Objection and request for judicial review of a decision made by the Clerk of the Appellate Courts. Trial Court No. 3AN-14-1088 CR
Josie W. Garton, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Petitioner.
David T. Jones, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Respondent.
Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge. [*]
This case involves an indigent criminal defendant who is receiving the services of court-appointed counsel (i.e., counsel at public expense). The question before us is whether the defendant must pay attorney's fees under Alaska Appellate Rule 209(b)(6) if their attorney pursues an interlocutory petition for review during the litigation of the case in the trial court, before the trial court has entered a final judgement in the case. For the reasons explained here, we conclude that the answer is no.
Dimitrios Nickolaos Alexiadis was charged with three counts of second-degree assault, and he reached a plea agreement with the State. Under the terms of this agreement, Alexiadis would plead guilty to a single consolidated count of second-degree assault, with open sentencing, but the State would refrain from pursuing any aggravating factors - thus ensuring that Alexiadis would receive no more than 3 years to serve (the upper end of the applicable presumptive sentencing range).
When this plea agreement was initially presented to the superior court, the court accepted Alexiadis's guilty plea. But after the superior court reviewed Alexiadis's pre-sentence report, the court rejected the plea agreement as too lenient. More specifically, the court found that the agreement was too lenient because the State had agreed not to pursue aggravating factors. In essence, the court directed the State to pursue aggravating factors or otherwise modify the charge to increase the allowable sentencing range.
Alexiadis petitioned this Court to review and reverse the superior court's rejection of the plea agreement, arguing that the superior court had no authority to reject the agreement on this ground. The State initially opposed Alexiadis's petition, but the State later decided to support Alexiadis's position and to concede that the superior court had committed error.
In Alexi adis v. State, 355 P.3d 570 (Alaska App. 2015), this Court agreed with Alexiadis (and the State) that the superior court lacked the authority to order the State to pursue aggravating factors if those factors would require a jury trial under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S.Ct. 2531, 159 L.Ed.2d 403 (2004). We therefore reversed the decision of the superior court. Alexiadi s, 355 P.3d at 573.
After we issued our decision, the Clerk of the Appellate Courts notified Alexiadis that she intended to enter judgement against him for attorney's fees in the amount of $1000. The Clerk's action gave rise to a new controversy.
Alaska Appellate Rule 209(b)(6) establishes a schedule of fees that indigent defendants must pay toward the cost of their court-appointed attorney if the defendant pursues various specified types of appellate litigation. The fourth clause of Appellate Rule 209(b)(6) is a residual clause that specifies the attorney's fee to be assessed for "other appellate actions" - i.e., types of appellate litigation that are not specifically covered by any other clause of the rule. Petitions for review fall within this residual clause.
In felony cases (like Alexiadis's case), the attorney's fee for "other appellate actions" is $1000. This is why, after this Court issued our decision in Alexiadis's case, the Clerk of the Appellate Courts notified Alexiadis that she intended to enter a monetary judgement against him in the amount of $1000. Alexiadis has filed an objection to the Clerk's decision.
Alexiadis's objection is premised on the assertion that Appellate Rule 209(b) is based on, and is intended to implement, AS 18.85.120(c) - the statute that authorizes the State of Alaska to enter judgement against indigent defendants for a portion of the cost of their court-appointed counsel. See State v. Albert, 899 P.2d 103, 104 (Alaska 1995), which describes Appellate Rule 209(b) ...