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Bagnell v. State

Supreme Court of Montana

March 6, 2018

BRANDON BAGNELL, Petitioner and Appellant,
STATE OF MONTANA, Respondent and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: January 17, 2018

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twentieth Judicial District, In and For the County of Lake, Cause No. DV 16-203 Honorable James A. Manley, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Brandon Bagnell, Self-Represented, Polson, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Madison L. Mattioli, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Steven Eschenbacher, Lake County Attorney, Polson, Montana



         ¶1 Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.

         ¶2 Brandon Bagnell ("Bagnell") appeals the Order of the Twentieth Judicial District, Lake County, dismissing his petition for postconviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

         ¶3 On May 17, 2013, the State of Montana charged Bagnell with felony stalking in violation of § 45-2-220, MCA. He was appointed Public Defender Benjamin Anciaux. On August 14, 2013, the State filed a notice that it was seeking Persistent Felony Offender (PFO) status for Bagnell. Anciaux filed a motion to dismiss and argued that Bagnell's first appearance was untimely. Bagnell was then appointed new counsel, Public Defender Jason Bryan. With Bryan as counsel, Bagnell entered into a plea agreement, and the District Court ordered a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) report.

         ¶4 On June 25, 2014, Bagnell appeared at his sentencing hearing with his third attorney, Public Defender Tim Baldwin. Baldwin advised the District Court that Bagnell wanted to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial. However, on October 31, 2014, Bagnell withdrew his not guilty plea and pled guilty to felony stalking. As part of the plea agreement, the State withdrew its notice of PFO status, agreed to dismiss all remaining charges filed in the case, and not to prosecute Bagnell further for violations that arose out of the initial conduct. The plea agreement did not specifically preserve any issues for appeal, and no issues were preserved orally at the change of plea hearing.

         ¶5 The District Court conducted a detailed colloquy prior to accepting the guilty plea. The District Court found that Bagnell was acting on the advice of competent counsel; that he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time or suffering from any impairment that would interfere with his ability to understand his decision to change his plea; that no threats or promises had been made against or to him; and that he was entering a plea of guilty knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. Bagnell was sentenced to five years with the Montana Department of Corrections.

         ¶6 On January 7, 2015, Bagnell contacted Baldwin and indicated his desire to appeal the guilty conviction. On January 14, 2015, Bagnell appealed. Baldwin attached an affidavit to the appeal admitting that he made a mistake by failing to preserve Bagnell's right to appeal and stating that Bagnell did not knowingly waive his right to appeal in the plea agreement. Although Bagnell's appeal was untimely, this Court granted an out-of-time appeal.

         ¶7 The Office of the Appellate Defender (OAD) appointed counsel to represent Bagnell on appeal. Appellate counsel reviewed the record and filed a motion for leave to withdraw and a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 368 U.S. 738 (1967), advising this Court that she was unable to find any non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal. Appellate counsel noted that Bagnell might have a legitimate postconviction issue with regard to Baldwin's failure to preserve Bagnell's right to appeal in the Plea Agreement. Bagnell filed a response objecting to appellate counsel's motion; however, on January 19, 2016, this Court independently reviewed the record and dismissed Bagnell's appeal.

         ¶8 Bagnell filed a PCR petition, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, an involuntary guilty plea, a due process violation, and a Brady violation. The District Court reviewed the record under ยง 46-21-201, MCA, and did not order the State to respond and did not hold an evidentiary hearing. On November 2, 2016, the District Court held that Bagnell ...

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