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Alexie v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

July 21, 2017

ARTHUR A. ALEXIE SR., Appellant,
v.
STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.

         Appeal from the Superior Court, Fourth Judicial District, Bethel, Trial Court No. 4BE-12-171 CI, Dwayne M. McConnell, Judge.

          Maureen E. Dey, Gazewood & Weiner, P.C., Fairbanks, for the Appellant.

          June Stein, Assistant Attorney General, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

          Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Coats, Senior Judge.[*]

          OPINION

          COATS, Senior Judge

         Arthur A. Alexie Sr. filed an application for post-conviction relief seeking to withdraw his plea after sentencing. The superior court summarily dismissed Alexie's application. He was seeking to withdraw his plea after sentencing. On appeal, among other things, Alexie contends that he presented a prima facie case that he did not understand the terms of the plea agreement and consequently did not enter his plea knowingly and voluntarily. For the reasons explained in this decision, we conclude that Alexie did plead a prima facie case that he did not understand the terms of the plea agreement and, therefore, we remand this case to the superior court for further proceedings on Alexie's petition.

         (Alexie raises several other contentions, but all of these appear to be variations on his claim that his plea was not knowing or voluntary.)

         Background

         On December 7, 2011, Alexie pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Alexie entered this plea in accordance with an agreement with the State. He had originally been charged with one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and with two counts of attempted second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. There were two victims: an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old.

         Alexie's case had been pending for approximately a year and a half before the change-of-plea hearing. During that time, and at the change of plea, he was represented by an assistant public defender. At the hearing, Alexie, after a standard change-of-plea colloquy with the court, entered a plea of guilty to one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor, a class C felony.[1] At the end of the colloquy, the superior court found that Alexie had a full understanding of his rights, and that he had made a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of those rights.

          Alexie was sentenced that same day to serve 5 years, no time suspended. As part of the agreement, Alexie conceded one aggravating factor-that the offense was the most serious. Except under circumstances not present in Alexie's case, the maximum time to serve for a class C felony is 5 years.[2]

         Approximately four months later, in April 2012, Alexie filed an application for post-conviction relief. Although Alexie ostensibly raised several different allegations in his application for post-conviction relief, his pleadings-and particularly his affidavit - made it clear that he wished to withdraw his plea under Alaska Criminal Rule 11(h). That is, Alexie was asserting that withdrawal of his plea was necessary to correct a manifest injustice, in that his attorney did not accurately explain to him the terms of the plea agreement, and that she coerced him to say "guilty" when the court asked him to enter his plea.

         Among other things, Alexie claimed in his application that he was dissatisfied with his trial attorney because she did not adequately communicate with him, nor did she inform him about any plea offers from the State. He alleged he was entitled to withdraw his plea because he was denied the effective assistance of counsel, his plea was involuntary, and the plea was entered without knowledge of the charge, or of the sentence that would be imposed.[3]

         In response to Alexie's pleadings, his former attorney filed an affidavit controverting Alexie's claims. Afterwards, the State moved to dismiss the application, arguing that in light of the colloquy that had occurred at Alexie's change-of-plea hearing, Alexie's claims were "flatly contradicted by the record." Superior Court Judge ...


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