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Dikken v. State

Supreme Court of Minnesota

June 21, 2017

Andrew Joseph Dikken, Appellant,
v.
State of Minnesota, Respondent.

         Office of Appellate Courts Yellow Medicine County

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Veronica May Surges, Assistant State Public Defender, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Edwin W. Stockmeyer, Assistant Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Keith Helgeson, Yellow Medicine County Attorney, Granite Falls, Minnesota, for respondent.

         SYLLABUS

         The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the appellant's request to withdraw his guilty plea. Affirmed.

          OPINION

          STRAS, Justice.

         This case requires us to determine whether an allegedly erroneous ruling by the district court entitles appellant Andrew Joseph Dikken to withdraw his guilty plea to first-degree-murder charges. Because the district court's alleged error-the rejection of Dikken's earlier unconditional guilty plea to second-degree-murder charges-does not give rise to a manifest injustice entitling Dikken to withdraw his plea, we affirm the postconviction court's decision to deny relief without holding an evidentiary hearing.

         FACTS

         Dikken shot and killed two people, including his ex-girlfriend, after breaking into her home. After Dikken surrendered to the authorities, the State of Minnesota charged him with two counts of second-degree intentional murder. Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1(1) (2016). During his second appearance in court-a hearing required by Minn. R. Crim. P. 8-Dikken did not seek to enter a plea, nor did the State provide notice of its intent to seek an indictment. Accordingly, Dikken was not arraigned at that time, and the district court scheduled the next hearing, an omnibus hearing under Minn. R. Crim. P. 11, for approximately 2 months later.

         Before the omnibus hearing, Dikken filed a petition to plead guilty to both second-degree-murder counts. The district court then held a guilty-plea hearing. Right before the hearing, the State notified the court and Dikken of its intent to seek a grand-jury indictment on first-degree-murder charges. Based on the State's notice, the court denied Dikken's petition to plead guilty. See Minn. R. Crim. P. 8.02, subd. 2 ("If the complaint charges a homicide, and the prosecuting attorney notifies the court that the case will be presented to the grand jury . . . the defendant cannot enter a plea at the Rule 8 hearing.").

         Approximately 2 weeks later, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Dikken with six counts of first-degree murder. Following the indictment, the State dismissed the second-degree-murder charges. Dikken ultimately reached a plea agreement with the State under which he pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree premeditated murder and one count of first-degree murder while committing a burglary. Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(1), (3) (2016). The district court accepted the plea; convicted Dikken of both counts; and sentenced him to two concurrent life sentences, one without the possibility of release.

         Dikken filed a timely petition for postconviction relief requesting that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and instead plead guilty to the original second-degree-murder charges. The postconviction court denied the petition without holding an evidentiary hearing, concluding that there were no material facts in dispute and that Dikken had failed to establish a manifest injustice entitling him to withdraw his plea.

         ANALYSIS

         This case arises out of the summary denial of Dikken's postconviction petition seeking the withdrawal of his guilty plea. Although we review the denial of an evidentiary hearing and a petition for postconviction relief for an abuse of discretion, Rhodes v. State, 875 N.W.2d 779, 786 (Minn. 2016), the overall question of whether Dikken's guilty plea was valid presents a question of law that we review de novo, Taylor v. State, 887 N.W.2d 821, 823 (Minn. 2016). "We [will] not reverse the postconviction court unless the postconviction court exercised its discretion in an arbitrary or capricious manner, based its ruling on an ...


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