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Brian Cobler v. State of Idaho

June 21, 2012

BRIAN COBLER,
PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO,
RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Michael R. McLaughlin, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gratton, Chief Judge

2012 Unpublished Opinion No. 528

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED OPINION AND SHALL NOT BE CITED AS AUTHORITY

Order dismissing petition for post-conviction relief, affirmed.

Brian Cobler appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief after an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Cobler pled guilty to one count of sexual battery of a minor, sixteen or seventeen years of age, based on charges that Cobler and his wife had maintained a sexual relationship with a minor. See State v. Cobler, 148 Idaho 769, 771, 229 P.3d 374, 376 (2010). In his petition for post-conviction relief, he alleged: (1) the Meridian Police Department violated his constitutional rights; (2) prosecutorial and judicial misconduct; (3) an equal protection violation at sentencing; (4) being charged with an unconstitutional Idaho Code provision; (5) a due process violation;*fn1 and (6) ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Cobler sought court-appointed counsel for assistance with his petition, which was granted by the district court.

The State filed a motion for summary dismissal, but the district court proceeded to an evidentiary hearing without ruling on the State's motion. After Cobler testified at the evidentiary hearing, the district court dismissed the majority of his claims. The remaining claims concerned Cobler's allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. After hearing testimony from Cobler's former trial counsel, the district court also denied relief on those claims. Cobler timely appealed.

II. DISCUSSION

A petition for post-conviction relief initiates a proceeding that is civil in nature. State v. Yakovac, 145 Idaho 437, 443, 180 P.3d 476, 482 (2008); see also Pizzuto v. State, 146 Idaho 720, 724, 202 P.3d 642, 646 (2008). Like the plaintiff in a civil action, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of evidence the allegations upon which the request for post-conviction relief is based. I.C. § 19-4907; Stuart v. State, 118 Idaho 865, 869, 801 P.2d 1216, 1220 (1990); 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) (quoting Goodwin, 138 Idaho at 271, 61 P.3d at 628)). The petition 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). State v. Payne, 146 Idaho 548, 560, 199 P.3d 123, 135 (2008); Goodwin, 138 Idaho at 271, 61 P.3d at 628. The petition must be verified with respect to facts within the personal knowledge of the petitioner, and affidavits, records or other evidence supporting its allegations must be attached, or the petition must state why such supporting evidence is not included with the petition. I.C. § 19-4903. In other words, the petition must present or be accompanied by admissible evidence supporting its allegations, or the petition will be subject to dismissal.

When reviewing a decision denying post-conviction relief after an evidentiary hearing, an appellate court will not disturb the lower court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous. I.R.C.P. 52(a); Russell v. State, 118 Idaho 65, 67, 794 P.2d 654, 656 (Ct. App. 1990).

The credibility of the witnesses, the weight to be given to their testimony, and the inferences to be drawn from the evidence are all matters solely within the province of the district court. Larkin v. State, 115 Idaho 72, 73, 764 P.2d 439, 440 (Ct. App. 1988). We exercise free review of the district court's application of the relevant law ...


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