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Odom v. State

April 6, 2010

CHARLES ODOM, PETITIONER AND APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA, RESPONDENT AND APPELLEE



Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Sonna M. Anderson, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandstrom, Justice.

AFFIRMED.

[¶1] Charles Odom appeals a district court order denying his application for post-conviction relief. Odom argues he was denied effective assistance of counsel. We affirm the district court's order.

I.

[¶2] In January 2004, police officers responded to a 911 call from Riddle Johnson, a man who stated he had locked himself in a bathroom in a Bismarck motel room because he was afraid of being assaulted. When the officers arrived, Johnson told them he had locked himself in the bathroom because Odom had threatened to assault him if he did not pay Odom money owed for drugs. Police officers entered the motel room, which was registered in Galen Smith's name, and found drug paraphernalia in plain view. Smith, Odom, and Johnson were in the room. Upon further investigation, police found a small amount of marijuana in a pickup in the parking lot. The pickup did not belong to Odom. In December 2004, the State's Attorney's office prepared a complaint charging Odom with felony possession of drug paraphernalia for use with methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The State's Attorney's office also prepared an arrest warrant.

[¶3] In April 2005, a probable cause hearing on the issuance of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant was held, during which Officer Kenan Kaizer testified. Some of his testimony was incorrect. He testified, "Riddle explained to officers that he had gone to the motel room which was registered in the name of Charles Odom." The motel room was not registered in Odom's name. Officer Kaizer also inaccurately testified marijuana was found in the room. The marijuana was found in the pickup truck, which did not belong to Odom, not in the room. Officer Kaizer accurately testified that Johnson had told officers Odom had threatened to assault him if he did not pay the drug debt before leaving the motel room. Officer Kaizer also accurately testified officers received consent to search the room, and drug paraphernalia with residue was found in the room. Officer Kaizer testified the officers initially believed the residue was methamphetamine, but the residue tested positive for cocaine. The district court found probable cause to charge Odom with possession of drug paraphernalia for use with methamphetamine or cocaine and to charge him with possession of marijuana. The district court issued the complaint and arrest warrant.

[¶4] In December 2005, a Bismarck motel manager informed police officers that Odom was staying at the motel. The officers went to the motel, executed the arrest warrant, and, with Odom's consent, searched his motel room, where they found a large amount of crack cocaine in a locked safe. Odom was charged with felony possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and felony possession of drug paraphernalia.

[¶5] After a January 2006 preliminary hearing for both the original charges and the second set of charges, he was bound over for trial. Odom moved to suppress the evidence found in the safe. The district court suppressed the evidence, but this Court reversed the suppression order and remanded for further proceedings. State v. Odom, 2006 ND 209, 722 N.W.2d 370. In September 2006, Odom pled guilty to the original charges and was sentenced to time served. In June 2007, Odom entered a conditional plea of guilty to the second set of charges after the district court denied his motion to suppress the evidence. He was sentenced to twenty years' incarceration. This Court summarily affirmed the criminal judgment. State v. Odom, 2008 ND 2, 747 N.W.2d 136.

[¶6] In March 2008, Odom petitioned for post-conviction relief, arguing he was denied effective assistance of counsel. Odom claimed his attorneys should have requested or reviewed a transcript of the April 2005 probable cause hearing during which Officer Kaizer provided the judge with incorrect information supporting the complaint. A hearing was held in May 2009. The district court found Odom's counsel's representation did not fall below an objective standard of reasonableness. The district court also found that although some incorrect testimony was presented at the probable cause hearing, other correct testimony was given that would support probable cause. The district court denied Odom's petition.

[¶7] The district court had jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, and N.D.C.C. § 29-32.1-03. The appeal is timely under N.D.R.App.P. 4(d). This Court has jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, §§ 2 and 6, and N.D.C.C. § 29-32.1-14.

II.

[¶8] Odom argues the district court erred in finding he failed to establish that his counsel were ineffective for not requesting a transcript of the probable cause hearing for the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. He contends the failure to obtain a copy of the transcript prevented him from attacking the complaint and warrant that resulted in his convictions.

A.

[¶9] Post-conviction relief proceedings are civil in nature and are governed by the North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure. Sambursky v. State, 2008 ND 133, ¶ 7, 751 N.W.2d 247. In Roth v. State, 2007 ND 112, 735 N.W.2d 882, this Court summarized the petitioner's ...


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