may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Warren Clare Alexander,
Filed June 1, 1999
Aitkin County District Court
File No. K097480
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Bradley C. Rhodes, Aitkin County Attorney, Courthouse Annex, Aitkin, MN 56431 (for respondent)
Warren Clare Alexander, MCF-Stillwater, 970 Pickett Street North, Bayport, MN 55003-1490 (pro se appellant).
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]
In this pro se appeal Warren Clare Alexander challenges the district courts order denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. We affirm.
Alexander was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder; three counts of first-degree burglary; first-degree assault; and violation of an order for protection. He initially pleaded not guilty but, pursuant to a plea agreement, later pleaded guilty to one count of attempted first-degree murder. He was sentenced to an executed term of 180 months (15 years).
Alexander moved to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that (1) his attorney coerced him into pleading guilty; and (2) the court breached his plea agreement in sentencing him. The district court denied the motion. Five days after the order denying the motion was filed, Alexander filed a supplemental memorandum, arguing that there was an insufficient factual basis for the court to accept his guilty plea.
A district court has discretion in deciding whether to grant a defendant's motion to withdraw a guilty plea, and a reviewing court will not reverse a district court's denial of such a motion absent an abuse of discretion. An appellate court limits its review of a postconviction court to a determination of whether sufficient evidence exists to sustain the postconviction court's findings.
State v. Aviles-Alvarez, 561 N.W.2d 523, 525 (Minn. App. 1997) (citation omitted), review denied (Minn. Mar. 25, 1997).
"Once a guilty plea has been entered, there is no absolute right to withdraw it." Shorter v. State. 511 N.W.2d 743, 746 (Minn. 1994). The district court shall permit a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea following sentencing 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. The petitioner bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the facts warrant withdrawal of the plea. Lundin v. State, 430 N.W.2d 675, 679 (Minn. App. 1988), review denied (Minn. Dec. 21, 1988).
To be valid, a guilty plea must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent. State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 251 (Minn. 1983). If a guilty plea lacks these prerequisites, manifest injustice results, and the plea may be withdrawn. Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 688 (Minn. 1997).
1. Coercion by Attorney
Alexander argues that under State v. Kaiser, 469 N.W.2d 316, 319 (Minn. 1991), he had a right to withdraw his guilty plea because he was coerced by his attorney to plead guilty, and withdrawal of the plea is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. He contends that his attorney told him to plead guilty and receive a sentence of 180 months, or she would just go through the motions, rest without presenting a defense after the state presented its case, and he would receive a 480-month sentence.
The district court found that Alexander's petition to enter a guilty plea and his testimony at the plea hearing included statements that (1) he had sufficient time to discuss his case with his attorney; (2) his attorney had discussed possible defenses that were available; (3) he was satisfied that his attorney had represented his interests and fully advised him of his rights; (4) no one had made any promises to him or threatened him to get him to plead guilty; (5) he had no claim that he was innocent of the crime to which he pleaded guilty; and (6) he was pleading guilty "freely and voluntarily." The district court concluded that the record did not support Alexander's claim of coercion.
The district court's conclusion was essentially a determination that Alexander's claim of coercion was not credible. Because the record supports the district court's findings, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Alexander's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. See State v. Dickerson, 481 N.W.2d 840, 843 (Minn. 1992) (this court defers to the district court's determination on issues of credibility), aff'd, 508 U.S. 366, 113 S. Ct. 2130 (1993); see also State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 718-19 (Minn. 1994) (plea held voluntary where record contradicted defendant's claim of attorney coercion).
2. Breach of Plea Agreement
Alexander argues that he should be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea because he was sentenced to 181 months, rather than the 180 months promised in the plea agreement.
This argument is without merit. In the sentencing transcript, Alexander's sentence is referred to as being 181 months, rather than 180 months. But the district court found, and we agree, that the reference to a 181-month sentence was either a misstatement or a transcription error. The certified record for commitment demonstrates that Alexander was sentenced to a term of 180 months.
3. Lack of Factual Basis to Support Plea
Alexander argues on appeal that his guilty plea was not accurate because the record made at the plea hearing did not contain an adequate factual basis to support the plea. See Beaman v. State, 301 Minn. 180, 183, 221 N.W.2d 698, 700 (1974) (proper factual basis must be established for a guilty plea to be accurate). However, Alexander did not raise this issue in his motion to withdraw his guilty plea or in his argument to the district court at the motion hearing. Alexander first raised this issue in the supplemental memorandum that was filed in the district court five days after the district court filed its order denying Alexander's motion to withdraw his guilty plea.
Because Alexander did not raise this issue in the district court, we will not consider it on appeal. See State v. Packard, 366 N.W.2d 721, 726 (Minn. App. 1985) (even in criminal cases, arguments made for the first time on appeal will not be considered), review denied (Minn. July 17, 1985). Pro se litigants are generally held to the same standards as attorneys. Heinsch v. Lot 27, Block 1 For's Beach, 399 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Minn. App. 1987). The right to represent oneself in a legal proceeding does not entitle a party to modification of procedural rules. Ronay v. Ronay, 369 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. App. 1985).
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by apointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.