not reach the other issues. Id. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the order of the district court denying postconviction relief. Blondheim v. State, No. C7-97-974 (Minn. Feb. 19, 1998) (order opinion). Blondheim filed another petition for postconviction relief on June 26, 1998, which was denied. Blondheim appeals.
This court reviews a postconviction proceeding only to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain the postconviction court's findings. Scruggs v. State, 484 N.W.2d 21, 25 (Minn. 1992). The postconviction court's decision will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion. Id.
1. Blondheim claims the district court should not have accepted his guilty plea on the charge of violating the protection order and that the postconviction court abused its discretion by finding that he failed to show he had received ineffective assistance of counsel. An appellate court will reject a guilty plea if it concludes the trial judge could not have concluded that the defendant's plea was accurate. State v. Warren, 419 N.W.2d 795, 798 (Minn. 1988).
Blondheim claims that he was "passive, naïve, [and] trusting" at the plea hearing. But he articulated to the judge that he was guilty because he made phone calls to the complainant in violation of the protection order. Blondheim admitted he knew he was not to have this contact with the complainant. The district court had good reason to conclude Blondheim's plea was accurate and informed. We find no reason to reject the guilty plea on this ground.
Blondheim also claims he was denied effective assistance of counsel. When a defendant claims ineffective assistance of counsel, he or she must affirmatively show that 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." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688, 694 S. Ct. 2052, 2064, 2068 (1984) quoted in Gates v. State, 398 N.W.2d 558, 561 (Minn. 1987). "A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Id.
Blondheim's allegations are not substantiated in the record. He has failed to allege facts that, if true, would show that his attorney's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion by denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea on the ground of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Though Blondheim does not raise the issue on appeal, his petition did request a hearing and the request was denied. A postconviction court will normally grant a hearing unless the allegations are no more than argumentative assertions without factual support. Roby v. State, 547 N.W.2d 354, 356 (Minn. 1996). The allegations must be such that, if proved would warrant the requested relief. Id. Blondheim does not allege any facts that would warrant the requested relief if proved. We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Blondheim a hearing.
2. Blondheim also appeals the denial of postconviction relief in his criminal sexual conduct conviction. He asks to withdraw his guilty plea based on an unauthorized plea agreement involving the five-year supervised release that was part of his sentence.
The ultimate decision to allow a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea is left to the sound discretion of the district court, and it will be reversed only in the rare case in which the appellate court can fairly conclude that the district court abused its discretion. Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989). The conditional release was part of the original sentence that Blondheim acknowledged. Furthermore, he did not object at his sentencing hearing. He has failed to raise sufficient facts to substantiate this claim.
Blondheim's petition for postconviction relief requested a hearing on his allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel and a coerced plea. As previously noted, a postconviction court will normally grant the hearing unless the allegations are no more than argumentative assertions without factual support. Roby, 547 N.W.2d at 356. The allegations must be such that, if proved, would warrant the requested relief. Id. In this case, Blondheim's assertions in his petition regarding a coerced plea were no more than argumentative assertions without factual support. Nothing in the record supports his allegations.
Blondheim's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel raises similar problems. His allegation fails to raise sufficient facts to substantiate his claim. Furthermore, Blondheim testified under oath that he was "definitely" satisfied with his counsel. See Gates, 398 N.W.2d at 561 (defendant must show counsel's representation fell below objective standard and reasonable probability that outcome would have been different but for counsel's errors). The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Blondheim a hearing on his petition.