Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Minnesota, Defendant, v. Jerad Blake CHRISTOPHERSON, Appellant.
Serial number C1-01-1561.
Decision date: May 28, 2002
CONSIDERATION AND DECISION OF JUDGES PRESENTING RANDALL, KLAPHAKE AND PORITSKY. Attorney General of the City of St. Paul Mike Hatch and Erin L.K. Goodhue County Prosecutor Stephen N. Betcher Schmickle, Red Wing County Deputy Prosecutor, as Respondents. John M. Stuart, state public defender, and Charles F. Clippert, deputy public defender, Minneapolis, represented the appellant.
Jerad Blake Christopherson is appealing the order dismissing his second-degree sex offense charge after his sentence was discharged, arguing that the district court should not have executed him after his probation was revoked. He was sentenced to a five-year parole period. Christopherson argued that because the five-year parole period was never listed as part of the probation period at his first hearing, adding that the period the sentence was later carried out would have invalidated his original confession because it was inaccurate, voluntary, and intelligent. Kristofferson also argued that the addition of a parole clause violated the terms of his settlement. However, because Christopherson's sentence was suspended at the first trial, he did not need to be informed of the terms of his parole in order to make an accurate, voluntary and reasonable confession. Moreover, when a parole clause was eventually added to the sentence he was serving, it did not violate Christopherson's plea deal, as he never agreed to a time limit in his plea deal with the state. We therefore uphold the decision of the District Court.
According to Minn.Stat, in May 1996, Gerald Christopherson was charged with three counts of first-degree sex misconduct. §609.342, sec. 1(a) (1996) and three counts of second-degree sex offenses under MinnStat. §609.343, sec. 1(a) (1996), as a result of four sexual encounters with a 12-year-old woman. In September of that year, Christopherson pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree sexual misconduct. During the appeal hearing, the court stayed the sentence and placed Christopherson on probation on several terms, including serving a year in the county jail.
At the time the court received Kristofferson's request, the state informed the court that the sentencing guidelines did not require a presumption of imprisonment for Kristofferson. Despite this, during cross-examination at the trial, Christopherson's lawyers asked him if he understood that the maximum sentence for the crimes he pleaded guilty to was 25 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine. Christopherson said he understood that. At a later hearing, a district court judge told Christopherson that if he violated the terms of his probation, he could "end up in prison for a very long time." if Christopherson subsequently violated the terms of his probation period. No investigative report was required before pleading guilty.
In late 1997, a dismissal suit was filed against Christopherson after repeatedly violating his probation. During these proceedings, Christopherson pleaded guilty to three separate probation violations. During cross-examination, Christopherson said he believed his original probation was 26 months. Later in the lawsuit, the state asked Christopherson to pledge himself to the Commissioner of Corrections for 26 months. Despite these remarks, there was no indication in the transcript of Christopherson's testimony at the earlier trial that the initial probation period was 26 months. The first mention of the 26-month sentence appeared in the report of the appearance in the court ordered in the process of overturning the probation period. Ultimately, in these proceedings, the court overturned Kristofferson's probation and sentenced him to: 26 months in prison and a five-year parole period, which began on the day Kristofferson was released.
In 2000, after being released from prison, Christopherson again violated his parole and was sent back to prison. In March 2001, Christopherson filed a post-conviction application, arguing that his application was invalid because he had not been informed that if his probation was withdrawn, his prison sentence would be increased by a period of parole. He asked for his parole to be revoked, in other words, for permission to withdraw his application. Christopherson claims that his request was inaccurate, involuntary and unreasonable because he was unaware of the parole period. He also claimed that the imposition of parole violated his plea bargain as it exceeded the 26 months in prison he claimed he had originally agreed to.
The district court rejected his request, arguing that the plea bargain did not mention a specific custodial sentence and that the addition of a parole period did not violate the terms of that original contract. The court said that Christopherson had not specifically mentioned the time limit in his guilty plea and that he had accepted the plea agreement as the motivation for the probation sentence. The court further stated that because the maximum sentence for Christopherson's crimes was 25 years, the five-year parole period did not exceed that period and was therefore enforceable.
On appeal, Christopherson argued that the district court's decision should be overturned because (1) his motion was invalid because he was unaware of the parole opportunity when his motion was granted, and (2) the addition of the parole violated the terms of the original settlement agreement . Kristofferson asked that court to remit the case to the district court so that he had a chance to withdraw his motion or change the verdict.
I. When his application was granted, did the failure to inform Christopherson of the possibility of his subsequent parole render his application not legally voluntary, informed and reasonable?
two. Did adding a conditional release clause violate the original settlement agreement?
Post-conviction review is limited to determining whether there is sufficient evidence to support the court's post-conviction findings. Hale v. State, 566 NW2d 923, 926 (min. 1997). If there is no abuse of discretion, the post-conviction decision of the court will not be interfered with. ID. However, the interpretation and enforcement of a settlement are legal issues and need to be re-examined. State v. Brown, 606 NW2d 670, 674 (min. 2000).
The appellant's first argument is that he should be allowed to withdraw his application because it was imprecise, voluntary and unreasonable. R. Crim, MN. Page 15.05, Subdirectories. 1 Allows charges to be withdrawn after sentencing when "a manifest injustice needs to be redressed". The defendant bears the burden of proving that the refusal to grant permission was a manifest unfairness. Alanis v. State, 583 NW2d 573, 577 (Minn. 1998). There is a clear injustice when a request is imprecise, voluntary, and unreasonable. ID.
Christopherson received a suspended sentence. The statutes requiring parole are as follows:
Notwithstanding any statutory maximum sentence or sentencing guidelines applicable to a particular offence, when a court sentences an individual to imprisonment for a violation of Sections 609.342, 609.343, 609.344 or 609.345, the court will order that after the person has served his sentence, the Director of Education imposes conditional release on that person.
MN 609.109, reference number 7(a) (2000) (emphasis added). After the sentence was suspended, the court did not sentence Kristofferson to prison while he pleaded guilty. Thus, the court rightly, based on the simple wording of the Act, did not impose conditional release. In fact, had Christopherson complied with the conditions imposed in his pleading guilty, he would never have been paroled. Parole did not become mandatory until he violated the terms of the probation period and was convicted by a court.
Since the parole period was not enforced at the time of Christopherson's testimony, accepting his position would amount to adopting a rule requiring each court to cite and state in the record all possible consequences of any future violation of probation. to do so, when a violation is subsequently found, the court cannot impose any sanction not mentioned in the earlier plea without giving the defendant the opportunity to withdraw his plea, perhaps many years after it was brought. Such a rule would be against Minn.Stat. §609.14 sec. 3 (2000), allows courts to order provisional penalties, such as treatment or increased probation, if the court finds that the defendant has breached the terms of the probation period. cf. Minnesota §609.135, sub. 1(a)(2)(b) (2000) (describing intermediate penalties).
In support of his argument, Christopherson argues that the ABA's Criminal Justice Standards require courts to be prosecuted only after it has been determined that the defendant understands "the maximum penalty for the charges, including possible subsequent convictions, and the mandatory minimum penalties for the charges, if any they exist". , or any exceptional circumstances affecting probation or release from prison.” ABA Criminal Justice Standards 14-1.4(a)(ii), 3rd ed. (1997). Christopherson then highlights the fact that Minn. R. Crim. Party 15 generally follows the ABA Standards' instructions for accepting a plea. See R. Crim, MN. P. 15 cmt ("Rule 15.01 broadly adopts the ABA standard, pleas of guilt, 1.4-1.6 (approved draft, 1968) for advice and questions to be asked to a defendant prior to pleading guilty"). Christopherson advanced these arguments to show that if the state failed to notify the defendants of the elements listed in the ABA standard, the defense must be invalid and should not be admissible, or that defendants should be allowed to withdraw their defense to avoid manifest injustice.
Christopherson's argument is weakened, however, by the fact that the comments on the principles are only advisory and not intended to be binding on the Court. State v. Johnson, 514 NW2d 551, 555 n. 8 (Minn. 1994). Furthermore, Christopherson does not refer to a later identical comment on the Rule stating that "the failure to include all hearings provided for in Rule 15.01 does not in itself invalidate a plea of guilty." R. Crim, Minnesota. 15 cm. This language supports the conclusion that a defense can be successfully made even if the rules are not strictly followed. See Vernlund v. State, 589 N.W.2d 307, 310-11 (Minn.App.1999) (indicating that no method is necessary for pleading guilty as long as the method used complies with the Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.02). Therefore, the fact that Christopherson did not mention parole when the original application was made does not in itself prove that his application was inaccurate, voluntary, and reckless.
Essentially, Christopherson argues that it is desirable to establish a clear rule: where a defendant will or may be eligible for parole, that possibility must be stated in the plea. While there is much to be said about this approach, we conclude that given the facts of the case, including the fact that Christopherson was granted probation, the lack of mention of parole does not invalidate the plea.
Christopherson's second argument is that parole was imposed in violation of a plea agreement. Having pleaded guilty, prosecutors documented the settlement. According to the plea deal, the only deal Christopherson made was a disposition that didn't include a prison sentence, and that's what he got.
When prosecutors refer to sentencing guidelines, it is only disposition (i.e. no obligation) that is meant, not duration. There is no mention of a 26-month limit or anything else. No time limit was mentioned, although Christopherson and his lawyers may have considered issuing a judgment with a presumed guideline date. Thus, it seems that if the court imposes an upward bias in a later sentence, even if such an award violates the guidelines, it would not violate the settlement. Thus, the fact that Christopherson served and could have served more than 26 months of his sentence does not in itself constitute a breach of contract.
On appeal, Christopherson relied on State v. Jumping Eagle, 620 NW2d 42 (min. 2000) and State v. Garcia, 582 NW2d 879 (min. 1998), arguing that the defendant could withdraw his charges if additional parole More than the maximum prison time the defendant agreed to. Although he correctly stated the Jumping Eagle and Garcia estates, the facts of these cases differed from his. Here, unlike the cases he cites, there was no limit to the length of time Christopherson could serve his sentence at the time of his plea. Thus, the scope of the case on which Christopherson relied was too broad to conclude that parole had been imposed in violation of the terms of his plea agreement.
As the sentence against Christopherson was stayed, his request for unconditional release was granted. Thus, the fact that Christopherson did not mention the possibility of parole during his confession did not invalidate that confession, although it was later added to his sentence. Moreover, since no agreement had been reached on the sentence of imprisonment combined with parole, he had violated his consent to plead guilty.
PORICKI, Judge. *FN* Retired District Judge appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals under the Minnesota Constitution. Piece. VI, § 10.
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