Anoka County District Court File No. 02K291010262.
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Michael W. Kunkel, Assistant State Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant).
Lori A. Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Anthony C. Palumbo, Anoka County Attorney, Robert D. Goodell, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka, Minnesota (for respondent).
Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.
In this postconviction appeal, appellant argues that the district court erred by concluding that his petition to withdraw his 1991 guilty plea was time-barred under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(a) (2012), and that he failed to establish that any of the statutory exceptions were applicable. We affirm.
In September 1991, appellant Belford William Reitz, III was charged with one count of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.343, subd. 1(g) (1990). Appellant subsequently pleaded guilty to an amended charge of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.345, subd. 1(f) (1990). In providing a factual basis for the guilty plea, appellant acknowledged that he was 18 years old at the time of the offense, that he had a significant relationship with the victim, and that the victim was either 14 or 15 years old at the time of the offense. The district court accepted appellant's guilty plea, stayed imposition of the sentence, and placed appellant on probation for ten years. Appellant did not file a direct appeal.
In 2012, appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief seeking to withdraw his 1991 guilty plea to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct on the basis that the plea was inadequate and inaccurate. Specifically, appellant claimed that the factual basis for his guilty plea was inaccurate because the victim was under the age of 16 when he sexually abused her, but in order to be found guilty of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct under section 609.345, subdivision 1(f), the victim must have been between the ages of 16 and 18 years of age. The district court found that appellant's petition was time-barred under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(a) (2012), and that he failed to establish that any of the statutory exceptions contained in subdivision 4(b) of that section apply to his case. Thus, the district court denied appellant's petition for postconviction relief. This appeal followed.
When reviewing a postconviction court's decision, we examine only whether the postconviction court's findings are supported by sufficient evidence. Lussier v. State, 821 N.W.2d 581, 588 (Minn. 2012). This court "will reverse a decision of a postconviction court only if that court abused its discretion." Leake v. State, 737 N.W.2d 531, 535 (Minn. 2007). But we review issues of law de novo. Id.
When direct appellate relief is not available, a person convicted of a crime "'may commence a proceeding to secure relief by filing a petition in the district court' for postconviction relief." Rickert v. State, 795 N.W.2d 236, 239 (Minn. 2011) (quoting Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1 (2010)). But "[n]o petition for postconviction relief may be filed more than two years after the later of: (1) the entry of judgment of conviction or sentence if no direct appeal is filed; or (2) an appellate court's disposition of petitioner's direct appeal." Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(a) (2012). Therefore, unless one of the exceptions in Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(b) (2012), applies, a petition for postconviction relief filed after the two-year statute of limitations has run is generally time-barred. Francis v. State, 829 N.W.2d 415, 419 (Minn. 2013).
Here, appellant concedes that his postconviction petition was "filed more than 20 years after entry of the judgment of conviction." But appellant contends that he is entitled to consideration of his petition on the merits under the interests-of-justice ...