Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Thompson v. State

Court of Appeals of Idaho

February 20, 2018

MICHAEL JARED THOMPSON, Petitioner-Appellant,
STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.

         2018 Opinion No. 5

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Minidoka County. Hon. Jonathan P. Brody, District Judge.

         Order of summary dismissal of petition for post-conviction relief, reversed and case remanded.

          Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, LLP; Deborah A. Whipple, Boise, for appellant.

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

          GRATTON, JUDGE.

         Michael Jared Thompson appeals from the district court's order summarily dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief. Specifically, Thompson argues that his claims raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether trial counsel was ineffective in basing the defense in an involuntary manslaughter case on the existence of an intervening, superseding cause without requesting proximate and intervening, superseding cause instructions. Similarly, Thompson argues he properly presented a prima facie case of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for the failure to pursue the jury instruction issue on direct appeal. For the reasons explained below, the district court's order summarily dismissing Thompson's petition for post-conviction relief is reversed and the case is remanded for an evidentiary hearing.



         The factual background is derived from this Court's unpublished opinion on direct appeal:

Four friends went out drinking at two local bars in Minidoka County. The victim, Michael Blair, and his longtime friend, Kristen Kull, began to argue. By this time all four individuals were highly intoxicated. Thompson became irritated by the arguing and decided that they should all leave. The four friends left in Thompson's truck. Thompson drove, Kull sat in the front passenger seat, Blair sat directly behind the driver's seat, and Khali Jones sat behind the front passenger seat. Blair and Kull continued to argue as they drove towards Thompson's house. Thompson interjected, "If one of you don't shut up, I'm going to shoot somebody." Jones could see that he had a gun in a holster. Blair laughed. Thompson responded, "You think I'm kidding?" He then removed the pistol from the holster and cocked the gun twice. Then holding the gun in his right hand, Thompson rested his elbow on the center console and pointed the gun up and backwards. Blair, who was known to be a jokester, responded, "If you're going to shoot somebody, it might as well be me. End my miserable existence." Blair then slid over, placed his hand on Thompson's hand, and put his mouth around the barrel of the gun; the gun fired. The shot likely killed Blair instantly. Thompson told the others that Blair pulled the trigger. Jones could not see whose finger was on the trigger and she did not know who pulled it. Kull could not remember what occurred that night.
The State charged Thompson with involuntary manslaughter, with an enhancement for using a deadly weapon. After the above information was presented at trial, the jury found Thompson guilty as charged. The district court sentenced Thompson to fifteen years with five years determinate. Thompson subsequently filed an Idaho Criminal Rule 35 motion for leniency. The district court denied his motion.

See State v. Thompson, Docket No. 40796 (Ct. App. Nov. 7, 2014) (unpublished). On appeal, we affirmed Thompson's judgment of conviction and sentence for involuntary manslaughter with an enhancement for using a deadly weapon.

         Thompson then filed a petition for post-conviction relief. Thompson's first claim in his petition was that his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to request proximate cause and intervening, superseding cause jury instructions.[1] Thompson's second claim is not at issue. Thompson's third claim was that his appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to adequately review the trial record and in failing to raise on appeal the issue of whether the district court's failure to instruct the jury on proximate and intervening, superseding cause constituted fundamental error.

         In its motion for summary dismissal, the State responded to Thompson's first claim by asserting that the jury was properly instructed on the law. The State argued that it was not required to prove or establish that Thompson's actions were the proximate cause of the victim's death, only that Thompson operated "any firearm or deadly weapon in a reckless, careless or negligent manner which produces death." According to the State, it would not matter if the deceased was the one who pulled the trigger because "introducing" the weapon in an unstable situation in which somebody dies due to that weapon constitutes the crime. The State also argued that "the giving of a jury instruction regarding proximate cause, as a matter of law, would not have altered the verdict."

         The district court agreed with the State that the giving of a proximate cause jury instruction would not have altered the verdict, but declined to rule that proximate cause was not required under the statute. The district court reasoned that although Idaho Code § 18-4006(2), the statute defining involuntary manslaughter, does not expressly require the proof of proximate cause, the plain meaning analysis of the term "produces" in the statute requires a finding by the jury that the person convicted produced--or caused--the death. The district court further explained that because the jury was instructed as to causation, as it was implied in the term "produces, " it is unclear why an additional jury instruction addressing proximate cause was necessary or would have changed the outcome. Moreover, the district court found that Thompson had failed to demonstrate that any prejudice would have resulted from trial counsel's failure to propose proximate cause or intervening, superseding cause jury instructions. Thompson appeals from the district court's summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief.



         A petition for post-conviction relief initiates a proceeding that is civil in nature. Idaho Code § 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. 2011).

         Idaho 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.

         Claims 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 901.

         Conversely, 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.