2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 642
Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Hon. Dane H. Watkins, Jr., District Judge.
Order denying motion to withdraw guilty plea, affirmed.
Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Shawn F. Wilkerson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.
Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Daphne J. Huang, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
John Lee Adams appeals from the denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea for lewd conduct with a child under sixteen, Idaho Code § 18-1508.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
At the change of plea hearing, the district court conducted a thorough examination of Adams and found that entry of the guilty plea was made "knowingly, freely, and voluntarily." The court sentenced Adams to a unified term of nine years, with two years determinate. Adams filed an Idaho Criminal Rule 35 motion which the district court denied. Adams appealed the district court's denial of the Rule 35 motion, and also alleged the district court abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sentence and failing to grant probation. This Court affirmed the trial court's denial of the I.C.R. 35 motion and Adams' sentence. State v. Adams, Docket No. 38805 (Ct. App. March 1, 2012) (unpublished). While Adams' appeal was pending, he filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea which the trial court denied.
On appeal, Adams alleges he did not understand the nature of the charge or potential punishment when he pled guilty; he did not present a factual basis to support the charge and he was coerced into pleading guilty. Whether to grant a motion to withdraw a guilty plea lies in the discretion of the district court and such discretion should be liberally applied. State v. Freeman, 110 Idaho 117, 121, 714 P.2d 86, 90 (Ct. App. 1986). Appellate review of the denial of a motion to withdraw a plea is limited to determining whether the district court exercised sound judicial discretion as distinguished from arbitrary action. Id. Also of importance is whether the motion to withdraw a plea is made before or after sentence is imposed. Idaho Criminal Rule 33(c) provides that a plea may be withdrawn after sentencing only to correct manifest injustice. The stricter standard after sentencing is justified to ensure that the accused is not encouraged to plead guilty to test the weight of potential punishment and withdraw the plea if the sentence were unexpectedly severe. Freeman, 110 Idaho at 121, 714 P.2d at 90. Accordingly, in cases involving a motion to withdraw a plea after sentencing, appellate review is limited to reviewing the record and determining whether the trial court abused its sound discretion in determining that no manifest injustice would occur if the defendant was prohibited from withdrawing his or her plea. State v. Lavy, 121 Idaho 842, 844, 828 P.2d 871, 873 (1992). Manifest injustice occurs when the court accepts a plea without following constitutional standards requiring the plea to be made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. State v. Thomas, 154 Idaho 305, 307, 297 P.3d 268, 270 (Ct. App. 2013). A prima facie showing of compliance with due process is made if the record and reasonable inferences establish the trial court satisfied the requirements of Idaho Criminal Rule 11(c). Ray v. State, 133 Idaho 96, 99, 982 P.2d 931, 934 (1999); Thomas, 154 Idaho at 307, 297 P.3d at 270.
Here, Adams' motion to withdraw was made after he was sentenced and it is his burden to show a manifest injustice would result unless the guilty plea is withdrawn. The guilty plea was entered pursuant to a plea agreement signed by Adams and his counsel. The plea agreement listed the potential punishments for lewd conduct with a child under sixteen, indicated it was signed voluntarily without duress or coercion, and listed the constitutional rights waived upon pleading guilty. Review of the record also establishes a prima facie showing of compliance with I.C.R. 11(c) and due process.
Adams' claim that his learning disability or mental issues caused by health problems prevented him from knowingly or voluntarily entering his plea is contradicted by the record.
ADAMS: I just have a learning disability.
COURT: Okay. What is the nature of that?
ADAMS: When I don't understand a sentence or something, I need it read to me to make sure I understand the content of that sentence.
COURT: Do you feel like in your conversations with your attorney, each of you have been tracking one another?
COURT: If there's anything you don't understand, please let the court know or your attorney--
COURT: In today's process and I'll try to walk you through it as carefully as possible. . . . .
COURT: And do you have any psychological or mental problems that might affect your ability to ...