Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Reed v. State

Supreme Court of Minnesota, Ramsey

March 20, 2019

Ronald Lindsey Reed, Appellant,
v.
State of Minnesota, Respondent.

         Office of Appellate Courts Ramsey County

          Ronald Lindsey Reed, Rush City, Minnesota, pro se. Keith Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and

          John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Adam E. Petras, Assistant County Attorney, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondent.

         SYLLABUS

         1. Appellant is conclusively entitled to no relief on his witness-recantation claim because even when the alleged facts are viewed in the light most favorable to appellant, they fail to establish that the jury might have reached a different verdict in the absence of the testimony in question, and therefore the district court did not abuse its discretion when it summarily denied the claim.

          2. Even without the allegedly recanted testimony, the failure to provide the jury with an accomplice-corroboration instruction did not affect appellant's substantial rights.

         3. Appellant is conclusively entitled to no relief on his remaining claims because even when the alleged facts are viewed in the light most favorable to appellant, the claims are barred by the postconviction statute of limitations, and therefore the district court did not abuse its discretion when it summarily denied the claims.

         Affirmed.

         Considered and decided without oral argument.

          OPINION

          HUDSON, Justice.

         Appellant Ronald Reed appeals from the summary denial of his second and third petitions for postconviction relief in this first-degree murder case. In his petitions, Reed alleged that two of the State's witnesses recanted, that testimony given in a related proceeding by his purported accomplice is evidence of actual innocence, that the State failed to fulfill its disclosure obligations, that he was denied his right to self-representation, and that he was denied his right to confront the witnesses against him. The postconviction court denied Reed's petitions without a hearing, concluding that five of Reed's claims were barred by the statute of limitations in Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(a) (2018), and State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737 (Minn. 1976), and that Reed's evidence supporting the remaining claim (the recantation by one of the State's witnesses) failed to satisfy the test for a new trial, even when viewed in the light most favorable to Reed. Five of Reed's claims were filed after the statute of limitations expired and the sixth is legally insufficient to entitle

          Reed to a new trial. Because five of Reed's claims were filed after the statute of limitations expired and the sixth is legally insufficient to entitle Reed to a new trial, he is conclusively entitled to no relief. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it summarily denied his second and third petitions for postconviction relief. We affirm.

         FACTS

         In 1970, Saint Paul Police Officer James Sackett was killed by a sniper while responding to a false emergency call. Although investigators were unable to identify the sniper, they identified the caller as Reed's then girlfriend, Constance Trimble (now Trimble-Smith). The State charged Trimble-Smith with aiding and abetting first-degree murder. At her 1972 trial, Trimble-Smith testified that someone had told her to call the police and told her what to say, but she refused to identify who that person was, even after she was acquitted.

         In 2002, the police reopened their investigation of Officer Sackett's murder. During the investigation, police officers obtained statements from Anthony Foster, Joseph Garrett, Trimble-Smith, and John Griffin. Foster told the police that before Officer Sackett's murder, Reed had said killing a police officer could put Saint Paul "on the map." Foster also reported that after Officer Sackett's murder, he asked Reed if he had heard "about the police officer that got killed." According to Foster, Reed remained silent while another friend advised Foster to "drop it" because "we don't want to go there." Garrett told the police that a week before the murder Reed attempted to recruit him for "bringing down the first pig." Trimble-Smith told the police that Reed was the person who told her to make the phone call. Like Foster and Garrett, Griffin told the police that Reed had talked about killing a police officer shortly before Officer Sackett's murder, including Reed's statement that killing a police officer could put Saint Paul "on the map." Griffin also reported that after Officer Sackett's death, Reed told Griffin that "when [Reed] put a bead on that officer . . . he felt powerful," but "when he seen the bullet hitting him, he said he never felt more f**ked up in his life."

         Based on the statements of Foster, Garrett, Trimble-Smith, and Griffin (as well as evidence that Reed and another man, Larry Clark, possessed a bolt-action rifle of the type used to murder Officer Sackett), the State charged Reed and Clark with aiding and abetting first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Both individuals pleaded not guilty and demanded jury trials.

         Reed's trial was scheduled first. At Reed's 2006 trial, the State's evidence included:

Reed's advocacy, at meetings of the Black United Front and Inner City Youth League, of killing police officers; evidence that members of these organizations practiced shooting at silhouettes that looked like police officers; evidence that Reed and Clark possessed and transported a bolt-action rifle of the type used to murder Officer Sackett; evidence that Reed approached Joseph Garrett a week before the murder and attempted to recruit him for "bringing down the first pig"; Trimble-Smith's uncontradicted testimony that Reed prompted her to make the 911 call and travel to Clark's residence, approximately 100 yards from where Sackett was shot; and Reed's confession to John Griffin.
. . . Joseph Garrett testified that Reed advocated defending the community from the police "by whatever means necessary," which he interpreted to include killing, and that Reed invited him to "be involved in getting our first pig." Anthony Foster testified that Reed commented, "[t]hey [the police] are killing us, so we have to kill them." John Griffin and Foster both testified that Reed noted that killing a police officer could put St. Paul "on the map" and potentially get the city a Black Panther chapter. Testimony by these witnesses also established a close association between Reed and Clark, whose house was 100 yards from the scene of Officer Sackett's shooting. Foster further testified that, a few days after Officer Sackett's shooting, he asked Reed and two other friends "[d]id you hear about the police officer that got killed"? According to Foster, Reed remained silent while another friend advised Foster to "drop it" because "we don't want to go there." Donald Walker testified that Reed possessed a rifle of the type used to shoot Officer Sackett. Evidence [was offered] of Reed's arrest in 1970 with weapons and detailed plans for a hijacking plot designed to free Trimble-Smith and Clark from jail . . . . Finally, Griffin testified that Reed confessed to the killing.

State v. Reed (Reed I), 737 N.W.2d 572, 582, 584-85 (Minn. 2007). The jury found Reed guilty as charged, and the district court imposed a sentence of life without the possibility of release.

         On direct appeal, Reed raised four claims that are relevant here. First, he claimed that the district court committed plain error when it failed to give the jury an accomplice-corroboration instruction regarding Trimble-Smith's testimony. Id. at 582. Second, he claimed that the district court erred by refusing to dismiss the indictments against him because the prosecution failed to disclose that one grand jury witness, John Griffin, had falsely testified to the grand jury. Id. at 587. Third, he claimed that the district court erred by refusing to afford him a hearing on his motion to represent himself. Id. And fourth, he claimed that he was entitled to a new trial based on an affidavit by Trimble-Smith's daughter stating that "shortly after Reed's trial, Trimble-Smith admitted that she lied during her testimony because investigators plied her with money and promises of reward." Id. at 590.

         In August 2007, we affirmed Reed's conviction. We explained that, although the district court's failure to give an accomplice-corroboration instruction to the jury was plain error, Reed had failed to establish that there was a reasonable likelihood that the absence of the error would have had a significant effect on the jury's verdict. Id. at 583-85. We also concluded that the district court did not err in refusing to dismiss the indictments. Id. at 587. As for Reed's self-representation claim, we concluded that Reed had not filed a motion to represent himself but rather a motion to appoint substitute counsel, which was properly denied. Id. at 587-88. Finally, we held that the affidavit by Trimble-Smith's daughter did not entitle Reed to a new trial because it was based on hearsay and did not specify which parts of Trimble-Smith's testimony were allegedly fabricated. Id. at 590.

         In February 2009, Clark pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.[1] As part of his plea, Clark said he had no "personal knowledge regarding the guilt or non-guilt of . . . Ronald Reed."

         Six months later, in August 2009, Reed filed his first petition for postconviction relief, which raised two claims that are relevant here. First, he argued that the district court denied his right to self-representation by not asking him how he intended to proceed if his counsel was discharged. Second, he claimed that he was entitled to a new trial because Trimble-Smith had recanted. To support his witness-recantation claim, Reed included the affidavit by Trimble-Smith's daughter that was submitted during his direct appeal, as well as three additional affidavits-one from Trimble-Smith, one from her grandson, and one from her brother. Reed did not claim that Clark's 2009 guilty plea established Reed's actual innocence. The district court concluded that Reed's self-representation claim was procedurally barred because Reed had raised it in his direct appeal and that his witness-recantation claim failed because the affidavits did not establish that Trimble-Smith's trial testimony was false. We affirmed the denial of Reed's first petition, concluding that the self-representation claim was procedurally barred and that the affidavits did not establish that Trimble-Smith's trial testimony was false. Reed v. State, 793 N.W.2d 725, 729-30, 737-38 (Minn. 2010).

         On August 12, 2016, Reed filed his second petition for postconviction relief, which alleged six claims. He argued that he was entitled to a new trial based on newly discovered evidence that (1) Griffin had recanted his trial testimony, (2) Trimble-Smith had recanted her trial testimony, (3) Reed was denied his right to self-representation, (4) the State failed to disclose exculpatory evidence during discovery, (5) Reed was denied the right to confront the witnesses against him, and (6) Reed is actually innocent. In January 2017, the district court summarily denied the second petition without holding an evidentiary hearing. The court explained that it was not reasonably well-satisfied that Griffin's trial testimony was false and that the remaining five claims were barred by Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4 (2018), and Knaffla, because they had been brought more than 2 years after Reed became aware of their existence and Reed knew or should have known of the claims when he brought his first petition.

         Reed appealed the denial of his second petition. When briefing was partially completed, Reed asked us to stay his appeal so he could present additional evidence in the district court regarding Griffin's alleged recantation. We granted the motion, and Reed subsequently filed his third petition for postconviction relief, which dealt solely with Griffin's alleged recantation. With the petition he included affidavits wherein two individuals swore that Griffin had contacted them and admitted to lying at Reed's trial, a third affidavit wherein a private investigator swore that the owner of the number that called the first individual matched the age and race of Griffin, and various correspondence between Griffin and Reed wherein Griffin expressed remorse at being the cause of Reed's conviction. In March 2018, the postconviction court summarily denied Reed's third petition, concluding that some of the additional evidence was barred from consideration because Reed could have included it with his second petition, and that, even if all the evidence was considered, it did not alter the court's original conclusion that it was not reasonably well-satisfied that Griffin's testimony was false. When Reed appealed the summary denial of his third petition, we lifted the stay and consolidated the two appeals.

         ANALYSIS

         We review the denial of a petition for postconviction relief, including denial without a hearing, for an abuse of discretion. Quick v. State, 757 N.W.2d 278, 281 (Minn. 2008). A court abuses its discretion if it "exercised its discretion in an arbitrary or capricious manner, based its ruling on an erroneous view of the law, or made clearly erroneous factual findings." Henderson v. State, 906 N.W.2d 501, 505 (Minn. 2018) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         A court is required to grant an evidentiary hearing "[u]nless the petition and the files and records of the proceeding conclusively show that the petitioner is entitled to no relief." Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 1 (2018). If material facts that would entitle a petitioner to relief are in dispute, the court must grant a hearing. Hodgson v. State, 540 N.W.2d 515, 517 (Minn. 1995). "In determining whether an evidentiary hearing is required, a postconviction court considers the facts alleged in the petition as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the petitioner." Andersen v. State, 913 N.W.2d 417, 422-23 (Minn. 2018) (quoting Brown v. State, 895 N.W.2d 612, 618 (Minn. 2017)). "No hearing is required if a petition is untimely under the postconviction statute of limitations." Bolstad v. State, 878 N.W.2d 493, 496 (Minn. 2016).

         We begin by considering whether the facts Reed alleged in support of his claim that Griffin has recanted his trial testimony, if true, were legally insufficient to grant a new trial. Next, assuming Griffin has recanted, we reconsider whether the trial court's failure to give an accomplice-corroboration instruction affected Reed's substantial rights. Finally, we consider whether Reed's remaining claims were untimely under the postconviction statute of limitations, Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4.

         I.

         A petitioner is entitled to a new trial based on a witness-recantation claim if:

(1) the court is reasonably well-satisfied that the testimony given by a material witness was false; (2) without the testimony, the jury might have reached a different conclusion; and (3) the party seeking the new trial was taken by surprise when the false testimony was given and was unable ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.