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Koenig v. State

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 22, 2018

Charles Phillip Koenig, 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 E. Greenwood, Judge. AFFIRMED.

          Samuel A. Gereszek, East Grand Forks, MN, for petitioner and appellant.

          Frederick R. Fremgen, State's Attorney, Jamestown, ND, for respondent and appellee.

          OPINION

          VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

         [¶ 1] Charles Phillip Koenig appealed a district court order denying his motion for entry of default judgment and summarily dismissing his application for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] On November 13, 2015, a criminal complaint was filed against Koenig, alleging two counts of possession of a controlled substance and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. On December 15, 2015, Koenig filed a speedy trial request. On January 6, 2016, a preliminary hearing was held. Probable cause was found on all counts followed by arraignment where a criminal information mirroring the complaint with the addition of a witness list was filed. On that same date, the prosecuting attorney recognized and informed the court of Koenig's December 15, 2015 request for speedy trial. Koenig made a second request for speedy trial.

         [¶ 3] On April 1, 2016, a jury trial was held and Koenig was found guilty on all counts. On July 22, 2016, Koenig was sentenced to a total of eighteen months and two years of supervised probation commencing upon release from incarceration. On January 13, 2017, Koenig filed an application for post-conviction relief under N.D.C.C. ch. 29-32.1 alleging ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct because he was denied his right to speedy trial. Koenig also argued his conviction on count 1 (possession of a controlled substance) was obtained through circumstantial evidence. The application was docketed January 19, 2017, and served on the state's attorney's office on January 23, 2017.

         [¶ 4] On February 22, 2017, Koenig filed a notice, motion, brief, and affidavit for default judgment. On February 23, 2017, the State filed an answer to Koenig's application for post-conviction relief. On February 24, 2017, the State filed a response to the motion for default judgment and a motion to dismiss for misuse of process. On March 20, 2017, Koenig filed a response to the State's motion to dismiss. On May 9, 2017, the district court filed a memorandum containing an order denying Koenig's motion for entry of default judgment, an order denying the State's motion to dismiss for misuse of process, and an order for summary disposition of Koenig's application for post-conviction relief.II

         [¶ 5] Koenig argues he is entitled to default judgment because the State's response to his application for post-conviction relief was untimely.

         [¶ 6] Section 29-32.1-06, N.D.C.C., provides "[w]ithin thirty days after the docketing of an application [for post-conviction relief] or within any further time the court may allow, the state shall respond by answer or motion." "If a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise appear and the failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the court may direct the clerk to enter an appropriate default judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant." N.D.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Rule 55(b) provides "[a] default judgment may be entered against the state, its officers, or its agencies only if the claimant establishes a claim or right to relief by evidence that satisfies the court."

         [¶ 7] We have previously stated the thirty-day time limit is not mandatory and "[c]learly, the statute gives the court discretion to allow more than thirty days for the State to respond." Bell v. State, 1998 ND 35, ¶ 24, 575 N.W.2d 211. "A district court abuses its discretion when it acts arbitrarily, unconscionably, or unreasonably, or when its decision is not the product of a rational mental process leading to a reasoned determination." Gamboa v. State, 2005 ND 48, ¶ 6, 693 N.W.2d 21. "Absent proof a petitioner was prejudiced by the delay in proceedings, refusal to grant default judgment is not an abuse of discretion." Id.

         [¶ 8] It is undisputed that (1) Koenig's application for post-conviction relief was docketed on January 19, 2017; (2) Koenig moved for default judgment on February 22, 2017; and (3) the State filed an answer to the application for post-conviction relief on February 23, 2017. Koenig argues, and the State concedes, the State failed to timely respond. However, based on this Court's calculations, the State's reply was timely.

         [¶ 9] Thirty days from January 19, 2017, the day Koenig's application was docketed, is Saturday, February 18, 2017. Under the rules for computing any specified time period, if a filing deadline is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the period continues to run until the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. N.D.R.Civ.P (6)(a)(1)(C). Because day thirty fell on a Saturday, and the following Monday, February 20, 2017, was President's Day, the period continued to run until Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Because service was made electronically, [1] an additional three days are added to the period calculated under N.D.R.Civ.P. 6(a). N.D.R.Civ.P. 6(e)(1). Accordingly, the State had until February 24, 2017, to respond by answer or motion. Because the State responded to Koenig's application on February 23, 2017, its response was timely.

         [¶ 10] Nevertheless, even if the State's response was untimely, we have recognized N.D.C.C. § 29-32.1-06 clearly "gives the court discretion to allow more than thirty days for the State to respond." Bell, 1998 ND 35, ¶ 24, 575 N.W.2d 211. In Bell, the State was several months late in responding to the petitioner's application for post-conviction relief. Id. at ¶¶ 2-6. The petitioner argued he was prejudiced because he remained incarcerated throughout the pendency of the matter. Id. at ¶ 29. We held the State's failure to respond within 30 days after the application was docketed, although serious and distressing, did not entitle the petitioner to default judgment because he was unable to show he suffered any prejudice from the State's untimely response. Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 22-24. Additionally, we held it was not an abuse of discretion for the district court to allow ...


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