Alaska Supreme Court Opinions made Available byTouch N' Go Systems and Bright Solutions

Touch N' Go
, the DeskTop In-and-Out Board makes your office run smoother.


You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. State v. Ranstead (4/6/2018) sp-7234

State v. Ranstead (4/6/2018) sp-7234

           Notice:   This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the P                         ACIFIC  REPORTER.  

           Readers are requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts,  


           303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878, email  



                        THE  SUPREME  COURT  OF  THE  STATE  OF  ALASKA  

STATE  OF  ALASKA,                                                       )  

                                                                         )     Supreme  Court  No.  S-16365  

                                  Petitioner,                            )     Court  of  Appeals  No.  A-11805  



           v.	                                                           )     Superior Court No. 4FA-11-02590 CR  



DEAN MICHAEL RANSTEAD,                                                   )                           

                                                                               O P I N I O N  




                                  Respondent.	                           )     No. 7234 - April 6, 2018  



                       Petition for Hearing from the Court of Appeals of the State of  


                       Alaska,  on appeal from the  Superior Court of the  State of  


                       Alaska,             Fourth            Judicial            District,             Fairbanks,  


                       Michael P. McConahy, Judge.  


                       Appearances:                Donald   Soderstrom,  Assistant   Attorney  


                       General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Jahna  


                       Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for Petitioner.  Sandra  


                       K.  Rolfe,  Stepovich & Vacura  Law  Office, Fairbanks,  for  


                       Respondent.  Josie Garton, Assistant Public Defender, and  


                       Quinlan  Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage,  for Amicus  


                       Curiae, Alaska Public Defender Agency.  


                       Before:          Stowers,  Chief  Justice,  Maassen,  Bolger,  and  

                                                                                                        *   [Winfree,  

                       Carney, Justices, and Eastaugh,  Senior Justice.    

                       Justice, not participating.]  


                       BOLGER, Justice.  


           *           Sitting by assignment made under article IV, section 11 of the Alaska                                           

Constitution and Alaska Administrative Rule 23(a).                            

----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

I.             INTRODUCTION  

                               In  Roman v. State                       , we recognized that conditions of probation and parole                                                         

"must be reasonably related to the rehabilitation of the offender and the protection of the                                                                                                     


public and must not be unduly restrictive of liberty."                                                                   The court of appeals recently read                                  


Roman as requiring that a sentencing court affirmatively review all probation conditions  


proposed in the presentence report, even if the defendant has not objected to those  



                                 It  applied  that  requirement  to  Dean  Ranstead's  sentence  appeal  and  


remanded to the superior court.  The State of Alaska petitioned for hearing.  We agree  


with the court of appeals that a sentencing court bears responsibility for ensuring that  


probation conditions satisfy the requirements of Roman and are not otherwise illegal.  


But a sentencing court is not required to make particularized findings to support the  


imposition of a proposed probation condition to which the defendant has not objected.  


We therefore reverse the court of appeals' decision to the extent it vacated probation  


conditions to which Ranstead did not object.  





                               Dean Ranstead pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault.                                                                                   Before the  



sentencing hearing,  a probation  officer  prepared  a presentence report.                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                                             The  report  


recommended that the superior court sentence Ranstead to a term of imprisonment  


followed by  a term of probation  and  that the court impose 11  "general" probation  

                1             Roman v. State, 570 P.2d 1235, 1240 (Alaska 1977);                                                                         see also Sprague v.   

State, 590 P.2d 410, 417-18 (Alaska 1979)                                                          .  

               2              Beasley v. State                    , 364 P.3d 1130, 1133 (Alaska App. 2015);                                                        see also Martin     

v.  State, No. A-11885, 2017 WL 4863249, at *2 (Alaska App. Oct. 25, 2017);                                                                                                     Ranstead  

v.  State, No. A-11805, 2016 WL 2944797, at *4 (Alaska App. May 18, 2016)                                                                                                        .  

               3               AS 11.41.420(a)(3).   



                               See Alaska R. Crim. P. 32.1(b).  

                                                                                                -2-                                                                                        7234

----------------------- Page 3-----------------------

conditions and 26 "special" conditions.                                                                             Ranstead filed written objections to 10 of the                                                                               

recommended special conditions of probation.                                                                                             

                                      At the sentencing hearing, the superior court explained that it had reviewed                                                                                                             

the case file, the presentence report, substance abuse and psychological evaluations, and                                                                                                                                                      

letters in support of Ranstead and the victim.                                                                                   The court further stated that it had "s[een]                                                        

a fair amount of information from grand jury tapes to a lot of other things" and that it                                                                                                                                                             

thus "ha[d] a broader sense of the operative facts and the percipient witnesses than is the                                                                                                                                                      

normal case."                             The victim, the prosecutor, Ranstead, and Ranstead's attorney all made                                                                                                                          


                                       The              court                discussed                         and              weighed                        various                     statutory                      sentencing  

                                            5 generally known as the Chaney factors.6  Based on these considerations,  


the court sentenced Ranstead to 14 years' imprisonment with 8 years suspended, to be  


followed  by  10  years'  probation.                                                                        The  court  addressed  and  overruled  Ranstead's  


objections to the proposed special conditions of probation. It adopted all of the proposed  


general and special conditions without additional substantive discussion.  


                                      Ranstead appealed his sentence to the court of appeals, challenging -  


among other things - a number of the imposed conditions of probation. In his brief, he  


challenged one of the general conditions, which he had not objected to in the superior  


court, and ten special conditions, including one which he had not objected to in the  


superior  court.                                  The  court  of  appeals  rejected  Ranstead's  challenge  to  the  general  


condition7  but vacated all ten of the special conditions which he had challenged on  


                   5                  AS 12.55.005.   

                   6                  See State v. Chaney                                       , 477 P.2d 441, 444 (Alaska 1970).                                                



                                      Ranstead, 2016 WL 2944797, at *4.  

                                                                                                                         -3-                                                                                                               7234

----------------------- Page 4-----------------------


appeal.   The court also struck down two conditions that Ranstead had not objected to  

in the superior court or challenged on appeal.                                9  

                       Further, the court of appeals noted that it had recently held in Beasley v.  


         10 that "a judge must affirmatively review the State's proposed probation conditions  


to ensure that they are both appropriate and constitutionally permissible" and that "[a]  


judge may not delegate this responsibility to the presentence report author, even if the  


defense does not object."11  The court determined that "[i]n Ranstead's case, the superior  


court adopted all of the conditions of probation recommended in the presentence report,  


without subjecting them to the required critical review."12                                               The court consequently  


vacated all of the remaining conditions - even though Ranstead had not objected to  


most of them in the superior court and had not challenged any on appeal - and ordered  


that these conditions be reconsidered on remand.13  


                       The State filed a petition for hearing with this court,14   contending that  


"[t]here is no basis for a rule requiring trial judges to make explicit findings about  


probation conditions when the defendant raises no objection" and that "this rule imposes  


a great burden on trial courts."  We granted the petition and ordered briefing from the  


            8          Id.  at  *4-7.  

            9          Id.  at  *5-6.   

            10         364  P.3d   1130  (Alaska  App.  2015).  

            11         Ranstead,  2016  WL  2944797,  at  *4  (alterations  omitted)  (quoting  Beasley,  

 364  P.3d  at   1133).  

            12         Id.  

            13         Id.  at  *4,  *7.  

            14         Alaska  R.  App.  P.  302(a).  

                                                                        -4-                                                                 7234

----------------------- Page 5-----------------------

parties on two issues:                                  (1) In cases where there is a presentence report that recommends                                                                     

special probation conditions, does a defendant need to object to a proposed probation                                                                                                                

condition to preserve the issue for appeal?                                                                   (2) Is the sentencing judge required to make                                                      

findings in support of probation conditions that a defendant has not objected to?                                                                                                                     

III.             STANDARD OF REVIEW                              

                                  Whether a defendant must object to a probation condition in the sentencing                                                                                       


court to preserve an appellate challenge is a question of law.                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                     The extent to which a  


sentencingcourt must makefindings beforeimposinganuncontestedprobationcondition  



is  also  a  question  of  law.                                                  When  reviewing  questions  of  law,  we  exercise  our  


independent judgment and adopt those rules of law that are "most persuasive in light of  



precedent, reason, and policy." 

IV.              DISCUSSION  

                                  In  Roman  v.  State,  we  recognized  "that  parole  conditions  must  be  


reasonably related to the rehabilitation of the offender and the protection of the public  


                                                                                                                  18  The same restrictions apply to probation  

and must not be unduly restrictive of liberty."                                                                                                                                                       


                 15                Cf. Johnson v. State                             , 328 P.3d 77, 81 (Alaska 2014) ("The proper extent of                                                                               

appellate review for an unpreserved claim of constitutional error is a question of law                                                                                                                              

. . . .").       

                 16                Cf. State v. Schmidt, 323 P.3d 647, 655 (Alaska 2014) ("Whether there are  


sufficient findings for informed appellate review is a question of law." (quoting Hooper  


v. Hooper, 188 P.3d 681, 685 (Alaska 2008))).  


                 17               Johnson, 328 P.3d at 81 (quoting Guin v. Ha, 591 P.2d 1281, 1284 n.6  


(Alaska 1979)).  


                 18               Roman v. State, 570 P.2d 1235, 1240 (Alaska 1977).  


                                                                                                           -5-                                                                                                   7234

----------------------- Page 6-----------------------


conditions.                At   the   time   of   the   Roman   decision,  the   constitutional   principles   of  

reformation of the offender and protection of the public constituted "the touchstones of                                                                  

                                         20   The Alaska Constitution has since been amended to specify  

penal administration."                                                                                                                          

                                      21   Article 1, section 12 now provides in pertinent part:  "Criminal  

additional principles.                                                                                                                     


administration shall be based upon the following:  the need for protecting the public,  


community condemnation of the offender, the rights of victims of crimes, restitution  


from the offender, and the principle of reformation."  Each component of a criminal  


sentence - including conditions of probation - must be reasonably related to at least  


one of these constitutional principles.22  


                        As noted above, Roman  also requires that conditions of probation and  


parole "not be unduly restrictive of liberty."23                                     A condition that restricts constitutional  


                                                                                  24     For  example,  a  condition  restricting  

rights  may  "be  subject  to  special  scrutiny."                                                                                        


            19          See Sprague v. State                 , 590 P.2d 410, 417-18 (Alaska 1979).                      



                        State v. Chaney, 477 P.2d 441, 444 (Alaska 1970) (citing Alaska Const.  

art. I,  12 (amended 1994)).            

            21          See State v. Carlin, 249 P.3d 752, 758 (Alaska 2011) ("In 1994 Alaska's  


voters overwhelmingly approved the Rights of Victims of Crime Amendment to the  


Alaska Constitution. . . .   The amendment . . . revised  article  I,  section 12, which  


enumerates the goals of the criminal justice system.").  


            22          Forster  v.  State,  236  P.3d  1157,  1174  (Alaska  App.  2010);  see  also  


AS 12.55.005 (enumerating considerations in imposing sentence); Koteles v. State, 660  


P.2d  1199,  1201-02  (Alaska  App.  1983)  (Singleton,  J.,  concurring)  (describing  


discussion  of  the  relevant  language  at  the  Alaska  Constitutional  Convention  and  


analyzing delegates' interpretation of similar language in the Indiana Constitution).  


            23          Roman, 570 P.2d at 1240.  


            24          Id. at1241 (quoting United States v. Consuelo-Gonzalez, 521 F.2d 259,265  


(9th Cir. 1975)); see also Glasgow v. State, 355 P.3d 597, 600 (Alaska App. 2015).  


                                                                            -6-                                                                     7234

----------------------- Page 7-----------------------

internet access must be narrowly tailored;                         25 an otherwise warranted restriction may be  

impermissible if it does not allow a probation or parole officer to authorize necessary                                     

                                                                            26    A  restriction  on  the  possession  of  

internet  use   under   appropriate   circumstances.                                                                                    

sexually  explicit  material  may  be  unconstitutionally  vague  if  it  is  not  adequately  


defined.27         And  a  condition  that  allows  a  warrantless  search  must  bear  "a  direct  


relationship" to the nature of the defendant's conviction.28  


                     It is a sentencing court's obligation to ensure that these requirements are  


satisfied when imposing probation conditions,29  as the State concedes.  The court "may  


not delegate this responsibility to the presentence report author, even if the defense does  


not object."30   That a sentencing court may only impose probation conditions consistent  


with Roman does not mean, though, that a sentencing court must make express findings  


for or otherwise justify each condition on the record.  Nor does it furnish an exception  


           25         Cf.  Packingham  v.  North  Carolina,   137  S.  Ct.   1730,   1735-37  (2017).  

           26        Dunder  v.  State,  No.  A-10205,  2009  WL   1607917  (Alaska  App.  June   10,  


           27        Diorec  v.  State,  295  P.3d  409,  417  (Alaska  App.  2013).  

           28        Roman,  570  P.2d  at   1242-43.  

           29         Cf.  Shelton  v.  State,  611  P.2d  24,  25  (Alaska  1980)  ("[T]he  sentencing  court  

is  responsible for  determining  the priority and  relationship  of  various relevant  sentencing  

goals  .  .  .  .").  

           30        Beasley v. State, 364 P.3d 1130, 1133 (Alaska App. 2015); see also United  


States v. Siegel, 753 F.3d 705, 714 (7th Cir. 2014) (noting the trial court's "independent  


duty to determine the reasonableness of every part of a sentence, including the conditions  


of supervised release").  


                                                                   -7-                                                             7234

----------------------- Page 8-----------------------

to the well-established principle that a "defendant must raise an objection in the trial                                                              

court in order to preserve that argument for appeal."                                          31  

                        In  the  present  case,  the  parties  and  the  superior  court  addressed  the  


proposed probation conditions in accordance with the framework set forth in Alaska  


Rules of Criminal Procedure 32.1 and 32.2.  Rule 32.1(d)(5) requires a defendant to  


"give notice of any objection to any information contained in the presentence report."  


Ranstead did so by filing written objections to certain factual assertions and to ten of the  


special conditions recommended in the report.  Rule 32.1(f) provides that "[t]he court  


shall give the parties the opportunity to present evidence and argument on the disputed  


factual and legal issues related to sentencing."  The superior court afforded the parties  


such an opportunity here.   Ranstead's written objections to the proposed probation  


conditions contained substantive legal and factual argument, and he did not seek to  


present additional evidence or argument on the proposed probation conditions at the  


sentencing hearing.  


                        Rule 32.1(f)(5) requires that a sentencing court "enter findings regarding  


any disputed assertion in the presentence report," and Rule 32.2(c)(1) requires that a  


sentencing court "state clearly the precise terms of the sentence, the reasons for selecting  


the particular sentence, and the purposes the sentence is intended to serve."  The court  


in this case complied with these requirements.  It addressed all of Ranstead's objections  


on the record. In overruling these objections, the court made findings where appropriate  


and stated its reasoning.  Further, before imposing the probation conditions and the rest  


of the sentence, the court discussed and weighed the constitutional sentencing principles  


in light of the circumstances of the case and noted that it had considered the presentence  


report and various other sources of information.  The Criminal Rules do not require a  




                        Johnson v. State, 328 P.3d 77, 82 (Alaska 2014).  

                                                                            -8-                                                                          7234  

----------------------- Page 9-----------------------

sentencing court to expressly rule on proposed probation conditions that neither party                                                                                                             


                                Not only was the procedure followed by the superior court consistent with                                                                                            

Rules 32.1 and 32.2, but it also was a fair and orderly method for ruling on the proposed                                                                                                

conditions.   Our adversary system of justice "is designed around the premise that the                                                                                                                  

parties know what is best for them, and are responsible for advancing the facts and                                                                                                                   

                                                                                     32   Counsel for the defendant and for the State thus  

arguments entitling them to relief."                                                                                                                                                                 

have a "role . . . in aiding the trial court."33                                                       When a party objects to proposed probation  


conditions, it puts the court and the other party on notice that the conditions may be  


problematic.  This enables the other party to marshal evidence and argument in support  


ofthedisputed conditions34 and focuses the sentencing court's attention on the issues that  


                                35    It also provides an opportunity for the court to ask the probation officer  

really matter.                                                                                                                                                                                 


who authored the presentence report to explain the basis for the contested conditions.36  


                                Where, however, no party objects to a proposed probation condition, a  


sentencing court - having conducted its own review of the condition and found nothing  


                32              Greenlaw v. United States                                       , 554 U.S. 237, 244 (2008) (quoting                                                      Castro v.   

 United States                  , 540 U.S. 375, 386 (2003) (Scalia, J., concurring in part and concurring in                                                                                               

the judgment)).   

                33              Khan v. State, 278 P.3d 893, 901 (Alaska 2012).  


                34              SeePeeples v. Lampert,191 P.3d 637, 642 (Or. 2008) (enbanc) (explaining  


that an objection requirement "ensures fairness to an opposing party, by permitting the  


opposing party to respond to a contention and by otherwise not taking the opposing party  


by surprise").  


                35              Cf. United States v. Padilla, 415 F.3d 211, 225 (1st Cir. 2005) (Boudin,  


C.J., concurring) ("The time of a judge is scarcest of all judicial resources.").  


                36              The probation officer who authored the presentence report attended the  


sentencing hearing in the present case.  


                                                                                                    -9-                                                                                            7234

----------------------- Page 10-----------------------

evidently problematic - can sensibly conclude that the condition is reasonably related                                                                                                                                                                          

to   the   goals   of   sentencing,   not   unduly   burdensome,   and   not   otherwise   illegal.     A  

sentencing court need not address an uncontested condition on the record.                                                                                                                                                                       The record   

in the present case is therefore adequate to show that the superior court affirmatively                                                                                                                                                    

considered all of the proposed probation conditions before imposing them.                                                                                                                                                     

                                           By failing to object to certain proposed conditions of probation, Ranstead                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                              37   "No procedural principle  

failed to preserve an appellate challenge to those conditions.                                                                                                                                                                                            

is more familiar" than that a right "may be forfeited in criminal as well as civil cases by  


the failure to make timely assertion of the right before a tribunal having jurisdiction to  


determine it."38   The requirement of timely objection "is not some arbitrary rule imposed  


by irascible appellate judges for the purpose of shielding themselves from work."39  


Rather, the requirement serves important judicial policies.  It ensures that "litigation in  


the trial court remains the 'main event' (as opposed to the appeal)."40                                                                                                                                                                      It allows the  


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 41  It provides the  

opposing party to respond to the objection with evidence and argument.                                                                                                                                                                                                      


                     37                    However, if a sentencing court imposes conditions of probation that were                                                                                                                                                   

not proposed or discussed before sentencing, a defendant need not object to preserve an                                                                                                                                                                                       

appellate challenge to the condition.                                                                                See Vent v. State                                      , 288 P.3d 752, 755 (Alaska App.                                                          

2012) ("[A]n objection is not required to preserve an issue for appeal if the appealing                                                                                                                                                               

party had no opportunity to make an objection.");                                                                                                              Marunich v. State                                        , 151 P.3d 510, 522                               

(Alaska App. 2006).                          

                     38                     United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725, 731 (1993) (quoting Yakus v. United  


States, 321 U.S. 414, 444 (1944)).  


                     39                    Pierce v. State, 261 P.3d 428, 433 (Alaska App. 2011).  


                      40                   Id.  

                      41                   Id.  

                                                                                                                                     -10-                                                                                                                             7234

----------------------- Page 11-----------------------


trial court an opportunity to promptly correct the alleged error.                                                   And it ensures that          

there is both a ruling and a developed factual record for the appellate court to review.                                                            43  

                       There is no reason to deviate from the timely objection rule here as the  


foregoing policy motivations all apply in the sentencing context.   Indeed, there are  


additional considerations that apply in this context.  As the State points out, "[u]nlike  


during trial, a defense attorney need not make a split-second decision whether to object"  


to proposed probation conditions; rather, the attorney has an opportunity to review the  


presentencereportbeforethesentencing hearing and file written objections. Wecan thus  


rely on defense counsel to protect a defendant's interests at sentencing.  


                       More  importantly,  in  deciding  whether  to  impose  proposed  probation  


conditions, a sentencing court is unlikely to consider each condition in a vacuum.  The  


                                                                                                  44   This appears to be the case  

conditions may be interrelated and mutually supporting.                                                                                                  


here, where, for example, the probation officer recommended - and the court imposed  


- a battery of conditions related to Ranstead's substance abuse problem:  conditions  


requiring Ranstead to abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs, submit to a drug test or a  


physical search for drugs and alcohol at the request of a probation officer, not enter bars,  


and  complete  substance  abuse  treatment  if  such  treatment  is  recommended  by  an  


appropriate professional.  


                       Further, some probation conditions are chosen to protect the public and  


ensure rehabilitation of the offender; a sentencing court likely takes these conditions and  


their  probable  effectiveness  into  account  in  deciding  the  length  of  a  defendant's  


            42         Johnson  v.  State,  328  P.3d  77,  82  (Alaska  2014).  

            43         Id.  

            44         See   United  States  v.  Ray,  831  F.3d  431,  438  (7th  Cir.  2016),  cert.  denied,  

 137  S.  Ct.  697  (2017).  

                                                                        -11-                                                                  7234

----------------------- Page 12-----------------------


sentence.                    Under current double jeopardy doctrine, a trial court may be precluded from                                                                                                    

increasing the length of a sentence post-appeal to account for any probation conditions                                                                                                       

                                                                                           46      Allowing a defendant to attack conditions of  

struck down by an appellate court.                                                                                                                                                                                

probation piecemeal on appeal without first bringing the purported errors to the attention  


of the sentencing court may thus undermine the sentencing court's well-considered  


schema.  It could also encourage defendants to strategically withhold objections in the  


hope of obtaining a short sentence without the restrictive probation conditions meant to  


support it.47  


                                 Although Ranstead failed to preserve in the sentencing court challenges to  


a number of probation conditions, the court of appeals may still review those conditions  


for plain error.48                         Under the plain error test, an appellate court may grant relief from an  


improper probation condition if the sentencing court erred in imposing it and if this error  


"(1) was not the result of intelligent waiver or a tactical decision not to object; (2) was  


                 45              See id.  The Public Defender Agency, as amicus curiae, contends that "if                                                                      

a judge decides to impose a lower active term of imprisonment in reliance on particular                                                                                                          

conditions of probation, the judge should articulate this reasoning on the record."                                                                                                                          But  

such reasoning may be implicit in a court's choice of conditions, choice of sentence                                                                                                              

length, and discussion of the sentencing factors, and the Agency has not persuasively                                                                                                    

explained why we should require an explicit statement of the reasoning.                                                                                   

                 46              See Christensen v. State, 844 P.2d 557, 559 (Alaska App. 1993) ("[A]n  


illegal  sentence  should  not  be  increased  unless  absolutely  necessary  to  correct  the  



                 47               Cf. Miller v. State, 312 P.3d 1112, 1115 (Alaska App. 2013).  


                 48              Alaska R. Crim. P. 47(b); Moreno v. State, 341 P.3d 1134, 1139 (Alaska  


2015); see Twogood v. State, 223 P.3d 641, 647 (Alaska App. 2010) (reviewing an  


uncontested probation condition for plain error).  


                                                                                                       -12-                                                                                                 7234

----------------------- Page 13-----------------------


obvious; (3) affected substantial rights; and (4) was prejudicial."                                                                 Thus, for example,  

an appellate court can reverse a probation condition that is plainly contrary to                                                                           Roman  

where the error is prejudicial, affects substantial rights, and was not the product of an                                                                            

intelligent waiver or tactical choice.                                      If the error in the probation condition is of a                                            

constitutional   nature,   the   error  "will   always   affect   substantial   rights   and   will   be  

prejudicial unless the State proves that it was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt."                                                                                50  

                          To sum up, we hold that a sentencing court need not make detailed findings  


to support the imposition of uncontested conditions of probation.  A sentencing court's  


compliance with the procedure set forth in Rules 32.1 and 32.2 and the court's general  


application of the pertinent sentencing principles51  suffice to show that the court has  


discharged its duties under Roman.   We also hold that a defendant must object to a  


proposed probation condition to preserve an appellate challenge and that if a defendant  


fails to do so, an appellate court may review for plain error.52                                                        The court of appeals thus  


should not have vacated the probation conditions to which Ranstead failed to object in  


the superior court, without first applying the plain error test.53  


             49           Adams  v.  State,  261  P.3d  758,  764  (Alaska  2011).  

             50           Id.  at  773.  

             51           See  Alaska  Const.  art.  I,      12;  AS   12.55.005; State  v.   Chaney,  477  P.2d  

441,  444  (Alaska   1970).  

             52           We overrule Beasley v. State, 364 P.3d  1130 (Alaska App. 2015), to the  


extent that it is inconsistent with these principles.  


             53           We additionally note that a number of the probation conditions that the  


court of appeals vacated had not been challenged by Ranstead on appeal.  Appellate  


courts typically do not address issues that the parties have not briefed.  See, e.g., Munn  


v. Thornton, 956 P.2d  1213, 1221 n.11 (Alaska  1998); see also State v. Howard, 357  


P.3d 1207, 1214 (Alaska App. 2015) (Mannheimer, C.J., concurring) ("[I]t is usually a  



                                                                                 -13-                                                                           7234

----------------------- Page 14-----------------------

                          Ranstead argues against a requirement that a defendant object to probation                                                  

conditions   before   sentencing,   noting   that   "[u]nreasonable   and   overly  restrictive  

conditions could undermine the very purpose of probation and the ability of a criminal                                                                  

                                                                                         54  Likewise, thePublicDefender Agency,  

defendant to successfully completeprobation."                                                                                                           

as amicus curiae, claims that Beasley  and similar cases are a response to sentencing  


courts "abdicati[ng] . . . their responsibility to determine whether proposed conditions  


             53           (...continued)  


mistake for the court to issue a ruling that both raises the issue and decides it sua sponte.  


This kind of judicial decision-making, done without the benefit of adversarial briefing  


and argument, provides 'fertile conditions for the creation of judicial error.' " (quoting  


State v.  Angaiak,  847 P.2d  1068,  1073  (Alaska App.  1993))).                                                                 Citing Matthews v.  


Matthews, 739 P.2d 1298, 1299 (Alaska 1987), and United States v. Foxman, 87 F.3d  


 1220, 1222 n.1 (11th Cir. 1996), Ranstead contends that "[r]equiring a trial court to  


consider other issues when a case is remanded on other grounds is an accepted practice  


by appellate courts." But the cases he cites do not support an exception to the plain error  


rule or to the principle that appellate courts generally limit their review to the issues  


presented by the parties.  

             54           We take the opportunity to point out that a defendant's unwillingness to  


submit to conditions that are inconsistent with Roman or are otherwise illegal is not the  


same as an unwillingness to be supervised and should not be construed as such by a  


sentencing court.   On the contrary, unnecessary or illegal probation conditions may  


undermine the goals of sentencing and waste state resources, and challenges to these  


conditions should be welcomed.  See Roman v. State, 570 P.2d 1235, 1243 (Alaska  


 1977) (citing Note, Striking the Balance Between Privacy and Supervision: The Fourth  


Amendment and Parole and Probation Officer Searches of Parolees and Probationers ,  


                                EV. 800,           816 (1976)); R                OGER   K. W            ARREN, N            AT 'L   CTR.   FOR   STATE  

51 N.Y.U. L. R 




JUDICIA R IE S                     iii,        33-34               (2007),       /  

digital/collection/criminal/id/167/ ("Imposing                                          additional conditionsofprobation                                 beyond  

those directly related to the offender's risk level or needs only distracts and impedes the                                                                       

offender and probation officer and undermines the ability of both the court and the                                                                               

probation   officer   to   hold   the   defendant   accountable   for   compliance   with   essential  


                                                                                -14-                                                                          7234

----------------------- Page 15-----------------------


meet thestandards establishedin                                                                     Roman."    But Ranstead's and theAgency's                                                                                               arguments  

do not justify                                forcing sentencing                                            courts to make findings on                                                                 uncontested   issues or   

warrant abandoning the issue preservation doctrine in this context.                                                                                                                                           On the contrary, the                                  

best way to ensure that courts imposelawful probationconditionsand that they discharge                                                                                                                                                          

their duties under                                     Roman  is for defendants to make timely objections to the potentially                                                                                                                

problematic conditions.   

                                          Ranstead also cites case law from other states holding that "[a] defendant                                                                                                                          

is not required to make a contemporaneous objection to conditions of probation which                                                                                                                                                                      

                                     56      But conditions of probation are not illegal merely because a sentencing  

are illegal."                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

court fails to make findings or explicitly justify each probation condition.57                                                                                                                                                               Rather, an  


illegal condition of probation is one that is substantively erroneous - that is, actually  


                                                                                                                                     58       The court of appeals did not make such a  

contrary to Roman or other applicable law.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


                     55                  See Ingles v. State                                      , No. A-11182, 2015 WL 5086373, at *3 (Alaska App.                                                                                                          

Aug. 26, 2015) ("This Court has recently seen several cases where sentencing judges                                                                                                                                                                     

more or less automatically imposed a list of restrictive conditions of probation proposed                                                                                                                                                       

by the Department of Corrections, without a case-specific analysis of whether those                                                                                                                                                                        

conditions werejustified                                                    under the                     Roman  test."(quoting                                               Packard v. State                                  ,No.           A-11187,  

2014 WL 2526118, at *5 (AlaskaApp. May 21, 2014) (Mannheimer, C.J., concurring))).                                                                                                                                                

                     56                  Hughes v. State, 667 So. 2d 910, 912 (Fla. Dist. App. 1996); see also State  


v. Lathrop, 781 N.W.2d 288, 294 (Iowa 2010). But see Lockuk v. State, 153 P.3d 1012,  


 1017-18 (Alaska App. 2007) (reviewing an unpreserved illegal sentence claim for plain  



                     57                   Cf. Lathrop, 781 N.W.2d at 294 (explaining that Iowa's illegal sentence  


exception to the contemporaneous objection rule does not apply to "sentences that are  


within the court's statutory and constitutional authority but were procedurally flawed or  


imposed in an illegal manner"); State v. Stiles, 197 P.3d 966, 968 (Mont. 2008) ("A  


sentence that falls within the statutory parameters constitutes a legal sentence.").  


                     58                  See Bishop v. Municipality of Anchorage, 685 P.2d 103, 105 (Alaska App.  



                                                                                                                                -15-                                                                                                                          7234

----------------------- Page 16-----------------------

substantive determination in the present case when it vacated the uncontested probation                                                                                              


                               Ranstead further argues that we should affirm the judgment of the court of                                                                                              

appeals because "whether the appeal of special conditions of probation is based on                                                                                                                   

objections in the trial court or under the plain error doctrine, the same standard of review                                                                                                

is applied by the appellate court."                                                    According to Ranstead, for both preserved and                                                              

unpreserved error, the question is whether "the special condition [is] consistent with                                                                                                          

Roman."   But this is incorrect.                                         Under plain error review, the proper inquiry is whether                                                         

the   probation   condition   is   plainly   inconsistent   with   Roman   (or   otherwise   plainly  



                58              (...continued)  


 1984)  (setting  forth  three  examples  of  illegal  sentences:                                                                              "(1)  a  sentence  that  was  


contrary to the applicable statute . . . ; (2) a written judgment not conforming to the oral  


pronouncement of sentence; [and] (3) 'a sentence that is ambiguous with respect to the  

                                                                                                                                     HARLES  ALAN  WRIGHT ET AL                                         .,  

time and manner in which it is to be served' " (quoting 3 C 

    EDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE  582, at 381-82 (2d ed. 1982))). This is not to say                                                                                                              


that a procedural defect cannot be a basis for reversal of a probation condition if the                                                                                                             

challenge to the defect is preserved or if the procedural defect constitutes plain error.                                                                                                  

                59              The Public Defender Agency, as amicus curiae, makes a related argument.  


It notes that appellate courts in this state review sentences under a clearly mistaken  


standard of review and that the court of appeals has applied an abuse of discretion  


standard in reviewing probation conditions. See McClain v. State, 519 P.2d 811, 813-14  


(Alaska 1974); Allen v. Municipality of Anchorage , 168 P.3d 890, 895 (Alaska App.  


2007).   The Agency contends that   "[w]hether this court reviews . . . imposition of  


probation conditions for abuse of discretion or for plain error, the same legal standard  


applies."  The Agency's argument fails because the court of appeals did not apply an  


abuse of discretion, a clearly mistaken, or a plain error standard of review when it  


vacated  Ranstead's   uncontested  probation  conditions.                                                                                       See  Ranstead  v.   State,  


No. A-11805, 2016 WL 2944797, at *4 (Alaska App. May 18, 2016). Whether these  


three standards of review are similar as a practical matter - an issue not presented in the  


present discretionary appeal - is thus beside the point.  


                                                                                                 -16-                                                                                           7234

----------------------- Page 17-----------------------

                                Finally, Ranstead argues that the rules announced in the present opinion -                                                                                                   

that   sentencing   courts   need   not   make   detailed   findings   on   uncontested   probation  

conditions and that a defendant must timely object to a proposed probation condition to                                                                                                                       

preserve an appellate challenge - should operate prospectively and should not apply to                                                                                                                        

him. "We consider three factors when deciding whether to apply a new rule retroactively                                                                                             

or prospectively:                          (1) the purpose to be served by the new rule; (2) the extent of reliance                                                                            

on the old                  rule; and                (3)   the effect on                         the   administration of justice of a retroactive                                      

                                         60     The purpose served by the rules announced in this case - namely,  

application . . . ."                                                                                                                                                                           

ensuring an orderly and fair adjudication of proposed probation conditions - is an  


important one and one that weighs in favor of retroactive application.  The reliance on  


the old rule is minimal.  The "old" rule - the one set forth in Beasley - is only about  


                                  61   Ranstead did not rely on it himself, as he was sentenced before Beasley  

two years old.                                                                                                                                                                                  


was issued.  It is conceivable that some other defendants have withheld objections to  


probation conditions in reliance on Beasley, but this would "not [be] the type of reliance  


                                                                                                         62  Finally, we see no reason why application  

we want to encourage as a matter of policy."                                                                                                                                            


of the rules in the present case to Ranstead or others similarly situated would have an  


adverse  effect  on  the  administration  of  justice.                                                                            We  therefore  reject  Ranstead's  


prospective-application argument.  


V.              CONCLUSION  


                                We REVERSE the court of appeals' decision to the extent that it vacates  

conditions of probation to which Ranstead did not object in the superior court and  


REMAND to the court of appeals for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.  


                60              State v. Semancik                          , 99 P.3d 538, 543 (Alaska 2004).                                  

                61              See Beasley v. State                             , 364 P.3d 1130 (Alaska App. 2015).                                       



                                Semancik, 99 P.3d at 543.  

                                                                                                    -17-                                                                                              7234

Case Law
Statutes, Regs & Rules

IT Advice, Support, Data Recovery & Computer Forensics.
(907) 338-8188

Please help us support these and other worthy organizations:
Law Project for Psychiatraic Rights