County, Office of Appellate Courts
David Petersen, Oak Park Heights, Minnesota, pro se
Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and John J.
Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Adam E. Petras, Assistant
County Attorney, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondent.
district court did not abuse its discretion by denying
appellant's claim of ineffective assistance of appellate
counsel on the merits.
and decided by the court without oral argument.
Ryan David Petersen was convicted of the first-degree
premeditated murder of Chase Passauer. On direct appeal, we
affirmed his conviction. State v. Petersen, 910
N.W.2d 1 (Minn. 2018). Petersen then sought postconviction
relief, asserting a claim of ineffective assistance of
appellate counsel. The district court denied his petition
without a hearing. Because we conclude that Petersen's
claim fails on the merits, we affirm the district court.
murder of Chase Passauer arose from a dispute between
Petersen and his criminal defense attorney. On the day of the
murder, Petersen exchanged a series of text messages with his
attorney concerning a parking ticket. When the attorney
informed Petersen that he was unable to talk by phone because
he was preparing for court, and he would not handle
Petersen's parking ticket, Petersen fired the attorney
and demanded a refund of the $7, 000 retainer he had
previously paid. Petersen told his girlfriend that he
intended to get his money back from, and shoot, the attorney.
Petersen then drove five miles to the attorney's office
and, with a hidden .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun in his
waistband, entered the building, ascended the stairs, and
entered the law office through unlocked doors.
confronted Passauer, a law clerk who was seated at the
reception desk in the law office, demanding to know where the
attorney was located. Angry that Passauer did not know where
the attorney was, Petersen shot Passauer in the chest five
times. As Petersen left the office, he shot Passauer three
more times through a glass window separating the reception
area from the entryway. Petersen fled, leaving Passauer to
die from the eight gunshot wounds to his chest.
State charged Petersen by complaint with second-degree
intentional murder. Just before his second court appearance,
Petersen informed the State that he intended to enter a
straight plea to the charge of second-degree intentional
murder. The State filed an amended complaint charging
Petersen with first-degree premeditated murder, second-degree
intentional murder, and possession of a firearm by an
ineligible person. The State also informed the district court
that a grand jury proceeding would be convened to consider
the first-degree murder charge.
still attempted to plead guilty to the second-degree murder
charge, but the district court did not accept his plea. Five
days later, a grand jury indicted Petersen on all three
charges. The district court denied Petersen's motion to
dismiss the grand jury indictment.
bench trial, the district court found Petersen guilty of all
three charges. The district court sentenced Petersen to life
in prison without the possibility of release for first-
degree premeditated murder and a concurrent 60-month sentence
for possession of a firearm by an ineligible person; it did
not sentence Petersen on the second-degree intentional murder
filed a direct appeal. See Petersen, 910 N.W.2d 1.
We determined that (1) the district court did not abuse its
discretion by declining to accept Petersen's guilty plea
to second-degree intentional murder, and (2) sufficient
evidence supported the district court's finding of
premeditation. Id. at 6, 8. Accordingly, we affirmed
Petersen's convictions. Id. at 9.
filed a petition for postconviction relief. He argued that
his conviction for first-degree premeditated murder must be
set aside and that, based on a claim of ineffective
assistance of appellate counsel, he should receive a new
sentencing hearing for his conviction of possession of a
firearm by an ineligible person. The district court denied
Petersen's petition without a hearing, and Peterson now
person convicted of a crime may petition for postconviction
relief under Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1 (2018). A
district court is required to hold an evidentiary hearing and
make findings of fact and conclusions of law "[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). We
review a district court's denial of a postconviction
petition for an abuse of discretion, and we review any
embedded issues of law de novo. Reed v. State, 793
N.W.2d 725, 729 (Minn. 2010). An abuse of discretion occurs
when the district court has "exercised ...