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McDonough v. State

February 19, 2004

WILLIAM JEFFREY MCDONOUGH, PETITIONER, APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The post-conviction court did not abuse its discretion in denying amended petition for post-conviction relief without a hearing when the issues raised in the petition were unsupported by any factual basis and barred by Knaffla.

Affirmed.

Considered and decided by the court en banc without oral argument.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Meyer, Justice.

OPINION

Appellant William Jeffrey McDonough challenges the post-conviction court's denial of a hearing on his amended petition for post-conviction relief. We affirm the post-conviction court.

On April 17, 2000, a jury found McDonough guilty of the first-degree murder of Reginald Rogers and the attempted first-degree murder of Steven Crenshaw. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the first-degree murder and 180 months imprisonment for the attempted first-degree murder, to be served consecutively. The facts of the murder, attempted murder, and subsequent jury trial are set forth in detail in State v. McDonough, 631 N.W.2d 373, 379-83 (Minn. 2001), and need not be revisited here.

McDonough appealed his convictions. Of the numerous arguments McDonough made in his direct appeal, two are relevant to the instant case: first, the district court erred by not dismissing the indictment; and, second, the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdicts. Id. at 386-87, 389-90. We affirmed his convictions.*fn1 Id. at 391.

On September 12, 2002, McDonough filed a petition for post-conviction relief and raised numerous issues including a claim that evidence was withheld before the grand jury and a claim that he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. On January 31, 2003, the post-conviction court denied McDonough's request for an evidentiary hearing and denied his motion for post-conviction relief. McDonough did not appeal the denial of this petition.

On April 7, 2003, McDonough filed a second petition for post-conviction relief.*fn2 In that petition, McDonough raised three issues: (1) that he is actually innocent (in other words the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction); (2) that he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel on direct appeal because appellate counsel "would not challenge the ineffective assistance of trial counsel on post-conviction, instead of taking the direct appeal"; and (3) that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the grand jury. The post-conviction court denied the petition without a hearing. On appeal to this court, McDonough contends that the post-conviction court erred because it denied his request for an evidentiary hearing and it denied relief on his ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim.

The issue we must consider is whether the post-conviction court abused its discretion in summarily denying McDonough's petition for post-conviction relief. "On appeal from a summary denial of post-conviction relief, we examine whether sufficient evidence exists to support the post-conviction court's findings and will reverse those findings only upon proof that the post-conviction court abused its discretion." Ives v. State, 655 N.W.2d 633, 635 (Minn. 2003).

A post-conviction court must grant a hearing on a motion for post-conviction relief "unless the petition and the files and records of the proceeding conclusively show that the petitioner is entitled to no relief." Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 1 (2002). However, a post-conviction court "may summarily deny a petition when the issues raised in it have previously been decided by the court of appeals or the supreme court in the same case." Id., subd. 3. Additionally, once a direct appeal has been taken "all matters raised therein, and all claims known but not raised, will not be considered upon a subsequent petition for post-conviction relief." State v. Knaffla, 309 Minn. 246, 252, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976). We have recognized several instances when Knaffla will not bar a claim that was previously raised or should have been raised. A post-conviction court may consider a claim that was known but was not raised on direct appeal if the claim is so novel that its legal basis was not reasonably available at the time of the direct appeal, or if the interests of justice require relief. Ives, 655 N.W.2d at 636. A post-conviction court also may consider an ineffective assistance of counsel claim if the claim requires additional fact finding by the court. Id.

In his amended petition, McDonough makes unsupported claims that the evidence was insufficient to convict (he is innocent), and exculpatory evidence was withheld from the grand jury. McDonough raised both of these issues on direct appeal and we decided both issues adversely to him. McDonough, 631 N.W.2d at 386-87, 390. Therefore, we hold the post-conviction court did not abuse its discretion in denying a hearing on these claims because the claims had previously been decided by this court in the same case. Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 3; see also Knaffla, 309 Minn. at 252, 243 N.W.2d at 741.

The other claim we must consider is McDonough's assertion that he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel because appellate counsel failed to argue that trial counsel was ineffective. McDonough argues that the post-conviction court erred in denying him a hearing and that a ...


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