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State v. Martinez

Supreme Court of South Dakota

July 7, 2016

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
RAYMOND M. MARTINEZ, Defendant and Appellant.



          MARTY JACKLEY Attorney General.

          JOHN M. STROHMAN Assistant Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

          JOSHUA M. HILPERT of Hilpert & Hale, Prof., LLC Sturgis, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and appellant.


          WILBUR, Justice.

         [¶1.] In this appeal, defendant alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, that the circuit court erred when it did not grant his request for new counsel, and that the court's sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.[1]We reverse and remand.


         [¶2.] A Butte County grand jury indicted Raymond M. Martinez on July 8, 2014, on five felony charges. The charges included: one count of second-degree rape, one count of first-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, and one count of aggravated assault, domestic violence. Martinez allegedly broke into his estranged girlfriend's home, forced himself upon her, and held her against her will. A part II information alleged Martinez to be a habitual offender. Martinez received court-appointed counsel at his initial appearance and pleaded not guilty to all charges and to the part II information.

         [¶3.] Martinez spent approximately 390 days in jail from arrest to sentencing. In this appeal, Martinez claims that his court-appointed counsel "was woefully non-communicative with and unresponsive to him" throughout his case. He alleges that counsel met with him only four times "despite his round-the clock, incarceration-based availability[.]" He insists she only returned two of his many phone calls and "habitually failed to come and meet him despite his repeated voicemails requesting that she do so[.]" More specifically, he avers that counsel "even failed to return calls placed to her office by at least one potential witness for the defense[.]"

         [¶4.] Related to his defense, Martinez claims that counsel did not file substantive motions on his behalf or resist the State's pleadings and motions. In Martinez's view, his counsel was not prepared for hearings, which caused multiple delays. Martinez asserts that counsel did not keep him apprised of discovery materials she had received and did not make the video recordings available for his review until several months after she received them. Martinez argues that he told counsel from the outset that the facts alleged did not reflect what actually happened. He requested a private investigator in July 2014, and it was not until January 2015 that counsel made a request to the circuit court. And, according to Martinez, it was not until a month later that counsel filed the order allowing the private investigator. Martinez also sought a mental health evaluation, but counsel did not make a request to the court until just prior to Martinez's sentencing.

         [¶5.] Martinez further alleges that he told counsel multiple times that he wanted to recuse the circuit court judge assigned to his case. But, according to Martinez, counsel never requested recusal. Martinez also claims that counsel refused to move the court to reduce his bond. He contends that counsel's refusal foreclosed "any opportunity he might have had to secure his release and better his circumstances."

         [¶6.] Five days prior to his scheduled jury trial, Martinez decided to change his plea. He now claims that he changed his plea only because counsel persuaded him to do so. According to Martinez, counsel told him that she had secured a deal with the state's attorney "by 'leveraging' dozens of her other cases." He also claims that counsel erroneously told him that first-degree burglary is not considered a violent crime and he would not have to register as a sex offender as a benefit of the plea agreement.

         [¶7.] It is undisputed that the State agreed to dismiss all remaining charges and the part II information if Martinez agreed to plead guilty to first-degree burglary. At the change of plea hearing, the court inquired whether Martinez understood the charges against him and his rights. At no time did Martinez indicate to the court that he was unhappy with ...

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