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Lopez v. State

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 29, 2013

LUIS LOPEZ, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 649

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

Stephen D. Thompson, Ketchum, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

GUTIERREZ, Chief Judge.

Luis Lopez appeals from the district court's judgment denying Lopez's amended petition for post-conviction relief. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

After a jury trial, Lopez was found guilty of conspiracy to traffic in heroin, Idaho Code §§ 18-1701 and 37-2732B(a)(6). Prior to the trial, evidence in Lopez's case was analyzed at the Idaho State Police forensic laboratory in Meridian, Idaho. Years later, letters from the Idaho State Police to Idaho prosecutors identified issues at the Idaho State Police forensic laboratory in Pocatello, Idaho. The letters indicated that employees at the forensic laboratory in Pocatello had wrongfully maintained a box of unaccounted for drugs used for training purposes and tour displays. Employees concealed this box during audits of the facility. The letters also indicated that one employee had ordered a quantity of a drug (GHB) in excess of the amount authorized under the Idaho State Police Forensic Quality Manual. The employee also concealed this drug from inspectors and auditors.

After obtaining a copy of the letters, Lopez filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief asserting several grounds for relief. Lopez included letters and a report from the Idaho State Police referencing the forensic laboratory issues as exhibits in support of his petition. The district court appointed counsel for Lopez and allowed Lopez to file an amended petition. In the amended petition, Lopez only claimed the State withheld evidence of abuses of state laboratory procedures in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). Following an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied the petition. Lopez appeals.[1]

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In order to prevail in a post-conviction proceeding, the petitioner must prove the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. I.C. § 19-4907; Stuart v. State, 118 Idaho 865, 869, 801 P.2d 1216, 1220 (1990); Baxter v. State, 149 Idaho 859, 861, 243 P.3d 675, 677 (Ct. App. 2010). 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. Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a); Dunlap v. State, 141 Idaho 50, 56, 106 P.3d 376, 382 (2004); 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. Dunlap, 141 Idaho at 56, ...


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