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Paranteau v. State

Supreme Court of Montana

September 3, 2019

JOSEPH PARANTEAU, Petitioner and Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MONTANA, Respondent and Appellee.

          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

          For Appellant: Joseph Paranteau, Self-Represented, Shelby, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, C. Mark Fowler, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Joshua A. Racki, Cascade County Attorney, Amanda Lofink, Deputy County Attorney, Great Falls, Montana

          OPINION

          Mike McGrath, Chief 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 Joseph Paranteau appeals from an order of the Eighth Judicial District Court, Cascade County, denying his petition for postconviction relief. We affirm.

         ¶3 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.[1] On May 25, 2017, the District Court sentenced Paranteau to ten years at the Montana State Prison.

         ¶4 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.

         ¶5 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).

         ¶6 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 ...

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