Submitted on Briefs: June 26, 2019
District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and For
the County of Cascade, Cause No. ADV-18-092 Honorable Gregory
G. Pinski, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Joseph Paranteau, Self-Represented, Shelby,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, C. Mark
Fowler, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
A. Racki, Cascade County Attorney, Amanda Lofink, Deputy
County Attorney, Great Falls, Montana
McGrath, Chief Justice.
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
Joseph Paranteau appeals from an order of the Eighth Judicial
District Court, Cascade County, denying his petition for
postconviction relief. We affirm.
On May 28, 2015, the State charged Paranteau with incest, a
felony, in violation of § 45-5-507, MCA, for touching
his ten-year-old step-daughter's vagina with his hand on
several occasions. Paranteau claims he played a game with his
step-daughter where he would throw her onto a couch by
cradling her chest and placing his hand on her crotch and
sometimes his finger would accidentally slip inside her
underwear. Paranteau pleaded not guilty. Attorneys for the
State and Paranteau negotiated a plea agreement, in which
Paranteau agreed to plead guilty to assaulting a minor and to
a five-year commitment to the Department of Corrections, with
three years suspended. The District Court rejected the plea
agreement. In a subsequent plea agreement, Paranteau agreed
to plead guilty to criminal endangerment, a felony, in
violation of § 45-5-207, MCA, which the District Court
accepted. On May 25, 2017, the District Court
sentenced Paranteau to ten years at the Montana State Prison.
On February 13, 2018, Paranteau filed a petition for
postconviction relief arguing that: (1) the District Court
committed perjury; (2) he lacked the requisite mental state
to be convicted of criminal endangerment; and (3) the
prosecution violated the grand jury clause of the Fifth
Amendment of the United States Constitution. On May 21, 2018,
the District Court denied Paranteau's Motion for
Substitution of Judge stating Paranteau alleged no facts of
personal bias or prejudice, and no right of substitution
exists in postconviction cases. See §§
3-1-804, -805, MCA. The same day, the District Court denied
Paranteau's petition for postconviction relief stating
the petition "lacks supporting evidence and is
meritless." Paranteau appeals.
This Court reviews a district court's denial of a
petition for postconviction relief to determine whether that
court's findings are clearly erroneous and whether its
conclusions of law are correct. A petitioner seeking to
reverse a district court's denial of a petition for
postconviction relief "bears a heavy burden."
Mascarena v. State, 2019 MT 78, ¶ 4, 395 Mont.
245, 438 P.3d 323 (internal citations omitted).
Pursuant to § 46-21-104(1), MCA, a petition for
postconviction relief must:
(a) identify the proceeding in which the petitioner was
convicted, give the date of the rendition of the final
judgment complained of, and clearly set forth the alleged
violation or violations;
(b) identify any previous proceedings that the petitioner may
have taken to secure relief ...