Monday, July 23, 2007

Summary 2007 WY 113

Summary of Decision issued July 18, 2007

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses "Universal Citation" and was given an "official" citation when issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. You will note that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you need to provide a pinpoint citation, the universal portion of the citation will use that paragraph number. The pinpoint citation in the P.3d portion should include the reporter page number. If you need assistance, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court

Case Name: Hauck v. State

Citation: 2007 WY 113

Docket Number: 06-216

Upon Petition for Writ of Review/Certiorari

Representing Appellant (Petitioner): Diane Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Kerin, Post-Conviction Counsel, State Public Defender Program.

Representing Appellee (Respondent): Patrick J. Crank, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Date of Decision: July 18, 2007

Issues: Whether the district court erred in summarily dismissing Petitioner’s petition for post-conviction relief from a conviction for felony property destruction.

Holdings: The tenets of post-conviction relief are well established by Wyo. Stat. 7-14-101 through 7-14-108 (2005). Post-conviction relief is available in limited circumstances to redress constitutional errors occurring in the proceedings resulting in the defendant’s conviction. Accordingly, constitutional errors relating to the finding of guilt are open for consideration in a post-conviction relief action, whereas claims of error pertaining to sentencing are not.
One of the issues raised by Petitioner in his petition below was whether he had received appropriate credit on his sentence for time served. The district court dismissed this issue as being not cognizable in a post-conviction relief action. This determination by the district court is correct and that decision is affirmed.
However, Petitioner’s other claims do not fall outside the scope of § 7-14-101(b). Petitioner’s challenges to his competency, his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the use of restraints at trial, and prosecutorial misconduct all implicate constitutional protections and relate to the finding of guilt. Therefore the district court’s determination on those challenges are reversed and the matter is remanded for further consideration.
The district court also ruled that Petitioner’s claims were barred from consideration in the post-conviction relief action because they could have been raised in a direct appeal from conviction. The district court’s ruling generally would be correct in light of Petitioner’s failure to timely appeal his conviction. In this case, however, we find that Petitioner was effectively denied his direct appeal. The right to appeal, if that right is granted by a state, as Wyoming has, is a due process right. Because of its constitutional magnitude, the right must be zealously protected. The record shows that the district court, after imposing sentence, abrogated its duty to protect this right by failing to advise Petitioner of his right to appeal his conviction as mandated by W.R.Cr.P. 32(c)(3). The record does not otherwise reflect that Petitioner knew of his right to appeal and the process involved to effectuate that right. Under these extenuating circumstances, where the district court undermined Petitioner’s ability to take a timely direct appeal, district court’s mistake cannot be allowed to prejudice the Petitioner. Given these specific facts, Petitioner’s failure to appeal cannot be relied upon as grounds for summarily dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief. The district court’s ruling that Petitioner’s claims were procedurally barred is hereby reversed.
Petitioner’s claim that he should have received credit on his sentence for time served is not cognizable in a post-conviction relief action and, consequently, the district court’s dismissal of this claim is affirmed. The district court improperly dismissed Petitioner’s other claims. Its rulings concerning those claims are reversed. This case is remanded to the district court for further proceedings.

J. Golden delivered the opinion for the court.

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