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Thompson v. State

February 10, 2005

DALLAS LEE THOMPSON, PETITIONER, APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Appellant's claims are procedurally barred under State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737 (1976).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anderson, G. Barry, Justice.

Affirmed.

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

OPINION

Dallas Lee Thompson was found guilty of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(1) (2004); and two counts of first-degree murder while committing a burglary, Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(3) (2004), for the 1995 shooting deaths of Michelle Eardley and her mother, Susan Eardley. The underlying facts can be found at State v. Thompson, 578 N.W.2d 734 (Minn. 1998). The district court imposed a sentence of two consecutive life terms. Id. at 739. On direct appeal, we affirmed Thompson's conviction and sentence. Id. at 743. Thompson appeals from the order of the post-conviction court denying without a hearing his petition for post-conviction relief. Because all of the issues raised in this petition could have been raised in Thompson's direct appeal, we affirm.

On February 5, 2004, Thompson, representing himself, filed for post-conviction relief.*fn1 The district court denied Thompson's petition without a hearing stating that the "files and records of the proceedings conclusively show that petitioner is entitled to no relief." Thompson appealed to our court.*fn2

In this post-conviction appeal, Thompson raises two issues: First, he contends that the statutes under which he was sentenced did not contain either the enacting clause or the title required by the Minnesota Constitution. Thompson therefore argues that the statutes were null and void and that there was no crime for him to commit. Second, Thompson claims that the gold-fringed United States and Minnesota flags present in the courtroom when he was tried were military flags that suspended "the State Constitution and the judge's 'Oath of Office.'" He therefore contends that the judge had no authority to sentence him because the judge was "merely an actor in a black robe."

We review a post-conviction court's rulings under an abuse of discretion standard. Henderson v. State, 675 N.W.2d 318, 322 (Minn. 2004). On issues of law, we review the post-conviction court's conclusions de novo. Butala v. State, 664 N.W.2d 333, 338 (Minn. 2003). Once a defendant has directly appealed a conviction, we will not consider in a subsequent post-conviction proceeding any matters that were raised in that appeal or were known at the time of that appeal. State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976).

Two exceptions to Knaffla allow for post-conviction relief despite the fact that the claims could have been raised on direct appeal: (1) where a novel legal issue that was not reasonably available to petitioner at the time of the direct appeal is presented; or (2) where the interests of fairness and justice require relief. Washington v. State, 675 N.W.2d 628, 630 (Minn. 2004). When fairness so requires, the petitioner must not have "deliberately and inexcusably" failed to raise the issue on direct appeal. Greer v. State, 673 N.W.2d 151, 155 (Minn. 2004). Claims decided in the interests of justice also require that the claims have substantive merit. King v. State, 649 N.W.2d 149, 157 (Minn. 2002).

Thompson does not argue that the exceptions to Knaffla apply to either of the issues he raises. Thompson does not claim that he did not know or could not have known about the fringe on the flags at the time of the direct appeal. Similarly, whether Minn. Stat. §§ 609.185(a)(1) and 609.185(a)(3) (1994) were enacted with a proper enacting clause and title could have been easily determined and raised at the time of Thompson's direct appeal.*fn3 We conclude that Thompson's claims are barred by the rule in Knaffla.

Because we conclude that Thompson's claims are barred by our decision in Knaffla, we also conclude that the post-conviction court did not abuse its discretion in denying Thompson's petition.

...


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