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Wheeler v. State

Supreme Court of Idaho

June 21, 2017

JEREMY RAY WHEELER, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.

         Appeal from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bannock County. Hon. David C. Nye, District Judge.

         The district court's order of dismissal is vacated and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Russell J. Spencer argued.

          HORTON, Justice.

         This is an appeal from the district court's summary dismissal of Jeremy Ray Wheeler's petition for post-conviction relief. We vacate the district court's order of dismissal and remand for further proceedings.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 26, 2014, Wheeler was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine in violation of Idaho Code section 37-2732(c)(1). Due to prior convictions of a similar nature, he was also charged with being a persistent violator as defined in Idaho Code section 19-2514. Wheeler filed a motion to suppress evidence that was denied by the district court. Consistent with Idaho Criminal Rule 11(e), Wheeler completed a written plea advisory form on March 23, 2015. There, he indicated that he was entering a conditional guilty plea, reserving his right to appeal the issue of his "motion to surpress [sic]." He appeared before the district court the next day and entered his guilty plea to the charge of possessing methamphetamine in exchange for dismissal of another criminal matter and the persistent violator allegation. On May 11, 2015, Wheeler was sentenced to serve seven years, with three years fixed, and the district court retained jurisdiction for one year. On August 13, 2015, the district court relinquished jurisdiction at Wheeler's request.

         Wheeler's trial counsel filed a notice of appeal on September 14, 2015. The notice of appeal purported to challenge both the denial of Wheeler's motion to suppress and his sentence. The State Appellate Public Defender ("SAPD") was appointed to represent Wheeler on appeal. Wheeler's SAPD attorney informed him that his appeal from the denial of the motion to suppress was untimely and recommended that Wheeler file a petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failing to timely appeal from the denial of his motion to suppress.

         On February 2, 2016, Wheeler filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The State moved for summary dismissal of the petition. The district court granted the motion, finding that Wheeler's claim that trial counsel had failed to timely appeal from the denial of the motion to suppress was groundless: "[T]he Court again notes that an appeal was timely filed, the Court has verified this with the Supreme Court of Idaho, and the appeal is ongoing at the time of this decision. Wheeler's [claim based upon a failure to timely appeal] must be dismissed as it is patently false."

         Wheeler timely appealed from the dismissal of his petition. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's dismissal of Wheeler's petition for post-conviction relief. We granted Wheeler's pro se petition for review. We thereafter appointed the SAPD to represent Wheeler in proceedings before this Court. We granted the SAPD leave to file a supplemental brief on review which we have considered in deciding this appeal.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "While this Court gives serious consideration to the views of the Idaho Court of Appeals when considering a case on review from that court, it reviews the district court's decision directly." State v. Watkins, 148 Idaho 418, 420, 224 P.3d 485, 487 (2009) (citing Mattoon v. Blades, 145 Idaho 634, 636, 181 P.3d 1242, 1244 (2008)).

         Because one judge presided over the plea hearing, and a different judge presided over the suppression hearing and sentencing, "this Court has determined that its role on appeal is to freely review the evidence and weigh the evidence in the same manner as the trial court would do when ruling on a motion for new trial." Shabinaw v. Brown, 131 Idaho 747, 751, 963 ...


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