Allen v. State, 083019 IDCCA, 45910

Docket Nº:45910
Opinion Judge:LORELLO, JUDGE
Party Name:WESTON DAVID ALLEN, Petitioner-Appellant, v. STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.
Attorney:Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Brian R. Dickson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Brian R. Dickson argued. Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; John C. McKinney, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. John C. McKinney argued.
Judge Panel:Judge HUSKEY and Judge BRAILSFORD, CONCUR.
Case Date:August 30, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Idaho

WESTON DAVID ALLEN, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.

No. 45910

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 30, 2019

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District, State of Idaho, Washington County. Hon. Susan E. Wiebe, District Judge.

Judgment denying petition for post-conviction relief, affirmed.

Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Brian R. Dickson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Brian R. Dickson argued.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; John C. McKinney, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. John C. McKinney argued.

LORELLO, JUDGE

Weston David Allen appeals from the district court's judgment denying his petition for post-conviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. Allen argues the district court erred in denying his petition because he proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In his underlying criminal case, the State charged Allen with possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), driving without privileges, and failure to provide proof of insurance. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Allen pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance; and the State dismissed the other two charges, agreed not to file additional charges (including a persistent violator enhancement), and agreed to recommend a unified four-year sentence with two years fixed. The State complied with the terms of the plea agreement, including the agreed upon sentencing recommendation. However, the district court imposed a unified seven-year sentence with three years fixed.

Allen filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file an I.C.R. 35 motion for reduction of sentence despite Allen's request to do so. Allen further alleged that neither the vehicle he was driving at the time of his arrest, nor the methamphetamine found during the inventory search of the vehicle, belonged to him. Allen specifically averred: "I don't feel I am liable or elegible [sic] for possession when I am not the owner of the vehicle."

Allen also filed a motion for appointment of counsel, which the district court granted. Post-conviction counsel subsequently filed an amended petition. In the amended petition, Allen incorporated the allegations and claims from his pro se petition and included a "further claim of ineffective assistance of counsel," which was that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress based on the allegedly "illegal impoundment and inventory search of [Allen's] vehicle." Allen asserted the impoundment and inventory search was illegal because it was done in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The district court conducted an evidentiary hearing, at which Allen and the arresting officer testified. Following the evidentiary hearing, the district court entered an order denying post-conviction relief and a judgment dismissing Allen's petition. The district court concluded that Allen did not have standing to challenge the impoundment and search of the vehicle and that, even if he did, the impoundment and search complied with constitutional standards.[1] Allen appeals.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In order to prevail in a post-conviction proceeding, the petitioner must prove the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. I.C. § 19-4907; Stuart v. State, 118 Idaho 865, 869, 801 P.2d 1216, 1220 (1990); Baxter v. State, 149 Idaho 859, 861, 243 P.3d 675, 677 (Ct. App. 2010). When reviewing a decision denying post-conviction relief after an evidentiary hearing, an appellate court will not disturb the lower court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous. I.R.C.P. 52(a); Dunlap v. State, 141 Idaho 50, 56, 106 P.3d 376, 382 (2004); Russell v. State, 118 Idaho 65, 67, 794 P.2d 654, 656 (Ct. App. 1990). The credibility of the witnesses, the weight to be given to their testimony, and the inferences to be drawn from the evidence are all matters solely within the province of the district court. Dunlap, 141 Idaho at 56, 106 P.3d at 382; Larkin v. State, 115 Idaho 72, 73, 764 P.2d 439, 440 (Ct. App. 1988). We exercise free review of the district court's application of the relevant law to the facts. Baxter, 149 Idaho at 862, 243 P.3d at 678.

III.

ANALYSIS

Allen argues that the district court erred in concluding he was not entitled to post-conviction relief because the district court's finding that Allen did not have standing to challenge the impoundment and inventory search was incorrect and because the district court's analysis of the constitutionality of the impoundment and inventory search was incomplete. The State responds that the district court's finding regarding standing was supported by the evidence and the legal conclusion that the impoundment and inventory search complied with the Fourth Amendment was correct. We hold that Allen has failed to show clear error in the district court's finding regarding standing and that Allen failed to prove that trial counsel was deficient for failing to file a motion to suppress.

To prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the petitioner must show that the attorney's performance was deficient and that the petitioner was prejudiced by the deficiency. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 (1984); Hassett v. State, 127 Idaho 313, 316, 900 P.2d 221, 224 (Ct. App. 1995). Where the alleged deficiency is counsel's failure to file a motion to suppress, the court must engage in a two-part inquiry. Wurdemann v. State, 161 Idaho 713, 718, 390 P.3d 439, 444 (2017). The first part of the inquiry evaluates whether the motion, if filed, should have been granted. Id. A motion that would not have been granted by the trial court ends the inquiry, as counsel's conduct cannot have fallen below a reasonable standard for failing to object to admissible evidence. State v. Payne, 146 Idaho 548, 562, 199 P.3d 123, 137 (2008). If, however, the motion should have been granted, the petitioner is still required to overcome the presumption that the decision not to file the motion was within the wide range of permissible discretion and trial strategy. Wurdemann, 161 Idaho at 718, 390 P.3d at 444. Under...

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