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State v. Eason

Supreme Court of Minnesota

January 24, 2018

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Jamil Joshua Eason, Appellant.

         Hennepin County Office of Appellate Courts

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Brittany D. Lawonn, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent.

          Bradford Colbert, Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.

          Lillehaug, J. Dissenting, Stras, McKeig, JJ.

         SYLLABUS

         Because appellant did not have a "review" on direct appeal, the postconviction court erred when it denied appellant's request for appointed counsel for postconviction proceedings.

         Reversed and remanded.

          OPINION

          LILLEHAUG, Justice.

         In 2012, Jamil Joshua Eason was convicted of first-degree felony murder. He appealed his conviction, but voluntarily dismissed the appeal after his brief had been filed but before the date set for oral argument. In 2016, Eason filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective and that the prosecutor improperly refused to renew her initial plea offer. He asked the postconviction court to appoint counsel. The postconviction court referred Eason's request for counsel to the state public defender, which declined to represent him. The postconviction court then summarily denied Eason's petition.

         We reverse and remand for the appointment of counsel.

         FACTS

         In 2012, the State charged Jamil Joshua Eason with first-degree felony murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(3) (2016); and second-degree intentional murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1 (2016). The parties exchanged several plea offers before trial, but failed to reach an agreement.

         At trial, the State presented physical evidence linking Eason to the crime, and testimony from a witness who met Eason in jail to establish that, on November 2, 2012, in the course of a burglary of a Minneapolis home, Eason killed the homeowner by stabbing. The jury returned a guilty verdict on the first-degree felony murder charge and a not-guilty verdict on second-degree intentional murder. The district court sentenced Eason to life in prison with the possibility of release after 30 years.

         Eason filed a notice of appeal a few months later, and his attorney-an assistant state public defender-filed a 24-page brief on his behalf. But before the State's brief was due, Eason and his attorney filed a notice of voluntary dismissal. The record does not disclose why Eason made the decision to ...


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