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Morris v. State

Court of Appeals of Idaho

December 10, 2013

LARRY EUGENE MORRIS, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 787

Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. John R. Stegner, District Judge.

Order summarily dismissing petition for post-conviction relief, affirmed

Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Shawn F. Wilkerson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Nicole L. Schafer, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent

GRATTON, Judge

Morris refused to cooperate as a confidential informant. Accordingly, the State did not recommend probation at Morris's sentencing hearing.

The sentencing court imposed a unified term of ten years with five years determinate. Morris filed an Idaho Criminal Rule 35 motion seeking a reduction of his sentence. The court granted the motion, in part, and reduced his sentence to a unified term of ten years with four years determinate. Morris appealed and this Court affirmed the district court's order in State v. Morris, Docket No. 38678 (Ct. App. Jan. 8, 2013) (unpublished).

Morris then filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief alleging, in part, ineffective assistance of counsel. As relevant here, Morris claimed his counsel was ineffective in failing to convince the sentencing court to accept the CPA case records into evidence at the sentencing hearing. The State moved for summary dismissal and Morris, through counsel, responded to the State's motion. Following a hearing on the State's motion, the post-conviction court granted the State's motion and summarily dismissed Morris's petition. Morris timely appeals.

II.

ANALYSIS

Morris contends the post-conviction court erred in dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief. A petition for post-conviction relief initiates a civil, rather than criminal, proceeding, governed by the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure. Idaho Code § 19-4907; 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 plaintiffs in other civil actions, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of evidence the allegations upon which the request for post-conviction relief is based. 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). A petition for post-conviction relief differs from a complaint in an ordinary civil action, however, in that it must contain 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. I.C. § 19-4903. In other words, the petition must present or be accompanied by admissible evidence supporting its allegations, or it will be subject to dismissal. Wolf v. State, 152 Idaho 64, 67, 266 P.3d 1169, 1172 (Ct. App. 2011); Roman v. State, 125 Idaho 644, 647, 873 P.2d 898, 901 (Ct. App. 1994).

Idaho Code § 19-4906 authorizes summary dismissal of a petition for post-conviction relief, either pursuant to a motion by a party or upon the court's own initiative, if "it appears from the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions and agreements of fact, together with any affidavits submitted, that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." I.C. § 19-4906(c). When considering summary dismissal, the district court must construe disputed facts in the petitioner's favor, but the court is not required to accept either the petitioner's mere conclusory allegations, unsupported by admissible evidence, or the petitioner's conclusions of law. Payne, 146 Idaho at 561, 199 P.3d at 136; Roman, 125 Idaho at 647, 873 P.2d at 901. Moreover, because the district court rather than a jury will be the trier of fact in the event of an evidentiary hearing, the district court is not constrained to draw inferences in the petitioner's favor, but is free to arrive at the most probable inferences to be drawn from the evidence. Yakovac, 145 Idaho at 444, 180 P.3d at 483; Wolf, 152 Idaho at 67, 266 P.3d at 1172; Hayes v. State, 146 Idaho 353, 355, 195 P.3d 712, 714 (Ct. App. 2008). ...


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