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Mckenzie v. State

May 11, 2006

MWATI P. MCKENZIE, PETITIONER, APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Post-conviction court properly denied petitioner's fifth petition for post-conviction relief because Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), does not apply retroactively to petitioner, and further, petitioner's mandatory life sentence does not violate the rule of Blakely.

Petitioner's claim that the Department of Corrections violated his due process rights when it withheld money from his wages for the Crime Victims Reparations Board fails because it was improper to bring the claim in a petition for post-conviction relief.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anderson, Paul H. Justice

Affirmed.

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

OPINION

Petitioner Mwati Pepi Mckenzie appeals the denial of his fifth petition for post-conviction relief by alleging two claims of error: (1) his sentence was imposed in violation of Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004); and (2) the Department of Corrections' withholding of inmate wages for contribution to the Crime Victims Reparations Board violates due process. We affirm the post-conviction court's denial of Mckenzie's petition.

On October 23, 1993, petitioner Mwati Pepi Mckenzie was convicted in Hennepin County District Court of first-degree murder of a peace officer for the shooting death of Minneapolis Police Officer Jerry Haaf. State v. Mckenzie, 532 N.W.2d 210, 213 (Minn. 1995). The district court imposed the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. Id.; Minn. Stat. § 609.185 (1992). Mckenzie appealed his conviction and we affirmed. Id. Our opinion affirming the conviction in response to Mckenzie's direct appeal provides a comprehensive statement of the facts of this case. Id. at 213-17. Mckenzie subsequently filed four petitions for post-conviction relief, all of which were denied by the post-conviction court. See Mckenzie v. State, 707 N.W.2d 643, 644 (Minn. 2005). Mckenzie appealed the denial of three of his post-conviction petitions, and we ultimately affirmed the denial of all three petitions. See id.

On June 6, 2005, Mckenzie filed his fifth petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that (1) his sentence was imposed in violation of Blakely; and (2) the Department of Corrections' withholding of inmate wages for contribution to the Crime Victims Reparations Board violates due process. The post-conviction court denied this fifth petition for relief, concluding that (1) Blakely did not apply retroactively to Mckenzie's case, and regardless, Mckenzie's mandatory life sentence did not violate the rule of Blakely; and (2) the authority of the Department of Corrections to withhold inmate earnings for contribution to the Crime Victims Reparations Board is not properly raised in a post-conviction petition. Mckenzie now appeals the two issues raised in his fifth post-conviction petition.

I.

A defendant may 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). Review of a post-conviction proceeding is limited to determining whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain the post-conviction court's findings, and a post-conviction court's decision will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion. Zenanko v. State, 587 N.W.2d 642, 644 (Minn. 1998).

We first address Mckenzie's argument that he is entitled to relief under Blakely because the jury that convicted him was not asked to make a specific finding beyond a reasonable doubt whether he used a firearm in the commission of the crime. The post-conviction court denied relief on this claim, concluding that Mckenzie's sentence did not violate the rule of Blakely and that Blakely does not apply retroactively to Mckenzie's case.

We have previously concluded that Blakely announced a new rule of constitutional criminal procedure. State v. Houston, 702 N.W.2d 268, 273 (Minn. 2005). New rules of constitutional criminal procedure apply retroactively to cases pending on direct review at the time the new rule is announced. O'Meara v. State, 679 N.W.2d 334, 339 (Minn. 2004). A case is "pending" until the availability of appeal has been exhausted and the time for filing a petition for certiorari with the United States Supreme Court has ended or a certiorari petition has been denied. Id. We affirmed Mckenzie's conviction on May 19, 1995, and the time for filing a certiorari petition ended 90 days later. Mckenzie, 532 N.W.2d at 210, 213; Sup. Ct. R. 13.1. Accordingly, Mckenzie's case was not pending on direct review when Blakely was decided in 2004 and the rule of Blakely does not apply retroactively to Mckenzie's case.

Furthermore, even if Blakely did apply retroactively to Mckenzie's case, the Blakely rule was not implicated by Mckenzie's mandatory life sentence. The rule established by the Blakely line of cases is that other than a prior conviction, any fact that is necessary to support a sentence exceeding the maximum authorized by the facts established by a plea of guilty or a jury verdict must be admitted to by the defendant or proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. United States v. Booker, 543 ...


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