Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Jerome County. Hon. John K. Butler, District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Melanson, Judge
Order summarily dismissing application for post-conviction relief, affirmed.
Juan Miguel Gonzales appeals from the district court's order summarily dismissing his application for post-conviction relief. Specifically, Gonzales challenges the district court's denial of his request for appointment of counsel. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
Gonzales pled guilty to one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor under sixteen years of age. I.C. § 18-1508. Prior to sentencing, the district court ordered Gonzales to undergo to a psychosexual evaluation. During the psychosexual evaluation, Gonzales submitted to a polygraph test and admitted to additional sexual contact with the victim. Based in part on the unfavorable results of the psychosexual evaluation and polygraph test, the district court sentenced Gonzales to a unified term of twenty years, with a minimum period of confinement of five years. Gonzales appealed, challenging only the reasonableness of his sentence, which this Court affirmed in an unpublished opinion. State v. Gonzales, Docket No. 35211 (Ct. App. Jan. 12, 2009).
Gonzales filed a motion for appointment of counsel and a pro se application for post- conviction relief, seeking an evidentiary hearing and vacation of his judgment of conviction. Gonzales's application alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him against participating in the court-ordered psychosexual evaluation and for failing to arrange an independent, confidential psychosexual evaluation for use by the defense. The district court issued a notice of intent to dismiss Gonzales's application and conditionally denied Gonzales's request for post-conviction counsel. In its notice, the district court gave Gonzales twenty days to provide admissible evidence in support of his claims. Gonzales filed a response to the district court's notice of intent to dismiss. After considering the response, the district court denied Gonzales's request for counsel and dismissed his application. Gonzales appeals.
An application for post-conviction relief initiates a proceeding that is civil in nature. Rhoades v. State, 148 Idaho 247, 249, 220 P.3d 1066, 1068 (2009); State v. Bearshield, 104 Idaho 676, 678, 662 P.2d 548, 550 (1983); Murray v. State, 121 Idaho 918, 921, 828 P.2d 1323, 1326 (Ct. App. 1992). Like a plaintiff in a civil action, the applicant must prove by a preponderance of evidence the allegations upon which the request for post-conviction relief is based. I.C. § 19-4907; Goodwin v. State, 138 Idaho 269, 271, 61 P.3d 626, 628 (Ct. App. 2002). An application for post-conviction relief differs from a complaint in an ordinary civil action. Dunlap v. State, 141 Idaho 50, 56, 106 P.3d 376, 382 (2004). An application must contain much more than "a short and plain statement of the claim" that would suffice for a complaint under I.R.C.P. 8(a)(1). Rather, an application for post-conviction relief must be verified with respect to facts within the personal knowledge of the applicant, and affidavits, records or other evidence supporting its allegations must be attached, or the application must state why such supporting evidence is not included with the application. I.C. § 19-4903. In other words, the application must present or be accompanied by admissible evidence supporting its allegations, or the application will be subject to dismissal.
Idaho Code Section 19-4906 authorizes summary dismissal of an application for post- conviction relief, either pursuant to motion of a party or upon the court's own initiative.
Summary dismissal of an application pursuant to I.C. § 19-4906 is the procedural equivalent of summary judgment under I.R.C.P. 56. A claim for post-conviction relief will be subject to summary dismissal if the applicant has not presented evidence making a prima facie case as to each essential element of the claims upon which the applicant bears the burden of proof. DeRushe v. State, 146 Idaho 599, 603, 200 P.3d 1148, 1152 (2009). Thus, summary dismissal is permissible when the applicant's evidence has raised no genuine issue of material fact that, if resolved in the applicant's favor, would entitle the applicant to the requested relief. If such a factual issue is presented, an evidentiary hearing must be conducted. Goodwin, 138 Idaho at 272, 61 P.3d at 629. Summary dismissal of an application for post-conviction relief may be appropriate, however, even where the state does not controvert the applicant's evidence because the court is not required to accept either the applicant's mere conclusory allegations, unsupported by admissible evidence, or the applicant's conclusions of law. Roman v. State, 125 Idaho 644, 647, 873 P.2d 898, 901 (Ct. App. 1994); Baruth v. Gardner, 110 Idaho 156, 159, 715 P.2d 369, 372 (Ct. App. 1986).
On review of a dismissal of a post-conviction relief application without an evidentiary hearing, we determine whether a genuine issue of fact exists based on the pleadings, depositions, and admissions together with any affidavits on file. Rhoades, 148 Idaho at 250, 220 P.3d at 1069; Ricca v. State, 124 Idaho 894, 896, 865 P.2d 985, 987 (Ct. App. 1993). In post-conviction actions, the district court, as the trier of fact, is not constrained to draw inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion for summary disposition; rather the district court is free to arrive ...