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Black v. State

Court of Appeals of Idaho

March 6, 2019

MARK BLACK, Petitioner-Appellant,
STATE OF IDAHO, Defendant-Respondent.

          Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Jason D. Scott, District Judge.

         Judgment dismissing petition for post-conviction relief, affirmed.

          John C. Lynn, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kale D. Gans, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.


         Mark Black appeals from the district court's judgment dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief. Black challenges the district court's order granting the State's motion for summary dismissal of his petition. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.



         Black pled guilty to trafficking in heroin, Idaho Code § 37-2732B(a)(6)(B). The district court entered judgment and imposed a unified fifteen-year sentence with ten years determinate. Black did not appeal.

         Thereafter, Black filed a petition for post-conviction relief. He asserted two grounds for relief in the petition. First, Black argued I.C. § 37-2732B(a)(6)(B) is unconstitutional on nine separate theories. Second, Black argued his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a motion to dismiss challenging the constitutionality of I.C. § 37-2732B(a)(6)(B). The State moved for summary dismissal of Black's petition. The district court held a hearing on the State's motion for summary dismissal. Following the hearing, the court ordered the parties to file post-hearing briefing to address whether Black's first claim fails because (1) he had waived his right to directly challenge the statute's constitutionality pursuant to I.C. § 19-4908, [1] or (2) he had forfeited the claim in post-conviction proceedings pursuant to I.C. § 19-4901(b).[2] The district court concluded Black had failed to raise a challenge to the constitutionality of I.C. § 37-2732B(a)(6)(B) in the trial court or on direct appeal, and thus pursuant to I.C. § 19-4901(b) Black had forfeited his direct challenge to the statute in post-conviction proceedings. The court also concluded Black's ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed because Black had been unable to prove that his trial counsel's performance was deficient. Thus, the court granted the State's motion for summary dismissal and dismissed Black's petition for post-conviction relief with prejudice. Black timely appeals.



         Black asserts the district court erred by summarily dismissing his claim that § 37-2732B(a)(6)(B) is unconstitutional and his claim that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. The State asserts the district court did not err in dismissing the petition for post-conviction relief. We agree.

         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 Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 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 ...

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