Wabasha v. State

Citation292 N.W.2d 340
Decision Date21 May 1980
Docket NumberNo. 12655,12655
PartiesElroy Lynn WABASHA, Petitioner and Appellant, v. STATE of South Dakota, Respondent.
CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota

Thomas M. Frankman of Willy, Pruitt, Matthews, Hurd, Farrell, Frankman & Johnson, Sioux Falls, for petitioner and appellant.

Margaret Crew, Asst. Atty. Gen., Pierre, for respondent; Mark V. Meierhenry, Atty. Gen., Pierre, on the brief.

DUNN, Justice (on reassignment).

This is an appeal from the trial court's denial of petitioner's request for post-conviction relief. We affirm.

Four days after petitioner was taken into custody by Yankton County authorities, he was taken before a law-trained magistrate, acting as a committing magistrate. He waived his rights to a preliminary hearing and was bound over for trial. He was arraigned before the circuit court the next day and entered a plea of guilty to a charge of first degree robbery. The following day he appeared for sentencing and was sentenced to fifteen years in the penitentiary. At the time, petitioner, who had a seventh or eighth grade education, was twenty years old.

The pro se petition alleged that (1) there was an unnecessary delay in prosecution; (2) there was no effective waiver of right to counsel at either the preliminary examination before the committing magistrate or at the arraignment; (3) at the arraignment, the trial court failed to advise petitioner of the nature and elements of the charge against him; and (4) at the sentencing, he was not advised of his right to appeal. The petitioner contends that these procedures were defective and denied him due process of law under the federal and state constitutions.

The post-conviction trial judge concluded that petitioner had effectively waived counsel; that he had entered a voluntary and intelligent plea; that he had been informed of all the elements of the charge; and that the trial court had determined a sufficient factual basis for the plea. He further concluded that the sentencing was not in violation of SDCL 23-48-5. 1 He made no conclusion regarding delay in the prosecution, nor did petitioner propose any.

Our initial finding is that no error was committed by failing to make a record of the preliminary arraignment. At the post-conviction hearing, the court received the Commitment for Trial and Certificate. This Commitment established that petitioner was informed of his constitutional rights and thereafter waived a preliminary hearing. In People v. Losinger, 331 Mich. 490, 50 N.W.2d 137 (1951), the Michigan Supreme Court held that the waiver of a preliminary examination is established by the return of the magistrate; the waiver of the accused need not be in writing. At a post-conviction hearing, the petitioner has the burden of proving that his constitutional rights have been denied. Petitioner's mere assertion that he does not remember what the magistrate said to him is insufficient. State v. Roth, 84 S.D. 44, 166 N.W.2d 564 (1969).

Moreover, the petitioner pleaded guilty to the charge, and under State v. Mee, 67 S.D. 335, 292 N.W. 875 (1940), such a plea constitutes a waiver of the right to a preliminary examination. In response, petitioner contends that he was threatened by a DCI agent with the maximum penalty and an habitual offender charge. At the post-conviction hearing, however, Yankton County Sheriff Carl Moser, who the petitioner admitted was present during the only conversation between petitioner and the DCI agent, testified that no such threat was made. The lower court accepted the sheriff's testimony, and this court will not disturb a trial court's findings on post-conviction relief unless the evidence preponderates against them. State v. Roth, 84 S.D. 44, 166 N.W.2d 564. The petitioner has not met this burden, and we find that his guilty plea was voluntarily entered.

Likewise, petitioner's waiver of counsel was voluntary. The trial court not only informed him of his right to counsel but strongly encouraged him to accept the assistance of counsel. Petitioner declined the court's offer to appoint counsel.

At the arraignment, the information was read to the petitioner. It recited that petitioner took personal property from a named victim while pointing a handgun at him, thereby putting the victim in fear of immediate injury to his person. Next, petitioner responded affirmatively to questions by the court as to whether he had robbed the victim and whether he possessed a handgun at the time. Petitioner now claims that because the question did not contain a specific query as to whether the gun was pointed at the victim it is unclear whether the gun was actually employed in the robbery or merely in the getaway.

It is well-established that the trial court must develop a factual basis for a guilty plea before it may be accepted. Nachtigall v. Erickson, 85 S.D. 122, 178 N.W.2d 198 (1970). This is not done in a vacuum, however. The information was written in language understandable to a lay person and was read to petitioner. Combining the information's allegations with petitioner's affirmative answers, the trial court properly inferred that the petitioner committed the offense with which he was charged. Although the petitioner is not well educated, he is not unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, and we are convinced that he understood the nature of the charge. The fact that petitioner stated, in response to the court's question, that he was pleading guilty to "armed robbery" instead of using the term "first degree robbery" does not sway us; we remain convinced that the nontechnical language of the information clearly explained the nature of the charge. 2 State v. Holmes, 270 N.W.2d 51 (S.D.1978).

The petitioner objects to the fact that he was sentenced the day after his guilty plea was accepted. It is true that SDCL 23-48-5 3 requires a two-day period between the guilty plea and the sentencing; however, defendant made no objection to being sentenced on the day after his plea, and he did not indicate at the post-conviction hearing how he was prejudiced in any way by failure of the court to delay sentencing for forty-eight hours. In the absence of testimony that this additional time would have been used to withdraw his plea or take some other action in his own behalf, we see no prejudice requiring post-conviction relief.

The petitioner's remaining arguments are all without merit.

The judgment denying post-conviction relief is affirmed.

WOLLMAN, C. J., and FOSHEIM, J., concur.

MORGAN, J., concurs specially.

HENDERSON, J., dissents.

MORGAN, Justice (concurring specially).

I concur in the result. I do not agree that this case is distinguishable from State v. Spirit Track, 272 N.W.2d 803 (S.D.1978); but the arraignment was held prior to that decision. Although we did not announce in Spirit Track whether the holding was prospective or retrospective following the reasoning of this court in Crew v. Nelson, 88 S.D. 162, 216 N.W.2d 565 (1974), it appears that Spirit Track should be given prospective effect only.

HENDERSON, Justice (dissenting).

I respectfully dissent.

A review of the arraignment transcript discloses that defendant's plea of guilty was not voluntarily and intelligently entered as mandated in Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969). In Nachtigall v. Erickson, 85 S.D. 122, 178 N.W.2d 198 (1970), this Court acknowledged that a plea of guilty cannot stand unless the record in some manner indicates that the defendant was advised and had a sufficient understanding of the nature of the charge against him and the range of possible punishment for such crime. The record reveals that the information was read defendant. The circuit judge, however, failed to explain the elements of the offense to the petitioner. Furthermore, the contents of the information were not set forth in the arraignment transcript. The post-conviction trial judge concluded that petitioner had effectively waived counsel and entered a voluntary and intelligent plea, that he had been informed of all the elements of the charge, and that the trial court had determined a sufficient factual basis for the plea. In reviewing a post-conviction relief record, we are not bound by the clearly erroneous rule to such parts of the record as are nonverbal. National Surety Corporation v. Shoemaker, 86 S.D. 302, 195 N.W.2d 134 (1972).

The question of an effective waiver of a federal constitutional right in a proceeding is governed by federal standards. Boykin v. Alabama, supra. For a waiver to be valid under the Due Process Clause, it must be an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege. Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461 (1938). If a defendant's guilty plea is not equally voluntary and knowing, it has been obtained in violation of due process and is therefore void. Boykin. In McCarthy v. United States, 394 U.S. 459, 89 S.Ct. 1166, 22 L.Ed.2d 418 (1969), the United States Supreme Court noted that because a guilty plea is an admission of all the elements of a formal criminal charge, it cannot be truly voluntary unless the defendant possesses an understanding of the law in relation to the facts. The Court in McCarthy indicated that:

The nature of the inquiry required by Rule 11 must necessarily vary from case to case, and, therefore, we do not establish any general guidelines other than those expressed in the Rule itself. As our discussion of the facts in this particular case suggests, however, where the charge encompasses lesser included offenses, personally addressing the defendant as to his understanding of the essential elements of the charge to which he pleads guilty would seem a necessary...

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6 cases
  • State v. Moeller
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • January 26, 1994
    ...was constitutionally defective. A bald assertion that he does not remember receiving his rights is patently insufficient. Wabasha v. State, 292 N.W.2d 340 (S.D.1980). Likewise, when no transcripts exist, for whatever reason, absent misconduct by the state, the court will be presumed to have......
  • Wabasha v. Solem, s. 82-1491
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • December 1, 1982
    ...in state court, the court found that no such threat had been made. The South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed that finding. Wabasha v. State, 292 N.W.2d 340, 342 (S.D.1980). We must accept the state court's factual findings as correct unless the petitioner establishes to the contrary, 28 U.S.C......
  • State v. Van Egdom, 12920
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • May 21, 1980
    ...homicide committing the crime of manslaughter in the second degree(.)" That information was read aloud in open court. Cf., Wabasha v. State, 292 N.W.2d 340 (S.D.1980), opinion filed 5/21/80. In addition, the court inquired of the defendant whether he understood the nature of the charge. Aft......
  • State v. Breed, s. 15198
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • October 22, 1986
    ...397 U.S. 742, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 25 L.Ed.2d 747 (1970); Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461 (1938); Wabasha v. State, 292 N.W.2d 340 (S.D.1980). Further, it would seem that in many respects appellant did a passable job of cross-examining witnesses and objecting to ques......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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