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Nelson v. State

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

November 12, 2013

Emmett Maurice Nelson, petitioner, Appellant,
v.
State of Minnesota, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-06-012464

Cathryn Middlebrook, Interim Chief Appellate Public Defender, Anders J. Erickson, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda M. Freyer, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Cleary, Chief Judge; Kirk, Judge; and Smith, Judge.

KIRK, Judge

In this postconviction appeal seeking to withdraw his guilty plea to first-degree criminal sexual conduct, appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by (1) determining that appellant's petition for postconviction relief was time barred, and (2)finding that appellant did not demonstrate a manifest injustice warranting withdrawal of his guilty plea. In a pro se supplemental brief, appellant argues that a DNA test established that he is not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. Because we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that appellant's postconviction petition was time barred, we affirm.

DECISION

On review of a postconviction decision, this court "examine[s] only whether the [district] court's findings are supported by sufficient evidence." Leake v. State, 737 N.W.2d 531, 535 (Minn. 2007). This court will reverse a postconviction court's decision if the court abused its discretion. Id. We review issues of law de novo. Id.

I. The district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that appellant's petition for postconviction relief was time barred.

Generally, an individual must file a petition for postconviction relief within two years 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). But a district court may consider an otherwise untimely postconviction petition if a statutorily provided exception applies. Id., subd. 4(b) (2012) (providing five exceptions to the two-year time bar).

Appellant concedes that his petition for postconviction relief was not filed within two years of the entry of judgment of conviction, but he contends that the interests-of-justice exception to the time bar applies. To satisfy that exception, appellant must demonstrate that his postconviction petition "is not frivolous and is in the interests of justice." Id., subd. 4(b)(5). In addition, a postconviction petition that invokes an exception under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(b), "must be filed within two years of the date the claim arises." Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(c) (2012). "[A] petitioner's claim under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(b)(5), arises when the petitioner knew or should have known that he had a claim." Sanchez v. State, 816 N.W.2d 550, 560 (Minn. 2012). This is an objective standard. Id. at 558.

Appellant argues that he did not know or have reason to know that he had a claim until he received paralegal training in prison. Appellant contends that because there is nothing in the record that indicates his claim arose on a specific date, the date that he filed his pro se postconviction petition should be considered the date that his claim arose. In contrast, the state argues that appellant's claim arose in August 2006 when he entered his guilty plea.

We are not persuaded by appellant's argument. The fact that appellant learned more about the law after he entered his plea is irrelevant to determining when his claim arose. Applying an objective standard, appellant knew or should have known at the time he pleaded guilty whether he had a claim. The record establishes that appellant was represented by counsel and he discussed the plea agreement with his counsel. Appellant also signed a petition to enter a guilty plea, which required him to acknowledge that he understood he could challenge the state's evidence at a pretrial hearing but that he was waiving that right, and his counsel reviewed the plea ...


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