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Crow v. State

Court of Appeals of Idaho

March 25, 2016

LAWRENCE JAMES CROW, Petitioner-Appellant,
STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent

         2016 Opinion No. 25

         Editorial Note:

         This decision is not final until exception of the 21 day petition for rehearing period. Pursuant to rule 118 of the Idaho Appellate Rules.

          Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bingham County. Hon. Darren B. Simpson, District Judge.

          Judgment denying petition for post-conviction relief, affirmed.

         Lawrence James Crow, Boise, Pro se appellant.

         Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; John C. McKinney, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.


         MELANSON, Chief Judge

         Lawrence James Crow appeals from the district court's judgment denying relief on Crow's petition for post-conviction relief. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.



         Crow was charged with attempted first degree murder, I.C. § § 18-4001, 18-4002, 18-4003(a), 18-4004 and 18-306; domestic battery involving traumatic injury in the presence of children, I.C. § § 18-918(2)(a) and (b) and 18-918(4); use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, I.C. § 19-2520; and infliction of great bodily injury, I.C. § 19-2520B. Crow entered an Alford [1] plea to attempted first degree murder and the state agreed to dismiss the remaining charges and enhancements. The district court sentenced Crow to a unified term of fifteen years, with a minimum period of confinement of nine years. The district court also imposed a fine of $5000 pursuant to I.C. § 19-5307.[2] Crow filed an I.C.R. 35 motion for reduction of his sentence, which was denied by the district court. On appeal, Crow argued that the $5000 fine was not lawful, that his sentence was excessive, and that the district court erred by denying his I.C.R. 35 motion. In an unpublished opinion, this Court reduced the fine to $2500, the maximum lawful amount, and otherwise affirmed Crow's sentence and the denial of his I.C.R. 35 motion. State v. Crow, Docket No. 40073, (Ct.App. Dec. 31, 2013).

         On April 5, 2013, Crow filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. After appointing counsel for Crow, the district court stayed the post-conviction case pending completion of the direct appeal. After the remittitur was filed in the appeal, the district court held an evidentiary hearing on Crow's post-conviction claims and denied Crow's petition. Crow appeals.



         A petition for post-conviction relief initiates a proceeding that is civil in nature. I.C. § 19-4907; 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). 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). 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 to the facts. Nellsch v. State, 122 Idaho 426, 434, 835 P.2d 661, 669 (Ct.App. 1992).

         A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel may properly be brought under the post-conviction procedure act. Murray, 121 Idaho at 924-25, 828 P.2d at 1329-30. To prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the petitioner must show that the attorney's performance was deficient and that the petitioner was prejudiced by the deficiency. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984); Hassett v. State, 127 Idaho 313, 316, 900 P.2d 221, 224 (Ct.App. 1995). To establish a deficiency, the petitioner has the burden of showing that the attorney's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. Aragon v. State, 114 Idaho 758, 760, 760 P.2d 1174, 1176 (1988). Where, as here, the petitioner was convicted upon a guilty plea, to satisfy the prejudice element, the petitioner must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, he or she would not have pled guilty and would have insisted on going to trial. Plant v. State, 143 Idaho 758, 762, 152 P.3d 629, 633 (Ct.App. 2006). This Court has long adhered to the proposition that tactical or strategic decisions of trial counsel will not be second-guessed on appeal unless those decisions are based on inadequate preparation, ignorance of relevant law, or other shortcomings capable of objective evaluation. Howard v. State, 126 Idaho 231, 233, 880 P.2d 261, 263 (Ct.App. 1994).

         The United States Supreme Court, addressing the issue of counsel's advice prior to a defendant's ...

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