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Michael Calvin Francis, Petitioner v. Office of Appellate Courts

April 24, 2013

MICHAEL CALVIN FRANCIS, PETITIONER, APPELLANT,
v.
OFFICE OF APPELLATE COURTS STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

SYLLABUS Petitioner's untimely petition for post-conviction relief was properly denied when it did not satisfy the requirements of the exception under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(b)(5) (2012), to the two-year time limit for filing a petition.

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

Hennepin County Wright, J.

Affirmed.

Considered and decided by the court without oral argument.

OPINION

Michael Calvin Francis seeks post-conviction relief from his convictions arising from the shooting of M.P. and the death of P.R. The post-conviction court summarily denied Francis's petition on the ground that the petition is time barred under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(a) (2012), because Francis failed to satisfy the newly-discovered-evidence exception in Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(b)(2) (2012). Alternatively, the district court denied the petition as barred under State v. Knaffla, 309 Minn. 246, 252, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976). We affirm because the petition is time barred under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(a)(2), and it fails to satisfy an exception to the two-year limitations period for filing a post-conviction petition.

On the evening of May 24, 2004, M.P. and his girlfriend, P.R., were shot by the driver of a blue Chevrolet Tahoe.*fn1 P.R. suffered a single gunshot wound to the head and died a few hours after the shooting. M.P. survived the shooting and later identified Francis as the shooter. After police gathered additional evidence linking Francis to the crime, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Francis with first-degree premeditated murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(1) (2012), first-degree intentional drive-by shooting murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(3) (2012), attempted first-degree premeditated murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.17, subd. 1 (2012), and attempted first-degree intentional drive-by shooting murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.17, subd. 1. The racial composition of the grand jury that indicted Francis was entirely white.

The case proceeded to trial, and the State offered a substantial amount of evidence that Francis was the shooter, including M.P.'s identification of Francis. Francis testified at trial and denied that he shot M.P. or P.R. The jury returned a guilty verdict on each of the charged offenses. The district court subsequently convicted Francis and imposed a sentence of 180 months' imprisonment for the attempted first-degree premeditated murder of M.P. and a consecutive mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for the first-degree premeditated murder of P.R. See Francis I, 729 N.W.2d at 589.

Francis filed a direct appeal on February 1, 2005, through appointed appellate counsel. After his appellate brief was filed, Francis discharged his appellate counsel. We granted Francis's motion to proceed pro se and stayed his direct appeal to allow Francis to pursue post-conviction relief. In his first petition for post-conviction relief, Francis raised numerous claims of error. The post-conviction court denied Francis's petition without a hearing, concluding that his claims lacked merit. Francis appealed the denial of his first post-conviction petition, after which we vacated the stay of his direct appeal and consolidated the appeals. We affirmed Francis's convictions and the denial of his first petition for post-conviction relief on April 5, 2007. See Francis I, 729 N.W.2d at 593.

Francis subsequently retained counsel and filed a second petition for post-conviction relief on April 3, 2009. The post-conviction court summarily denied Francis's petition, holding that his claims were procedurally barred. Francis appealed.

We affirmed the denial of Francis's second petition for post-conviction relief on May 13, 2010. Francis v. State (Francis II), 781 N.W.2d 892, 898 (Minn. 2010).*fn2

Almost two years later, on February 10, 2012, Francis filed a third petition for post-conviction relief, which is now before us.*fn3 In this petition and supportive memorandum, Francis argued that the grand jury selection process in Hennepin County violated his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law. U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, which rejected a similar challenge that Francis raised in his federal habeas petition, summarized grand jury selection in Hennepin County as follows:

Each year approximately 40,000 names are randomly generated by computer from the master source list, which does not contain any race information, to create the master juror list for that year. . . . One hundred and twenty-five prospective grand jurors are randomly selected by computer from the master list three times a year, and they are summoned and issued a questionnaire which includes a race identification question. After excusals are granted and disqualifications are determined, the first thirty people on the list who have not been excused or disqualified are informed that they must appear for grand ...


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