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State v. Walbridge

Supreme Court of Montana

May 28, 2019

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
JOSEPH DEE WALBRIDGE, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: May 1, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Nineteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Lincoln, Cause No. DC-16-28 Honorable Matthew Cuffe, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Nick K. Brooke, Smith & Stephens, P.C., Missoula, Montana.

          For Appellee: Marcia Boris, Lincoln County Attorney, Libby, Montana.

          OPINION

          Jim Rice Justice.

         ¶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 Appellant Joseph Dee Walbridge (Walbridge) appeals the denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, without a hearing, by the Montana Nineteenth Judicial District Court, Lincoln County.

         ¶3 On December 14, 2015, Walbridge was charged with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, in violation of § 45-5-503, MCA. On January 30, 2017, Walbridge entered into a plea agreement with the State that provided for his entry of guilty pleas to reduced charges of two counts of criminal endangerment, in violation of § 45-5-207, MCA. The plea agreement stated the State would recommend, at sentencing, that "[t]he Defendant shall complete a Sexual Offender Evaluation and comply with any recommendations."

         ¶4 At the change of plea hearing on January 30, 2017, the court inquired into Walbridge's state of mind, his understanding of the plea agreement, the representation of his counsel, and other issues. The court determined that Walbridge was not subject to any undue influence in deciding to change his plea. When the court asked whether Walbridge understood the terms of the plea agreement when he signed it with his attorney, Walbridge answered, "[f]ully. I fully understand." When the court asked whether Walbridge was prepared to plead to the charges and whether there was any reason that they should not proceed with the plea, Walbridge stated he was prepared to enter a plea and pled guilty to both counts of criminal endangerment. The court stated Walbridge was "acting under the advice of competent counsel" and was entering his plea "voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently."

         ¶5 Then, the following conversation took place regarding Walbridge's sexual offender evaluation, which the court imposed as part of Walbridge's pre-sentence investigation:

The [c]ourt: Now part of this pre-sentence investigation will include a sexual offender evaluation, and so to the extent that this has to be factored into our timing, let me know and we will set it for whenever works for you.
The State: . . . I guess just for clarity, the [c]ourt is ordering that he undergo a sex offender evaluation, is that correct?
The [c]ourt: Yes, I hope that is what I just said. If it is not, that is what I am saying right now. Anything else ...

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