Opinion No. 6
from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District,
State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Samuel A. Hoagland, District
summarily dismissing amended petition for post-conviction
D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Jenny C.
Swinford, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen,
Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
Stephen Thomas appeals from the district court's judgment
summarily dismissing Thomas's amended petition for
post-conviction relief. Specifically, Thomas maintains the
district court erred in dismissing Thomas's petition
because his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by
failing to investigate an affirmative defense prior to
advising Thomas to plead guilty. For the reasons explained
below, we affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
pled guilty to two counts of transfer of body fluid which may
contain the HIV virus, Idaho Code § 39-608. He filed a
timely amended petition for post-conviction relief, alleging
ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Specifically, and
among other claims, Thomas alleged his trial counsel was
ineffective in failing to investigate the affirmative defense
of medical advice. The district court summarily dismissed
Thomas's amended petition, reasoning that if trial
counsel filed a motion regarding the medical advice defense,
it would have been denied, and therefore there were no
genuine issues of material fact and neither
Strickland prong was violated. Thomas appeals from
the district court's judgment summarily dismissing
Thomas's amended petition.
contends the district court erred in summarily dismissing his
claim of ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to
investigate the affirmative defense of medical advice. 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). Like a 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. 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. Dunlap v. State, 141
Idaho 50, 56, 106 P.3d 376, 382 (2004). A 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). Rather, a petition for post-conviction relief 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. Wolf v.
State, 152 Idaho 64, 67, 266 P.3d 1169, 1172 (Ct. App.
Code Section 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. 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. Roman v.
State, 125 Idaho 644, 647, 873 P.2d 898, 901 (Ct. App.
1994); Baruth v. Gardner, 110 Idaho 156, 159, 715
P.2d 369, 372 (Ct. App. 1986). Moreover, the district court,
as the trier of fact, is not constrained to draw inferences
in favor of the party opposing the motion for summary
disposition; rather, the district court is free to arrive at
the most probable inferences to be drawn from uncontroverted
evidence. Hayes v. State, 146 Idaho 353, 355, 195
P.3d 712, 714 (Ct. App. 2008). Such inferences will not be
disturbed on appeal if the uncontroverted evidence is
sufficient to justify them. Id.
may be summarily dismissed if the petitioner's
allegations are clearly disproven by the record of the
criminal proceedings, if the petitioner has not presented
evidence making a prima facie case as to each essential
element of the claims, or if the petitioner's allegations
do not justify relief as a matter of law. Kelly v.
State, 149 Idaho 517, 521, 236 P.3d 1277, 1281 (2010);
DeRushé v. State, 146 Idaho 599, 603, 200
P.3d 1148, 1152 (2009). Thus, summary dismissal of a claim
for post-conviction relief is appropriate when the court can
conclude, as a matter of law, that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief even with all disputed facts construed in
the petitioner's favor. For this reason, summary
dismissal of a post-conviction petition may be appropriate
even when the State does not controvert the petitioner's
evidence. See Roman, 125 Idaho at 647, 873 P.2d at
if the petition, affidavits, and other evidence supporting
the petition allege facts that, if true, would entitle the
petitioner to relief, the post-conviction claim may not be
summarily dismissed. Charboneau v. State, 140 Idaho
789, 792, 102 P.3d 1108, 1111 (2004); Sheahan v.
State, 146 Idaho 101, 104, 190 P.3d 920, 923 (Ct. App.
2008). If a genuine issue of material fact is presented, an