State v. Skjonsby, Cr. N

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
Citation338 N.W.2d 628
Docket NumberCr. N
PartiesSTATE of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Richard W. SKJONSBY, Defendant and Appellant. o. 932.
Decision Date29 September 1983

Richard W. Skjonsby, pro se.

Bruce D. Quick, Asst. State's Atty., Fargo, for plaintiff and appellee.

PAULSON, Surrogate Justice.

This is an appeal by the defendant, Richard W. Skjonsby, from a final judgment of the District Court of Cass County, summarily dismissing his application for post-conviction relief. We reverse.

Richard W. Skjonsby [Skjonsby] was convicted of murder in the March 26, 1980, shooting death of Michael J. Kurtz at the Biltmore Motor Hotel in Fargo. Skjonsby was also convicted of attempted murder in the wounding of Charlotte Skjonsby in the same incident. The convictions were affirmed on appeal to this court. State v. Skjonsby, 319 N.W.2d 764 (N.D.1982).

On August 23, 1982, Skjonsby applied to the District Court of Cass County for post-conviction relief pursuant to Chapter 29-32 of the North Dakota Century Code. In his application, he requested that the court "set aside his conviction of the offense of murder and attempted murder and grant a new trial". In support of his application, Skjonsby has alleged: (1) that he was denied effective assistance of counsel at his trial; (2) that as a result of his deteriorated physical, mental, and emotional condition and the various medications and drugs administered to him while he was incarcerated in the Cass County Jail, he was incapable of assisting in his own defense; and (3) that a psychiatric examination performed on him at the Jamestown State Hospital was invalid because two of the doctors who participated in the examination were, at that time, engaged in illegal counterfeiting activities.

An understanding of Skjonsby's allegations requires reference to events not set forth in our earlier opinion in this matter. Skjonsby I, supra 319 N.W.2d 764.

When Skjonsby was arrested on March 26, 1980, he immediately contacted two local attorneys who interviewed him in the Cass County Jail. It soon became apparent that Skjonsby was financially unable to retain these attorneys, so two other attorneys were appointed by the trial court to represent him pursuant to the public defender contract then in effect in Cass County. Problems in the attorney-client relationship arose which culminated in Skjonsby's discharge of these attorneys. The attorneys also moved the court to allow them to withdraw from representation, citing ethical considerations. Fred Kraemer, who had in the meantime succeeded to the public defender contract, was then appointed to represent Skjonsby. Very shortly following his appointment, Kraemer was removed from the case on motion of the state's attorney because of a possible conflict of interest. The attorney who ultimately represented Skjonsby at trial was then appointed to represent him.

During the short time that Kraemer represented Skjonsby, Kraemer made a recording of an interview with Skjonsby which was conducted in the Cass County Jail. It is this interview which is the focus of Skjonsby's application for post-conviction relief. 1 A copy of the recording was given to Skjonsby's trial counsel for his use in preparation for the trial.

At trial, Richard and Charlotte Skjonsby testified that her shooting was accidental and that the shooting of Michael J. Kurtz was in self-defense. They also testified that the weapon used belonged to Kurtz. This was in contradiction to Charlotte's testimony before the grand jury which indicted Skjonsby. She subsequently pleaded guilty to perjury in connection with her trial testimony. Skjonsby now alleges that his trial counsel, in conjunction with the attorney who preceded him, and Charlotte Skjonsby, fabricated the testimony that he and Charlotte gave at trial. He alleges that the perjured testimony was to enhance the possibility that Charlotte would be successful in her civil suit against the Biltmore Motor Hotel. He further alleges that his physical, mental, and emotional condition at the time of trial was such that he was incapable of making rational decisions regarding his case and he was blindly dependent upon his counsel's advice. Skjonsby further alleges that the various drugs and medications administered to him by the county doctor during his incarceration further clouded his thinking and increased his susceptibility to the pressures and blandishments of his counsel.

Chapter 29-32, N.D.C.C., is North Dakota's codification of the Uniform Post-Conviction Procedure Act. Section 29-32-01, N.D.C.C., provides in relevant part that:

"1. Any person who has been convicted of, or sentenced for, a crime and who claims:

"a. That the conviction or the sentence was in violation of the constitution, laws or treaties of the United States or the constitution or laws of this state;

* * *

"d. That there exists evidence of material facts, not previously presented and heard, that requires vacation of the conviction or sentence in the interest of justice;

* * *

may institute, without paying a filing fee, a proceeding under this chapter to secure relief."

Skjonsby alleges that his trial counsel's subornation of perjury constitutes a...

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6 cases
  • State v. Skjonsby, Cr. N
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • December 29, 1987
    ...March 26, 1980. The facts are set out in detail in State v. Skjonsby, 319 N.W.2d 764 (N.D.1982) ["Skjonsby I"] and State v. Skjonsby, 338 N.W.2d 628 (N.D.1983) ["Skjonsby II"]. Skjonsby was tried and convicted for the murder of Michael Kurtz [Kurtz] and the attempted murder of Charlotte Skj......
  • DeCoteau v. State, s. 920280
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • August 10, 1993
    ...raises a genuine issue of material fact, the defendant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing. NDCC 29-32.1-09(2); State v. Skjonsby, 338 N.W.2d 628 (N.D.1983). The question here is whether, on the transcripts and record, the State was entitled to judgment denying DeCoteau post-conviction re......
  • State v. Wilson, Cr. N
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • February 21, 1991
    ...at 866. Where those inferences raise genuine issues of material fact, a defendant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing. State v. Skjonsby, 338 N.W.2d 628 (N.D.1983). Here, Wilson raised genuine issues of material fact about deficient conduct of his defense attorney that require an evidenti......
  • Disciplinary Action Against Becker, Matter of, 920373
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • August 10, 1993
    ...Richard Skjonsby's conviction of attempted murder of Charlotte Skjonsby in the bathroom of a murdered man's motel room); State v. Skjonsby, 338 N.W.2d 628 (N.D.1983) (reversing summary dismissal of Richard Skjonsby's application for post-conviction relief from his convictions of the murder ......
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