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Ratliff v. State

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 20, 2016

Allen Ratliff, Petitioner and Appellant
v.
State of North Dakota, Respondent and Appellee

         Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Debbie Gordon Kleven, Judge.

          Laura C. Ringsak, for petitioner and appellant.

          Carmell F. Mattison, Assistant State's Attorney, for respondent and appellee.

          OPINION

          VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

         [¶ 1] Allen Ratliff appealed from an order dismissing his application for postconviction relief. We affirm, because the district court's decision denying the application is based on findings of fact that are not clearly erroneous.

         I

         [¶ 2] A jury found Ratliff and two others guilty of robbery, burglary, two counts of aggravated assault, theft of property, and felonious restraint in connection with an April 2012 home invasion in Grand Forks. This Court affirmed the convictions in State v. Ratliff, 2014 ND 156, 849 N.W.2d 183. In October 2014, Ratliff filed an application for postconviction relief alleging numerous grounds, including ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing during which Ratliff, his sister, his trial attorney, and the prosecutor testified, the district court in a 10-page decision denied the application.

         II

         [¶ 3] Ratliff argues the district court erred in denying his application for postconviction relief.

         [¶ 4] In Syvertson v. State, 2005 ND 128, ¶ 4, 699 N.W.2d 855, we described the standard for reviewing denials of applications for postconviction relief:

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.

(quoting Greywind v. State, 2004 ND 213, ¶ 5, 689 N.W.2d 390).

         A

         [¶ 5] Ratliff argues the district court should have granted his application for postconviction relief because his trial ...


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