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COA holds that defendant’s misunderstanding about guilty plea waiver rule does not entitle him to plea withdrawal

State v. Matthew Robert Mayotte, 2022AP1695, 1/23/24, District 3 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Given the state of the postconviction record and COA’s narrow reading of precedent, Mayotte fails to establish he is entitled to plea withdrawal given his misunderstanding of the consequences of his Alford plea.

This is probably one of the more factually interesting cases we’ve encountered. Mayotte is alleged to have gotten drunk, used a stolen set of keys from the Taylor County District Attorney’s Office, entered the Taylor County courthouse and participated in all manner of mischief, including changing the time on the clock tower. (¶3). Although video surveillance was key to the State’s investigation, it failed to preserve that video and retained only still images. (¶7). Mayotte moved to dismiss, alleging a due process violation pursuant to Arizona v. Youngblood. (Id.). The motion was denied and Mayotte then entered an Alford plea. (¶9). Mayotte then filed a postconviction motion alleging that his plea was not knowing, intelligent and voluntary because he did not understand he was waiving the Youngblood issue by pleading guilty and because his lawyer was ineffective for not advising him as such. (¶10). The circuit court denied the motion. (¶11).

On appeal, Mayotte relies on State v. Riekkoffwhere the defendant’s misunderstanding about the availability of appellate review for an evidentiary ruling led to plea withdrawal. (¶16). COA, however, reads Riekkoff narrowly and concludes it “does not stand for the proposition that a defendant may automatically withdraw his or her plea any time the defendant is unaware of or misunderstands the guilty plea waiver rule.” (¶18). COA distinguishes Riekkoff, which involved a conditional plea “where the right to appellate review of a particular issue was a critical component of the plea agreement and where the prosecutor and the court affirmed the defendant’s mistaken belief that he would be able to appeal that issue after entering his plea.” (Id.) As those circumstances are not presented in this case, COA holds Riekkoff is inapplicable. (¶19).

COA then holds, as a matter of first impression, “that the guilty plea waiver rule is properly categorized as a collateral consequence of a defendant’s plea.” (¶21). Accordingly, Mayotte must prove that his mistaken belief “was the result of inaccurate information that he received from defense counsel, the prosecutor, or the court, rather than the result of his own inaccurate interpretation.” (¶22). The testimony from the postconviction motion hearing, however, fails to support that contention. (¶24). And, while Mayotte tries an alternative IAC argument, that argument also fails given the postconviction testimony and his lack of any proof establishing that this misunderstanding made a difference to his decision to plead. (¶29).

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