Michael L. McLAUGHLIN, Appellant,
STATE of Alaska, Appellee.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 8, 2009.
Michael L. McLaughlin, pro se, Kenai, Appellant.
Kenneth M. Rosenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Talis J. Colberg, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.
Before : COATS, Chief Judge, and MANNHEIMER and BOLGER, Judges.
COATS, Chief Judge.
Michael L. McLaughlin was convicted of felony driving under the influence  on May 5, 2004, after pleading no contest. Nearly three years later, on March 21, 2007, McLaughlin filed a pro se application for post-conviction relief. McLaughlin admitted that he had filed the application outside of the statute of limitations. But he relied on Alaska Civil Rule 60(b) to argue that he was entitled to litigate the merits of his application despite the fact that it was untimely because the judgment was void. Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman dismissed McLaughlin's application on the ground that it was untimely. McLaughlin appeals. We affirm.
Why we conclude that McLaughlin cannot use Civil Rule 60(b) to circumvent the statute of limitations for a post-conviction relief application
Alaska Statute 12.72.010 and Alaska Criminal Rule 35.1 define the grounds and the procedures (other than a direct appeal) by which a person who is convicted of a criminal offense can attack a conviction. Alaska Statute 12.72.020 provides a statute of limitations on applications for post-conviction relief. McLaughlin admits that he filed his application beyond this statute of limitations. However, McLaughlin relies on portions of Civil Rule 60(b) to argue that the statute of limitations should not bar him from challenging his conviction as void.
Civil Rule 60(b) authorizes a court to relieve a party from " a final judgment, order or
proceeding" for listed reasons in a civil case. Alaska Statute 12.72.010 and Criminal Rule 35.1 apply when a person who has been convicted of a criminal offense seeks relief from that conviction. Criminal Rule 35.1(b) states that post-conviction relief is " intended to provide a standard procedure for accomplishing the objectives of all of the constitutional, statutory or common law writs."  Thus, AS 12.72.010 and Criminal Rule 35.1 apply to the collateral review of McLaughlin's criminal conviction-Civil Rule 60(b) does not.
It is true that Criminal Rule 35.1(g) provides that the civil rules (except Rule 26(a)(1)-(4)) apply in post-conviction relief actions. But this use of the rules of civil procedure is meant merely to provide an orderly process for determining post-conviction claims. The civil rules do not create an alternate procedure for seeking relief from a criminal judgment. The procedure for collateral attack of a criminal judgment is explicitly set out in AS 12.72.010 and Criminal Rule 35.1(a).
Alaska Statute 12.72.010 and Criminal Rule 35.1 broadly define the grounds upon which a person may institute a proceeding for post-conviction relief. And McLaughlin has not argued that his claims would have fallen outside the scope of that statute and rule if he had filed them on time. He cannot now use the civil rules to circumvent the statute of limitations stated in AS 12.72.020. The legislature did not intend for a person to be able to evade this statute of limitations simply by claiming that Civil Rule 60(b) applies.
The judgment of the superior court is AFFIRMED.
MANNHEIMER, Judge, concurring.
MANNHEIMER, Judge, concurring.
The question presented in this appeal is whether a criminal defendant can employ Alaska Civil Rule 60(b) to circumvent the limitation periods specified in AS 12.72.020 for initiating a petition for post-conviction relief. I agree with my colleagues that Civil Rule 60(b) can not be employed ...