from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast
Central Judicial District, the Honorable Debbie Gordon
A. Gereszek, Grand Forks, MN, for petitioner and appellant.
F. Mattison (argued), Assistant State's Attorney, and
Kyle A. Markwardt (on brief), third-year law student, under
the Rule on Limited Practice of Law by Law Students, Grand
Forks County State's Attorney Office, Grand Forks, ND,
for respondent and appellee.
Ronning Kapsner, Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Dale
V. Sandstrom, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court
by Kapsner, Justice.
Ronning Kapsner, Justice.
[¶1] A jury found Nathan Ratliff guilty of
robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, theft of property, and
felonious restraint. We upheld Ratliff's conviction in
State v. Ratliff, 2014 ND 156, 849 N.W.2d 183.
Ratliff then filed an application for post-conviction relief
in October 2014. Ratliff was appointed counsel, and counsel
filed a supplemental application. The district court held a
hearing and dismissed Ratliff's application. Ratliff now
appeals from the district court's order. He argues he
received ineffective assistance of counsel, and he was
improperly sentenced as an habitual offender. We affirm.
Post-conviction relief proceedings are civil in nature and
are governed by the North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure. In
post-conviction relief proceedings, a district court's
findings of fact will not be disturbed unless they are
clearly erroneous under N.D.R.Civ.P. 52(a). A finding of fact
is clearly erroneous if it is induced by an erroneous view of
the law, if it is not supported by the evidence, or if,
although there is some evidence to support it, a reviewing
court is left with a definite and firm conviction that a
mistake has been made. Questions of law are fully reviewable
on appeal of a post-conviction proceeding.
Syvertson v. State, 2005 ND 128,
¶ 4, 699 N.W.2d 855 (quoting Greywind v.
State, 2004 ND 213, ¶ 5, 689 N.W.2d 390).
[¶2] Ratliff argues he was provided
ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel
did not demand a speedy trial and did not call Ratliff to
testify at trial. " Whether a petitioner received
ineffective assistance of counsel is a mixed question of law
and fact and is fully reviewable on appeal."
Sambursky v. State, 2008 ND 133, ¶ 7,
751 N.W.2d 247.
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution
guarantees a criminal defendant the right to effective
assistance of counsel. In order to prevail on a
post-conviction claim of ineffective assistance, the
petitioner bears a heavy burden. The petitioner must prove
that (1) counsel's representation fell below an objective
standard of reasonableness, and (2) the petitioner was
prejudiced by counsel's deficient performance.
As to the first prong, the petitioner must overcome the
strong presumption that counsel's representation fell
within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.
An attorney's performance is measured considering the
prevailing professional norms. In assessing the
reasonableness of counsel's performance, courts must
consciously attempt to limit the distorting effect of
hindsight. Courts must consider all the circumstances and
decide whether there were errors so serious that defendant
was not accorded the " counsel" guaranteed by the
In order to meet the second prong, the petitioner must show
there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would
have been different. The petitioner must prove not only that
counsel's representation was ineffective, but must
specify how and where counsel was incompetent and the
probable different result. If it is easier to dispose of an
ineffective assistance of counsel claim on the ground of lack
of sufficient prejudice, that course should be followed.
State, 2015 ND 279, ¶ 8,
871 N.W.2d 595 (quoting Roth v.State, 2007
ND 112, ¶ ¶ 7-9, 7 ...