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Enzler v. State

Supreme Court of Montana

November 26, 2013

GARY LEE ENZLER, Petitioner,


Gary Lee Enzler (Enzler) has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus and moved for the appointment of counsel in this proceeding. He was convicted upon a guilty plea of sexual assault in Lewis and Clark County District Court on December 8, 2011, and received a 45-year sentence with 29 years suspended.

Enzler states that he does not know what habeas corpus is, but he does know "the truth." The sometimes rambling nature of Enzler's petition makes it difficult to interpret his claims. It is clear that Enzler disputes having committed any act of sexual assault upon a child. He seems to berate himself for "doing such a stupid thing" as listening to his public defenders and pleading guilty. He indicates that he regrets having entered a guilty plea to the charge.

Enzler states that his public defenders lied to his friends and family and provided inadequate assistance of counsel. According to the petition, the District Court violated the plea agreement by altering it to include "what I never would've agreed to, " and that his public defenders failed intercede or object. Enzler asserts that he does not understand the legal system due to traumatic brain injuries and that he had been receiving Social Security Income for his mental disabilities. He claims "the children were lyin (sic), " and refers to "losing my mind & pleading to crap I didn't and would never do." Enzler also maintains that he was not provided his entire file from the Office of Public Defender.

Enzler filed no appeal, no motion to withdraw his guilty plea or a timely petition for postconviction relief. This inaction severely limits the recourse, if any, available to him at this time. A defendant waives the right to appeal all nonjurisdictional defects "upon voluntarily and knowingly entering a guilty plea, including claims of constitutional violations which may have occurred prior to the plea." State v. Pavey, 2010 MT 104, ¶ 11, 356 Mont. 248, 231 P.3d 1104, citing State v. Violette, 2009 MT 19, ¶ 16, 349 Mont. 81, 201 P.3d 804. Enzler retained only the right to attack the voluntary and intelligent character of the plea, any jurisdictional defects and any pretrial rulings preserved in the record for appeal.

Ineffective assistance of counsel claims are fact-based claims that arise from the record in the underlying case and must be raised in a direct appeal. Where allegations cannot be documented from the underlying case, those claims must be presented in a petition for postconviction relief. State v. Wright, 2001 MT 282, ¶ 12, 307 Mont. 349, 42 P.3d 753. Under § 46-21-102(1), MCA, a petition for postconviction relief must be filed within one year from when the conviction became final.

A motion to withdraw a guilty plea must be made in the District Court "within 1 year after the judgment becomes final." Section 46-16-105(2), MCA. The only exception to this statutory bar is that when a defendant claims actual innocence and supports that claim with evidence of a fundamental miscarriage of justice a district court may permit a guilty plea to be withdrawn.

"The writ of habeas corpus is not available to attack the validity of the conviction or sentence of a person who has been adjudged guilty of an offense in a court of record and has exhausted the remedy of appeal." Enzler was convicted based upon his guilty plea in the Lewis and Clark County District Court. By failing to appeal, Enzler exhausted his appeal remedy. Lott v. State, 2006 MT 279, 334 Mont. 270, 150 P.3d 337. As a result, he is barred from relief by way of habeas corpus.

IT IS ORDERED that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion for appointment of counsel is DENIED as moot.

The Clerk is directed to provide a copy hereof to counsel of record and to Gary Lee Enzler.

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