Grinols v. State, No. A-7349.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Alaska
Writing for the CourtMANNHEIMER.
Citation10 P.3d 600
PartiesJohn Bruce GRINOLS, Appellant, v. STATE of Alaska, Appellee.
Decision Date13 October 2000
Docket NumberNo. A-7349.

10 P.3d 600

John Bruce GRINOLS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Alaska, Appellee

No. A-7349.

Court of Appeals of Alaska.

October 13, 2000.


10 P.3d 603
John Bruce Grinols, in propria persona, for Appellant

Nancy R. Simel, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Bruce M. Botelho, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.

Before COATS, Chief Judge, and MANNHEIMER and STEWART, Judges.

10 P.3d 604
OPINION

MANNHEIMER, Judge.

In 1994, John Bruce Grinols was convicted of three counts of sexually abusing a minor. This court affirmed Grinols's convictions in May 1995.1 Several months later, Grinols filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel from his trial attorney. The superior court denied the petition and, in August 1998, this court affirmed the superior court's decision.2

In January 1999, Grinols filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in which he raised new attacks on his conviction. The superior court, relying on Civil Rule 86(m), ruled that Grinols's habeas corpus petition had to be treated as a second petition for post-conviction relief. And because AS 12.72.020(a)(6) declares that a defendant is generally entitled to file only one petition for post-conviction relief, the superior court dismissed Grinols's lawsuit.

Grinols argues that he has a constitutional right to pursue the new collateral attacks on his conviction. He contends that Civil Rule 86(m) abridges the constitutionally guaranteed right of habeas corpus. Alternatively, Grinols argues that even if his application must be deemed a second petition for post-conviction relief, he nevertheless has a constitutional right to litigate his claims in spite of AS 12.72.020(a)(6). Finally, Grinols contends that he is entitled to the assistance of counsel at public expense to aid him in this litigation.

As we explain in more detail below, all but three of Grinols's claims would be barred under the doctrine of res judicata that applied to habeas corpus and post-conviction relief litigation even before the enactment of Civil Rule 86(m) and AS 12.72.020(a)(6). Moreover, of Grinols's three remaining claims, one could have been raised in Grinols's underlying criminal case without filing a petition for post-conviction relief, while another falls within a legislatively-created exception to the ban on second petitions for post-conviction relief.

Thus, only one claim remains: Grinols's contention that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when he litigated his first petition for post-conviction relief. To resolve this claim, we must address the constitutionality of Civil Rule 86(m) and AS 12.72.020(a)(6). We also must address the constitutionality of AS 18.85.100(c)(1), the statute which declares that an indigent defendant is entitled to counsel at public expense to pursue a first petition for post-conviction relief, but not to pursue any successive petition.

For the reasons explained in this opinion, we uphold the constitutionality of Civil Rule 86(m), the rule which states that post-conviction relief supersedes habeas corpus as the procedural method for collaterally attacking a criminal conviction. And, with certain limited exceptions, we uphold the constitutionality of AS 12.72.020(a)(6), the statute which bars a defendant from pursuing successive petitions for post-conviction relief.

But under the due process clause of the Alaska Constitution, we must allow defendants to pursue a second petition for post-conviction relief if they allege that they received ineffective assistance of counsel when they litigated their first petition. Defendants have a right, under Alaska law, to competent legal representation when they litigate a first petition for post-conviction relief. Therefore, a defendant must be allowed to attack the result of that first post-conviction relief litigation by showing that they received incompetent representation.

Finally, we hold that indigent defendants are not entitled to counsel at public expense when they litigate a second petition for post-conviction relief. We nevertheless hold that the superior court has the authority, under the due process clause, to appoint counsel for an indigent defendant if the court concludes that a lawyer's assistance is needed for a fair and meaningful litigation of the defendant's claim.

1. Underlying facts, and an explanation of the superior court's ruling

As explained above, Grinols lost a direct appeal of his convictions, and he then litigated

10 P.3d 605
and lost a petition for post-conviction relief (and an ensuing appeal). Grinols then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus

In his habeas petition, Grinols alleged that dozens of procedural errors and denials of due process occurred at his trial, his sentencing, his appeal, his petition for hearing to the Alaska Supreme Court, his first petition for post-conviction relief, and his appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief. As part of these allegations, Grinols asserted that he received ineffective assistance from all six attorneys who represented him during the various stages of his litigation.

Relying on Alaska Civil Rule 86(m) and AS 12.72.020(a)(6), both enacted in 1995, Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Jahnke dismissed Grinols's petition. The judge ruled that, under Civil Rule 86(m), Grinols's petition for writ of habeas corpus had to be deemed a petition for post-conviction relief. Having ruled that Grinols's pleading was in fact a second petition for post-conviction relief, Judge Jahnke dismissed the petition because AS 12.72.020(a)(6) bars a defendant from filing more than one petition for post-conviction relief. Judge Jahnke also denied Grinols's request for the appointment of counsel at public expense. The judge noted that, under AS 18.85.100(c)(1), an indigent defendant's right to appointed counsel extends only to the defendant's first petition for post-conviction relief.

Alaska Civil Rule 86(m) declares that habeas corpus can not be used as a substitute for post-conviction relief. Specifically, Rule 86(m) states that the habeas corpus remedy described in Rule 86

does not apply to any post-conviction proceeding that could be brought under Criminal Rule 35.1. The court shall treat such a [habeas corpus] complaint as an application for post-conviction relief under Criminal Rule 35.1 and, if necessary, transfer the application to the court of appropriate jurisdiction for proceedings under that rule.

Rule 86(m) codifies the decision reached by this court in Wood v. Endell.3 In Wood, a prisoner filed a petition for habeas corpus in which he attacked his underlying conviction. Construing Criminal Rule 35.1, we held that Alaska's post-conviction relief procedures were intended to supersede the habeas corpus remedy, and we therefore ruled that a habeas petition attacking a criminal conviction should normally be deemed a petition for post-conviction relief.4

In Alaska, a defendant's right to seek post-conviction relief is governed by AS 12.72. One of the statutes contained in this chapter, AS 12.72.020(a)(6), declares that (with certain limited exceptions) a defendant may pursue only one petition for post-conviction relief. Grinols has already litigated a previous petition for post-conviction relief. Thus, unless one or more of Grinols's claims falls under a constitutional or statutory exception to the normal ban on successive petitions for post-conviction relief, all of Grinols's claims are barred.

2. The limited scope of the constitutional problem presented in Grinols's case: Most of Grinols's claims would have been barred under prior law. Only a few of Grinols's claims are affected by the changes enacted by the Alaska Legislature and the Alaska Supreme Court in 1995.

Grinols's case requires us to clarify a defendant's right to collaterally attack a criminal judgement. In particular, Grinols asks us to examine the constitutionality of certain changes that the Alaska Supreme Court and the Alaska Legislature made to this area of the law in 1995: the court's enactment of Civil Rule 86(m) and the legislature's enactment of AS 12.72 (and its concomitant amendment of Criminal Rule 35.1). But before we begin our analysis of these 1995 changes, it is important to point out that most of Grinols's present claims would have been barred under Alaska law as it existed before 1995.

(a) Alaska law between 1968 and 1995

Society has a substantial interest in making sure that criminal litigation eventually

10 P.3d 606
reaches an end. All persons involved in the litigation—defendants, victims, families and friends, investigative agencies, as well as the public at large—have a right to expect that criminal cases will be finally resolved at some point. If prisoners are allowed to assert claims long after their trials, society runs the risk that re-trials may be ordered years after the event, when witnesses may no longer be available or their memories of the pertinent occurrences have been lost or diminished. In addition, piecemeal litigation of successive and often fruitless post-conviction claims poses a significant cost to the courts and the other components of the criminal justice system. As our supreme court recognized in Merrill v. State,
finality may be a crucial element [in the] effectiveness [of the criminal law]. A procedural system which permits an endless repetition of inquiry into facts and law in a vain search for ultimate certitude implies a lack of confidence about the possibilities of [administering] justice that cannot but war with the effectiveness of the [law's] underlying substantive commands. Furthermore, ... an endless reopening of convictions, with its continuing underlying implication that perhaps the defendant can escape from corrective sanctions after all, [is potentially inconsistent] with the aim of rehabilitating offenders.

457 P.2d 231, 236 (Alaska 1969).5

For these reasons, the Alaska...

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83 practice notes
  • Rippo v. State, No. 53626
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • August 2, 2018
    ...prevented the defendant from establishing a demonstrable and prejudicial flaw in the original trial court proceedings. Grinols v. State, 10 P.3d 600, 620 (Alaska Ct. App. 2000), aff'd, 74 P.3d 889 (Alaska 2003) ; see also Jackson v. Weber, 637 N.W.2d 19, 23 (S.D. 2001) ("[I]neffective assis......
  • Rippo v. State, No. 53626.
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • February 25, 2016
    ...prevented the defendant from establishing a demonstrable and prejudicial flaw in the original trial court proceedings.Grinols v. State, 10 P.3d 600, 620 (Alaska Ct.App.2000), aff'd, 74 P.3d 889 (Alaska 2003); see also Jackson v. Weber, 637 N.W.2d 19, 23 (S.D.2001)("[I]neffective assistance ......
  • State v. Dague, No. A-8914.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Alaska
    • September 15, 2006
    ...82 S.Ct. at 503 n. 5. 73. Id., 368 U.S. at 451-52, 82 S.Ct. at 503. 74. Id., 368 U.S. at 452, 82 S.Ct. at 504. 75. See Grinols v. State, 10 P.3d 600, 610 n. 25 (Alaska 76. The pertinent portion of Article I, Section 8 states: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise in......
  • Smart v. State, No. A-9025.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Alaska
    • October 27, 2006
    ...796 P.2d 1354, 1358-59 (Alaska 1990); State v. Glass, 596 P.2d 10, 12-13 (Alaska 1979); Judd v. State, 482 P.2d 273, 278 (Alaska 1971). 3. 10 P.3d 600 (Alaska 4. Grinols, 10 P.3d at 610. 5. Id. See also Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 78-79, 97 S.Ct. 2497, 2502, 53 L.Ed.2d 594 (1977). 6. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
83 cases
  • Rippo v. State, No. 53626
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • August 2, 2018
    ...prevented the defendant from establishing a demonstrable and prejudicial flaw in the original trial court proceedings. Grinols v. State, 10 P.3d 600, 620 (Alaska Ct. App. 2000), aff'd, 74 P.3d 889 (Alaska 2003) ; see also Jackson v. Weber, 637 N.W.2d 19, 23 (S.D. 2001) ("[I]neffective assis......
  • Rippo v. State, No. 53626.
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • February 25, 2016
    ...prevented the defendant from establishing a demonstrable and prejudicial flaw in the original trial court proceedings.Grinols v. State, 10 P.3d 600, 620 (Alaska Ct.App.2000), aff'd, 74 P.3d 889 (Alaska 2003); see also Jackson v. Weber, 637 N.W.2d 19, 23 (S.D.2001)("[I]neffective assistance ......
  • State v. Dague, No. A-8914.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Alaska
    • September 15, 2006
    ...82 S.Ct. at 503 n. 5. 73. Id., 368 U.S. at 451-52, 82 S.Ct. at 503. 74. Id., 368 U.S. at 452, 82 S.Ct. at 504. 75. See Grinols v. State, 10 P.3d 600, 610 n. 25 (Alaska 76. The pertinent portion of Article I, Section 8 states: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise in......
  • Smart v. State, No. A-9025.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Alaska
    • October 27, 2006
    ...796 P.2d 1354, 1358-59 (Alaska 1990); State v. Glass, 596 P.2d 10, 12-13 (Alaska 1979); Judd v. State, 482 P.2d 273, 278 (Alaska 1971). 3. 10 P.3d 600 (Alaska 4. Grinols, 10 P.3d at 610. 5. Id. See also Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 78-79, 97 S.Ct. 2497, 2502, 53 L.Ed.2d 594 (1977). 6. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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