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Mark Christian Palmer v. State of North Dakota

May 17, 2012

MARK CHRISTIAN PALMER,
PETITIONER AND APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA,
RESPONDENT AND APPELLEE



Appeal from the District Court of McHenry County, Northeast Judicial District, the Honorable John C. McClintock, Judge.

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

N.D. Supreme CourtPalmer v. State, 2012 ND 98

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]

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REMANDED.

Opinion of the Court by Crothers, Justice.

[¶1] Mark Palmer appeals from a district court order denying his motion for relief from an order denying his application for post-conviction relief. We remand to the district court for an explanation of its decision.

I

[¶2] In 2001, Palmer was convicted of four counts of gross sexual imposition. Palmer appealed, and this Court affirmed his convictions. State v. Palmer, 2002 ND 5, 638 N.W.2d 18. In February 2011, Palmer applied for post-conviction relief, and an attorney was appointed to represent him. On March 1, 2011, the State responded to Palmer's application and moved for summary dismissal. Palmer did not respond to the State's motion. On May 18, 2011, the district court denied Palmer's application.

[¶3] On May 23, 2011, Palmer's attorney moved on his behalf for relief from the order denying his post-conviction application under N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1), arguing Palmer was entitled to relief from the order because of mistake or inadvertence. In the motion, Palmer's attorney alleged she was under extreme duress in her personal life, she believed she had requested more time to respond to the State's motion, and she mistakenly failed to request additional time. On June 9, 2011, the State responded to the motion for relief. On October 5, 2011, the district court denied the motion.

II

[¶4] Palmer argues the district court abused its discretion in denying his N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion for relief from the order denying his application for post-conviction relief.

[¶5] Rule 60(b)(1), N.D.R.Civ.P., permits a court to grant a party relief from a judgment or order if it was the product of "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." We will not reverse a court's decision on a motion for relief unless the court abused its discretion in deciding whether the party established sufficient grounds for disturbing the judgment or order. See American Bank Ctr. v. Schuh, 2010 ND 124, ¶ 9, 784 N.W.2d 468. A court "'abuses its discretion when it acts in an arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable manner, or when it misinterprets or misapplies the law.'" Id. (quoting Shull v. Walcker, 2009 ND 142, ¶ 13, 770 N.W.2d 274).

[ΒΆ6] Here, however, the district court did not explain its rationale for denying Palmer's motion for relief. The order denying Palmer's motion states, "The motion for relief, pursuant to Rule 60(b)(1) of the North Dakota Rules of Criminal [sic] Procedure and dated May 23, 2011, is in all things ...


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