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Johnson v. State

Supreme Court of North Dakota

January 15, 2015

Robert L. Johnson, Petitioner and Appellant
v.
State of North Dakota, Respondent and Appellee

Appeal from the District Court of Stutsman County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable John T. Paulson, Judge.

Mark T. Blumer, Fargo, ND, for petitioner and appellant; submitted on brief.

Frederick R. Fremgen (argued), Jamestown, ND, for respondent and appellee.

Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Dale V. Sandstrom, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by McEvers, Justice.

OPINION

Page 633

McEvers, Justice.

[¶1] Robert L. Johnson appeals from a district court judgment summarily dismissing his application for post-conviction relief. We affirm the district court's summary dismissal of Johnson's post-conviction relief application as untimely.

I

[¶2] In 1999, Robert L. Johnson was charged with one count of simple assault and two counts of contact by bodily fluid or excrement. Johnson was tried and convicted of all three counts. Because of improper jury instructions, Johnson's convictions were reversed and remanded in State v. Johnson, 2001 ND 184, 636 N.W.2d 391. On August 16, 2002, Johnson was again convicted of all three counts. On December 11, 2002, a judgment of conviction was entered. Johnson appealed to this Court, but later withdrew his appeal after accepting a plea bargain agreement pertaining to the disposition of the appealed charges. This Court dismissed Johnson's appeal on August 13, 2003. On March 21, 2014, Johnson applied for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. In support of his application, Johnson submitted a letter dated July 17, 2013, from Johnson's 2002 trial

Page 634

attorney acknowledging he made some mistakes regarding his representation of Johnson. The State moved to dismiss on the grounds that the time for filing a post-conviction relief application had expired. The district court dismissed Johnson's application as barred by the two-year statute of limitations for post-conviction relief applications. Johnson appealed.

II

[¶3] Johnson argues the district court erred in summarily dismissing his application for post-conviction relief as untimely because (1) the July 17, 2013, letter written by his trial attorney qualifies as newly discovered evidence, and (2) Johnson suffered from a mental disease that precluded timely assertion of the application for post-conviction relief, which fall within the statutory exceptions to the two-year limit for filing post-conviction relief applications.

[¶4] " Post-conviction relief proceedings are civil in nature and governed by the North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure." Kinsella v. State, 2013 ND 238, ¶ 4, 840 N.W.2d 625. This Court's review of a district court's summary dismissal of a ...


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