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Carney v. State

March 10, 2005

MARK CARNEY, PETITIONER, APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT.



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

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The post-conviction court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that the petitioner's ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim was procedurally barred under State v. Knaffla, 309 Minn. 246, 243 N.W.2d 737 (1976), and that even if petitioner's ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim had not been procedurally barred by Knaffla, it failed on its merits.

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

Affirmed.

OPINION

Appellant Mark Carney appeals from a summary denial of his petition for post-conviction relief alleging, inter alia, that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel because his lawyer did not adequately investigate his mental health history and failed to present medical evidence at trial that may have supported Carney's heat of passion defense and mitigated the element of premeditation. The post-conviction court summarily denied Carney's petition on the ground that his claims were procedurally barred under State v. Knaffla, 309 Minn. 246, 243 N.W.2d 737 (1976). The post-conviction court further stated that even if Carney's ineffective assistance of counsel claim was not procedurally barred, it failed on the merits. We affirm the post-conviction court's denial of relief.

The facts of this case are fully detailed in the opinion that we issued in response to Carney's direct appeal. State v. Carney, 649 N.W.2d 455, 456-60 (Minn. 2002). The following summary provides context for the issues Carney raises in this appeal. In August 2000, Mark Carney was indicted for the first-degree premeditated murder of John Voeller. At the time of the murder, Carney believed that Voeller was having an affair with his wife. In February 2001, Carney was tried before a Crow Wing County jury and found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder under Minn. Stat. § 609.185(1) (2004) and sentenced to life in prison.

Before trial, Carney's counsel consulted with Dr. Todd Johnson, a doctor of pharmacy, who researched the drug Zoloft and reviewed Carney's medical records. Johnson then submitted a memorandum to Carney's counsel stating that in his professional opinion "it would be difficult to attribute Mr. Carney's behavior to an adverse consequence of his Zoloft therapy." At trial, Carney testified that in the spring of 1999 he experienced a loss of motivation and had trouble concentrating. After talking with his wife, he saw a physician and received a prescription for the anti-depressant Zoloft, which he stopped taking after three days.

Carney testified that in May 2000 his marriage had grown increasingly troubled, and that he again saw his doctor who prescribed the anti-depressant Wellbutrin, which he began to take. One month later, Carney was taken to the hospital by his parents after he threatened to kill himself. He checked himself out the next day. Shortly thereafter, Carney returned to his physician and received a second prescription for Zoloft, which he was taking at the time of the shooting. Although Carney testified at trial that he had taken Zoloft for three days the previous year, he did not testify that he was taking Zoloft at the time of the shooting. Rather, he testified only that he had "changed" his medication after he spent the night at the hospital.

During his testimony, Carney admitted that he shot Voeller, but claimed that he acted in the heat of passion and without premeditation, and requested a heat of passion manslaughter instruction. Id. at 459-60. The district court denied this request and Carney was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. Id. On direct appeal Carney argued that the district court erred in denying his request for a heat of passion manslaughter instruction. Id. at 460. We affirmed his conviction, holding, inter alia, that the district court did not err in refusing to submit a heat of passion manslaughter instruction. Id. at 462-63.

Carney then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his lawyer did not adequately investigate his mental health history, and thus failed to present medical evidence that would have negated the element of premeditation and supported Carney's heat of passion defense. Relying on Knaffla, 309 Minn. at 246, 243 N.W.2d at 737, the post-conviction court held that, because Carney knew of the claims at the time of his direct appeal but failed to bring those claims, and because no additional factfinding was required, his claims were procedurally barred. The post-conviction court further noted that had Carney's claims not been barred under Knaffla, they would have nonetheless failed on the merits.

Because claims of ineffective assistance of counsel involve mixed questions of law and fact, we review post-conviction court decisions regarding such claims de novo. Opsahl v. State, 677 N.W.2d 414, 420 (Minn. 2004). A defendant is permitted to seek post-conviction relief "to vacate and set aside the judgment * * * or grant a new trial * * * or make other disposition as may be appropriate." Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1 (2004). The petitioner bears the burden of establishing the facts alleged in the petition by a fair preponderance of the evidence. Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 3; McKenzie v. State, 687 N.W.2d 902, 905 (Minn. 2004). A district court must grant an evidentiary hearing for any post-conviction petition filed, unless the issues raised in the petition conclusively show that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 1; Roby v. State, 531 N.W.2d 482, 483 (Minn. 1995).

When a direct appeal has been taken and litigated before this court, all matters raised during that appeal and all claims known but not raised by the defendant will not be considered upon a subsequent petition for post-conviction relief. Ives v. State, 655 N.W.2d 633, 635 (Minn. 2003) (citing Knaffla, 309 Minn. at 252, 243 N.W.2d at 741) ("Knaffla rule"). This court has established two exceptions to the Knaffla rule: 1) where a claim is so novel that the legal basis was not available on direct appeal, or 2) where the petitioner did not "deliberately and inexcusably" fail to raise the claim on direct appeal and fairness requires its consideration. Dukes v. State, 621 N.W.2d 246, 251 (Minn. 2001).

In this case, it is not disputed that at the time of his direct appeal Carney was aware of the strategy his counsel pursued at trial, including what evidence had been presented to the jury and what evidence had been withheld. Thus, Carney's ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim is Knaffla-barredunless ...


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