Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-09-2426
Adrian Lamont Patterson, Bayport, Minnesota (pro se appellant)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Jean Burdorf, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Schellhas, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
Following his convictions of second-degree unintentional murder and drive-by shooting, appellant challenges the district court's summary denial of his petition for postconviction relief, arguing that he was deprived of his right to an impartial tribunal because the district court displayed judicial bias by instructing the jury sua sponte on lesser-included offenses and that he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. Because each of appellant's claims is barred under State v. Knaffla, 309 Minn. 246, 243 N.W.2d 737 (1976), or lacks merit, we affirm.
During a 2003 drive-by shooting, R.A. was killed when he was shot by a person in a white car. In 2008, when police learned additional information about the shooting, L.P. and appellant Adrian Patterson, the occupants of the white car, were indicted on two counts each of first-degree murder relating to R.A.'s death and attempted first-degree murder relating to R.A.'s surviving passenger. L.P. pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder and agreed to testify against appellant in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Before appellant's jury trial, the state moved to disqualify his first attorney, Eric Newmark, based on a conflict of interest because Newmark had previously represented several of the state's witnesses in relation to R.A.'s murder. Appellant waived his right to a conflict-free lawyer, but the district court granted the motion to disqualify. Appellant's second attorney withdrew from the case for reasons related to the dissolution of his law firm. Appellant then hired attorney Barry Voss, who had represented L.P. as a defendant in a case related to R.A.'s murder. The state moved to disqualify Voss, arguing that he had a conflict of interest based on that representation, but appellant agreed to waive his right to a conflict-free attorney. L.P. stated that he did not object to Voss representing appellant as long as Voss retained an independent attorney to cross-examine him at appellant's trial. The district court denied the motion to disqualify.
At appellant's jury trial, several witnesses, including L.P., identified appellant as the passenger in the white car who fired the shots that killed R.A. The defense's theory of the case was that the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant was the person who shot R.A. The district court sua sponte instructed the jury on lesser-included offenses: with respect to R.A.'s death, second-degree intentional murder and second-degree unintentional murder while committing a drive-by shooting; and with respect to R.A.'s surviving passenger, attempted second-degree intentional murder and drive-by shooting. The jury found appellant guilty of second-degree unintentional murder during a drive-by shooting relating to R.A.'s death, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1(2) (2002), and drive-by shooting relating to R.A.'s passenger, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.66, subd. 1e(e lesser-included-offense instructions. The district courb) (2002).
At sentencing, appellant's attorney objected to the district court's decision to givt stated,
[O]n the issue of the lesser includeds, in my judgment, it was in the public interest to have this jury decide whether or not Mr. Patterson was involved with this crime. . . . I think we needed to have a trial that told us whether or not the state proved that [he] was involved in this crime and their theory [was that] he was the shooter. Once that decision gets made, then the jury is in the position to tell us whether or not the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it was premeditated or intentional or not. . . . I just don't think it was in the public interest and fair to do this roll the dice that if it's not premeditated or not intentional killing, then you walk, even though it's clearly a drive-by shooting where somebody died. So that's why I gave the lesser.
The district court sentenced appellant to concurrent sentences of 48 months for the drive-by shooting and 326 months for the ...