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Golie v. State

Supreme Court of Montana

August 8, 2017

ANDREW DAVID GOLIE, Petitioner and Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MONTANA, Respondent and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: June 14, 2017

         Appeal From District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In and For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DV 14-02 Honorable Jeffrey H. Langton, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Joseph P. Howard, Joseph P. Howard, P.C., Great Falls, Montana.

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Ryan W. Aikin, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana William E. Fulbright, Ravalli County Attorney, Hamilton, Montana.

          OPINION

          JIM RICE JUSTICE.

         ¶1 Andrew David Golie (Golie) appeals the denial of his petition for postconviction relief (PCR), which claimed ineffective assistance by his trial counsel. We affirm, and address the following issues:

1. Did counsel render ineffective assistance by not objecting to the mental-state jury instruction?
2. Did counsel render ineffective assistance by not objecting to evidence regarding Golie's "brothers" or "Modern Outlaw"?
3. Did counsel render ineffective assistance by revealing that Golie was on probation?
4. Did counsel render ineffective assistance by not objecting to the admission of testimony that vouched for the testimony of others?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In January 2011, a Hamilton, Montana, pawn shop was burglarized. Among the items taken was a unique necklace with a broken clasp. Law enforcement investigated, but identified no suspects. In March 2011, Josh Edmondson (Edmondson) attempted to pawn the necklace with the broken clasp at the same pawn shop. The shop owner recognized the necklace and confronted Edmondson, who said that a friend named Andrew had given the necklace to him, but claimed to not know Andrew's last name. Edmondson telephoned Golie, who acknowledged the necklace was stolen and told Edmondson he was stupid for having tried to pawn it.

         ¶3 The following day, Golie and a friend, Wilkins, appeared at Edmondson's home around 10:30 p.m. Golie instructed Edmondson to confess to authorities that Edmondson had stolen the necklace, and told Edmondson that he knew where Edmondson's child slept, his dog slept, and where he lived. Fearing for his family's safety, Edmondson contacted law enforcement.

         ¶4 Golie was charged with felony intimidation, § 45-5-203(1)(a), MCA, and felony tampering with witnesses and informants, § 45-7-206(1), MCA. Sasha Brownlee (Brownlee) represented Golie throughout the trial proceedings, in which the jury acquitted Golie of intimidation, but convicted him on the witness tampering charge. Golie appealed, arguing to this Court that Brownlee was ineffective for failing to object to a jury instruction. Reasoning that the claim could not be reviewed on direct appeal, we affirmed Golie's conviction without prejudice to his pursuit of postconviction relief. State v. Golie, 2013 MT 321N, No. DA 12-0454, 2013 Mont. LEXIS 441.

         ¶5 Golie filed a PCR petition in January 2014, stating eight claims of ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) by Brownlee. In a 75-page order, the District Court extensively analyzed and denied all claims. Golie appeals four of those claims. Additional facts as necessary are cited herein.

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         ¶6 We review a district court's denial of postconviction relief to determine if the court's findings of fact are clearly erroneous, and if its conclusions of law are correct. Lacey v. State, 2017 MT 18, ¶ 13, 386 Mont. 204, 389 P.3d 233 (citing Kenfield v. State, 2016 MT 197, ¶ 7, 384 Mont. 322, 377 P.3d 1207). We review de novo the mixed questions of law and fact presented by claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Whitlow v. State, 2008 MT 150, ¶ 9, 343 Mont. 90, 183 P.3d 861 (citing State v. Racz, 2007 MT 244, ¶ 13, 339 Mont. 218, 168 P.3d 685).

         DISCUSSION

         ¶7 A defendant's right to counsel is guaranteed both by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article II, Section 24 of the Montana Constitution. Whitlow, ¶ 10. Ineffective assistance claims are evaluated under the two-prong test articulated in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052 (1984). Whitlow, ¶ 10; Lacey, ¶ 23.

First, the defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the "counsel" guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment. Second, the defendant must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. This requires showing that counsel's errors were so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable.

Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687, 104 S.Ct. at 2064. "A defendant must satisfy both prongs of this test in order to prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim." Whitlow, ¶ 11 (citing Adams v. State, 2007 MT 35, ¶ 22, 336 Mont. 63, 153 P.3d 601). As such, "if an insufficient showing is made regarding one prong of the test, there is no need to address the other prong." Whitlow, ¶ 11 (citing Adams, ¶ 22).

         ¶8 Under the first prong, a defendant must demonstrate that counsel's representation "fell below an objective standard of reasonableness." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688, 104 S.Ct. at 2064. Although strategic decisions may be considered sound, and thus effective, categorizing actions as strategic or tactical "does not necessarily mean that the conduct was objectively reasonable." Whitlow, ¶ 18. Accordingly, whether counsel's actions come within the "wide range of professionally competent assistance" is determined by "the facts of the particular case, viewed at the time of counsel's conduct" and must be viewed "in light of all the circumstances." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690, 104 S.Ct. at 2066.

         ¶9 The second prong requires demonstration that "the deficient performance prejudiced the defense." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687, 104 S.Ct. at 2064. To prove prejudice, "[t]he defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Strickland, 466 U.S at 694, 104 S.Ct. at 2068.

         ¶10 "Judicial scrutiny of counsel's performance must be highly deferential." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689, 104 S.Ct. at 2065. There is a "strong presumption" that counsel's actions "'fall[] within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.'" Whitlow, ¶ 15 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689, 104 S.Ct. at 2065); accord Lacey, ¶ 24; Taylor v. State, 2014 MT 142, ¶ 12, 375 Mont. 234, 335 P.3d 1218. We thus turn to Golie's claims.

         ¶11 1. Did counsel provide ineffective assistance by not objecting to the mental-state jury instruction?

         ¶12 In his direct appeal, Golie argued Brownlee was ineffective by failing to object to the conduct-based mental state instructions given to the jury. Golie, ¶ 5. We affirmed in a non-cite opinion, stating:

The record here simply does not allow us to undertake an adequate review of Golie's IAC allegation and, therefore, he must seek postconviction relief (PCR). It is unclear from the record why Brownlee did not object to the conduct-based "knowingly" jury instruction. Brownlee's actions may well have been taken within her tactical ...

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