of Appellate Courts, Washington County
James Fox, Stillwater, Minnesota, pro se.
Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Pete
Orput, Washington County Attorney, Nicholas A. Hydukovich,
Assistant County Attorney, Stillwater, Minnesota, for
district court did not err in denying petitioner's claim
for postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing
because the record conclusively shows that he is not entitled
and decided by the court without oral argument.
Washington County jury found petitioner Thomas Fox guilty of
first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony
murder for the December 2011 stabbing death of Lori Baker.
The district court sentenced Fox to life imprisonment without
the possibility of release on the first-degree premeditated
murder conviction. Fox appealed, and on June 15, 2015, we
affirmed his convictions. State v. Fox, 868 N.W.2d
206 (Minn. 2015). On November 28, 2016, Fox filed a petition
for postconviction relief, which the postconviction court
summarily denied without an evidentiary hearing. Because the
record conclusively shows that Fox is not entitled to relief,
State charged Fox with first-degree premeditated murder and
first-degree felony murder for stabbing his girlfriend, Lori
Baker, 48 times and stealing her debit card. Fox,
868 N.W.2d at 211-12. On May 31, 2013, a jury found Fox
guilty on both counts. Id. at 213. He was sentenced
to life in prison without the possibility of
direct appeal, Fox's counsel briefed four arguments: (1)
Fox's Miranda rights were violated; (2) his
statements to police should have been suppressed; (3) the
district court provided an erroneous jury instruction
regarding circumstantial evidence; and (4) the State did not
present sufficient evidence to support his convictions.
Fox, 868 N.W.2d at 213-26. Fox submitted a
supplemental pro se brief, in which he alleged that: (5)
"his statements to police were unconstitutionally
obtained;" (6) the State had committed prosecutorial
misconduct; (7) it was error to sentence him to life in
prison without the possibility of release; (8) the trial
court erred by not giving a lesser-included-offense
instruction to the jury; (9) the date of the offense was
incorrect on the indictment; (10) his indictment was not
supported by probable cause; (11) the State engaged in
prosecutorial misconduct during the grand jury proceedings;
and (12) his trial counsel was ineffective. Id. at
226 n.5. We rejected all of the arguments raised by Fox's
counseled brief and his pro se brief, and affirmed his
convictions on June 15, 2015. Id. at 226.
November 28, 2016, Fox filed a pro se postconviction
petition, alleging six grounds for postconviction relief: (1)
the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction; (2)
Fox received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate
counsel; (3) the State's alleged failure to preserve
exculpatory evidence violated his due process rights; (4) the
search warrant for a DNA sample and fingernail samples was
constitutionally defective, violated his Fourth Amendment
rights, and was not addressed though raised in his direct
appeal; (5) that Brady violations infringed his due
process rights and Sixth Amendment right to confront
witnesses; and (6) that his trial counsel's failure to
challenge an order for restitution constitutes ineffective
assistance of counsel. Fox also requested relief based on any
other grounds the court may deem appropriate, "even
though not specifically raised by the petitioner." The
postconviction court concluded that the petition and the
record conclusively showed that Fox was not entitled to any
relief and rejected the petition without holding an
evidentiary hearing. Fox appealed from this order.
review a court's postconviction decisions for an abuse of
discretion. Moua v. State, 778 N.W.2d 286, 288
(Minn. 2010). The postconviction court's conclusions of
law are reviewed de novo. Id. We construe Fox's
petition liberally, as we do generally with pro se petitions.
See Wallace v. State, 820 N.W.2d 843, 849 (Minn.
2012); see also Minn. Stat. § 590.03 (2016)
("The court shall liberally construe the petition . . .
."). If, taking the facts alleged in the light most
favorable to the petitioner, the "petition and the files
and records of the proceeding conclusively show that the
petitioner is entitled to no relief, " the
postconviction court may dismiss the petition without an
evidentiary hearing. Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 1
(2016); see also Taylor v. State, 910 N.W.2d 35, 38
not consider claims that are "based on grounds that
could have been raised on direct appeal of the conviction or
sentence." Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1 (2016);
see State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (Minn.
1976) (barring postconviction review of all claims raised
"and all claims known but not raised, " on direct
appeal); see also White v. State, 711 N.W.2d 106,
109 (Minn. 2006) (barring all ...