APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In and For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DC 10-131 Honorable Jeffrey H. Langton, Presiding Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael E Wheat
Submitted on Briefs: October 10, 2012
Decided: December 27, 2012
Justice Michael E Wheat delivered the Opinion of the Court.
¶1 Plaintiff appeals from the judgment of the Twenty-First Judicial District Court, Ravalli County, denying his motion to dismiss due to invalidity of prior DUI convictions. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
¶2 On September 13, 2010, Kenneth Maynard Nixon (Nixon) was charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs (DUI) (fourth or subsequent offense). The Information provided that Nixon was previously convicted of qualifying DUI offenses in March 2009, April 1999, and December 1992.
¶3 On April 25, 2011, Nixon filed a motion to dismiss due to invalidity of prior DUI convictions. In his motion, he challenged his 1992 DUI conviction on the basis of constitutional infirmity. Specifically, he asserted that the 1992 conviction could not be used to enhance the current charge because the court failed to obtain a valid and express waiver of the right to counsel prior to taking Nixon's guilty plea. Nixon submitted an affidavit with his motion that attested as follows:
On December 24, 1992 I pled guilty to DUI in Ravalli County Justice Court[.]
I was indigent and unable to retain a private attorney. I was not represented by a lawyer in this proceeding. Prior to entering my guilty plea on December 24, 1992 I was not expressly advised of my right to counsel and I did not expressly and explicitly waive that right prior to pleading guilty.
Nixon also attached the complaint in the 1992 proceeding, as well as the docket page. The complaint indicated that the matter was heard in Ravalli County Justice ...