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Pfeil v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

November 4, 2014

ROGER D. PFEIL, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)

Page 1207

Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County. The Honorable Thomas W. Rumpke, Judge.

Roger D. Pfeil, Appellant, Pro se.

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE, DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1208

KITE, Justice.

[¶1] Over sixteen years after pleading guilty to second degree murder, Roger D. Pfeil filed a pro se motion to withdraw his guilty plea, for a sentence reduction and/or to correct an illegal sentence. The district court ruled the provision of Mr. Pfeil's sentence that required him to repay the costs of his presentence confinement in county jail was illegal and vacated it, but denied the remainder of his claims.

[¶2] We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶3] The issues we must resolve in this appeal are:

1. Should Mr. Pfeil's appeal be dismissed because he failed to file a proper notice of appeal after the district court formally ruled on his motion?

Page 1209

2. Did the district court properly rule it did not have jurisdiction to allow Mr. Pfeil to withdraw his guilty plea even though it found an assessment included in his original sentence was illegal?

3. Did the district court properly rule it did not have jurisdiction to consider, in a motion to correct an illegal sentence, how Mr. Pfeil's sentence is being administered by the Wyoming Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Wyoming Board of Parole (BOP)?

4. Did the district court properly rule it did not have jurisdiction to consider Mr. Pfeil's motion to reduce his sentence?

FACTS

[¶4] In 1997, Mr. Pfeil pled guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement, to one count of second degree murder. The plea agreement included a joint sentencing recommendation of twenty-five to forty-five years in prison and " [a]ssessments to the crime Victim's Compensation Fund, fine, restitution and pre-trial costs of incarceration . . . as determined by the Court." Prior to taking his guilty plea, the district court advised Mr. Pfeil of the penalties associated with the charge, including the possibility of being assessed with presentence costs of incarceration. As the factual basis for his guilty plea, Mr. Pfeil admitted to shooting and killing Russell Patterson for having an affair with his wife and burying Mr. Patterson's body in his car at a mine near Gillette. The district judge adopted the recommended sentence and imposed fines and assessments, including $1,000 for the costs of his presentence confinement in county jail.

[¶5] Mr. Pfeil did not appeal his original conviction or sentence, but, over the years, he has challenged certain aspects of the rulings. In 1998, he filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the district court denied. We dismissed Mr. Pfeil's appeal of that ruling on the grounds we did not have jurisdiction over the matter.

[¶6] In 2013, Mr. Pfeil filed a pro se " Motion for Withdrawal of Plea, and/or Correction/Reduction of an Illegal Sentence." The district court did not immediately rule on his motion and, eventually, Mr. Pfeil filed a notice of appeal claiming that more than ninety days had passed since he filed his motion and it was, therefore, deemed denied and subject to appeal under W.R.C.P. 6. The district court subsequently entered an order granting in part and denying in part Mr. Pfeil's request to correct an illegal sentence and stating that it did not have jurisdiction to consider his request to withdraw his guilty plea, his complaints about how the DOC and BOP were administering his sentence, or his request for a sentence reduction. Mr. Pfeil did not file another notice of appeal or amend his original notice to identify the district court's order as the one being challenged on appeal.

DISCUSSION

1. Notice of Appeal

[¶7] The State claims Mr. Pfeil did not invoke the appellate jurisdiction of this Court because he did not file a proper notice of appeal after the district court issued its decision. The timely filing of a correct notice of appeal is jurisdictional, and the existence of jurisdiction is a question of law reviewed de novo. W.R.A.P. 1.03; Hitz v. State, 2014 WY 58, ¶ 8, 323 P.3d 1104, 1106 (Wyo. 2014); Gomez v. State, 2004 WY 15, ¶ 15, 85 P.3d 417, 420 (Wyo. 2004).

[¶8] W.R.A.P. 2.01 provides " [a]n appeal from a trial court to an appellate court shall be taken by filing the notice of appeal with the clerk of the trial court within 30 days from entry of the appealable order." Mr. Pfeil filed a notice of appeal when the district court did not rule on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea and/or correct or reduce his sentence within ninety days of filing. He claimed his motion was deemed denied under W.R.C.P. 6 and W.R.A.P. 2.02, and, consequently, his notice of appeal was appropriate. We have, however, expressly refused to import the ninety day " deemed denied" rule from the civil context to criminal proceedings. See DeLoge v. State, 2005 WY 152, ¶ 12, 123 P.3d 573, 578 ...


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