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NOTICE The text of this opinion can be corrected before the opinion is published in the Pacific Reporter. Readers are encouraged to bring typographical or other formal errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts: 303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Fax: (907) 264-0878 E-mail: email@example.com IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ALASKA
|MATTHEW MARK MOORE,||)|
|) Court of Appeals No. A-9691|
|Appellant,||) Trial Court No. 2NO-02-454 CR|
|) O P I N I O N|
|STATE OF ALASKA,||)|
|Appellee.||) No. 2143 January 18, 2008|
Appeal from the Superior Court, Second Judi cial District, Nome, Ben J. Esch, Judge. Appearances: Averil Lerman and Dan Bair, Assistant Public Advocates, and Joshua P. Fink, Public Advocate, Anchorage, for the Appellant. Daine L. Wendlandt, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Talis J. Colberg, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee. Before: Coats, Chief Judge, and Mannheimer and Stewart, Judges. STEWART, Judge. MANNHEIMER, Judge, concurring. In Moore v. State, 123 P.3d 1081 (Alaska App. 2005), we affirmed Matthew Mark Moores convictions for attempted first- degree sexual assault, attempted second-degree sexual assault and first-degree burglary,1 but we held that under the rule in Whitton v. State,2 Moores convictions for attempted first- and attempted second-degree sexual assault must merge.3 We rejected Moores claims regarding his sentence, except for his claim that the record did not support statutory aggravating factor AS 12.55.155(c)(8) (Moores criminal history includes conduct involving aggravated or repeated instances of assaultive behavior) because the record did not show that Moore had a criminal history of repeated instances of assaultive conduct. Because the superior court was required to resentence Moore, we left that issue for the superior court to address at resentencing.4 At resentencing, Moore conceded that he had two juvenile adjudications for assault. The superior court found that aggravator (c)(8) applied. Originally, Superior Court Judge Ben J. Esch sentenced Moore to a composite term of 12 years with 4 suspended. At Moores resentencing, Judge Esch imposed an 8- year term with 3 years suspended for attempted first-degree sexual assault. (The conviction for attempted second-degree assault merged with this count.) Judge Esch imposed a 2-year term for first-degree burglary with 1 year of that term consecutive to attempted first-degree sexual assault. Thus, Moore received a composite 9-year term with 3 years suspended. We discussed the facts of Moores case in the earlier opinion and will not repeat them here. Moore appeals. Moores attack on the superior courts finding that aggravator (c)(8) applied Moore advances several attacks on the superior courts finding of the (c)(8) aggravator. For the most part, Moore raises arguments that could have been raised in his first appeal or that were resolved by that opinion.5 In the first appeal, Moore argued that the sentence for attempted first-degree sexual assault was excessive, that the two sexual assault charges should have merged at sentencing, and that the court erroneously failed to find a statutory mitigating factor. Moore also claimed that Judge Esch increased his sentence based on finding a statutory aggravating factor in violation of Blakely v. Washington.6 Finally, Moore contended that the composite sentence he received was excessive. We agreed with Moore that merger was required, but rejected Moores other claims with the exception of the issue of whether there was an evidentiary basis for aggravator (c)(8) that complied with Blakely. Moore argues that the superior court could not rely on his juvenile adjudication for conduct that constituted third- degree assault because that adjudication was ultimately vacated. However, the Alaska Supreme Court in Berfield v. State7 ruled that, while a defendants juvenile history cannot be used to impose a mandatory sentence, that history is relevant information about a defendants life, characteristics, background and behavior before the age of 18.8 Under Berfield, the conduct underlying Moores adjudication for third-degree assault was pertinent information for sentencing purposes. Consistent with Blakely, Moore had the right to demand that the State prove the conduct alleged in the delinquency petition to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.9 Moore recognizes that an adult conviction that has been set aside may be used as a basis for an aggravating factor.10 But Moore argues that a vacated adjudication should not be used to support aggravator (c)(8) because of differences between a juvenile proceeding and an adult criminal case. But as the supreme court indicated in Berfield, a defendants conduct as a juvenile is relevant for sentencing purposes. And a juvenile adjudication in Alaska contains the hallmarks that satisfy Blakely the right to a jury trial and the States burden to prove the delinquency petition beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, Judge Esch ruled that the important issue in Moores case was not that Moore had two juvenile adjudications for assault, but was whether, consistent with the requirements of Blakely, each of Moores adjudications established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Moore had engaged in repeated instances of assaultive behavior. Moore contends that AS 47.12.180(a) bars the use of a juvenile adjudication as a prior criminal conviction. But Judge Esch did not use Moores history of juvenile adjudications to establish that he had prior criminal convictions. Aggravator (c)(8) does not require proof of a conviction but is established by proof of aggravated or repeated instances of assaultive behavior. The State could have proven repeated instances of assaultive behavior whether or not Moore had been adjudicated a delinquent. But the two juvenile adjudications that Moore conceded at trial established, consistent with Blakely, that Moore had a history of repeated instances of assaultive behavior. Conclusion The judgment of the superior court is AFFIRMED. MANNHEIMER, Judge, concurring. In Moore v. State, 123 P.3d 1081 (Alaska App. 2005), we affirmed Matthew Mark Moores convictions for attempted first- degree sexual assault and first-degree burglary,1 but we directed the superior court to reconsider whether the evidence supported a finding of aggravating factor AS 12.55.155(c)(8) i.e., whether Moore had a criminal history of aggravated or repeated instances of assaultive behavior. During the resentencing proceedings that were held on remand, Moore conceded that he had two prior delinquency adjudications for assault an adjudication for third-degree assault, and an adjudication for fourth-degree assault. Based on these two delinquency adjudications, Superior Court Judge Ben J. Esch found that aggravator (c)(8) was proved. Moore now appeals this ruling. Moores initial argument is that Judge Esch violated Moores Sixth Amendment right to jury trial, as interpreted in Blakely v. Washington,2 when the judge decided aggravator (c)(8) without submitting this issue to a jury. Under Blakely, a defendant is normally entitled to a jury trial on any issue of fact which, if found in the States favor, will increase the defendants potential maximum sentence. However, Blakely makes an exception for findings of fact that are based on a defendants prior convictions. These factual issues need not be submitted to a jury.3 In Milligrock v. State, 118 P.3d 11, 16 (Alaska App. 2005), this Court expressly held that a sentencing judge could properly find aggravator (c)(8), without submitting the aggravator to a jury, so long as the judges finding was based solely on the defendants undisputed prior convictions for crimes of assault. In the present case, Judge Eschs finding of aggravator (c)(8) was based, not on Moores prior criminal convictions, but rather on Moores prior delinquency adjudications for conduct that would have constituted crimes of assault if Moore had been an adult. But in Greist v. State, 121 P.3d 811, 814 (Alaska App. 2005), this Court held that Alaska delinquency adjudications fall within Blakelys prior conviction exception because, under Alaska law, juvenile offenders have the same two crucial procedural protections as adult criminal defendants: the right to trial by jury, and the right to require the government to prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, under our decision in Greist, Judge Esch did not violate Blakely when he decided aggravator (c)(8) without submitting the aggravator to a jury, because his finding was based solely on Moores prior delinquency adjudications for assault. Moore suggests that the holding in Greist applies only to delinquency adjudications for felony conduct, not misdemeanor conduct such as Moores adjudication for fourth-degree assault. It is true that, in Greist, we stated that an Alaska juvenile delinquency adjudication based on felony conduct falls within the Blakely exception for prior convictions. Id. at 814 (emphasis added). However, the aggravating factor that was at issue in Greist was aggravator (c)(19) the aggravator that applies when a defendants prior criminal history includes an adjudication as a delinquent [minor] for conduct that would have been a felony if committed by an adult. AS 12.55.155(c)(19) (emphasis added). In other words, Greists language about delinquency adjudications based on felony conduct must be understood in the context of litigation about an aggravator that applies only to delinquency adjudications based on felony conduct. No portion of our decision in Greist or, at least, no portion other than this one phrase taken out of context suggests that the Blakely prior conviction exception should not apply to all delinquency adjudications, whether based on felony or misdemeanor conduct. In fact, the rationale that we gave in Greist for treating delinquency adjudications as prior convictions under Blakely applies equally to both of these types of delinquency adjudications. Regardless of whether the minors underlying conduct would constitute a felony or a misdemeanor, Alaska law gives the minor the right to trial by jury and the right to demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt.4 For these reasons, I reject Moores argument that our holding in Greist should be limited to felony conduct. Moore also argues that Greist was wrongly decided that the result in Greist is inconsistent with Alaska juvenile delinquency law. Moore relies specifically on AS 47.12.180(3), which declares that a delinquency adjudication does not operate to permit the adjudication to be afterward considered a [criminal] conviction. Based on this statute, Moore argues that this Court violated Alaska law when we declared that delinquency adjudications should be treated like prior convictions for purposes of Blakelys prior conviction exception to the right to jury trial. Moores argument is based on a misunderstanding of a point of law that was explained by the Alaska Supreme Court in Berfield v. State, 458 P.2d 1008 (Alaska 1969). In Berfield, a sentencing judge relied on the defendants prior delinquency adjudications when explaining why he believed that the defendant should receive a lengthy sentence of imprisonment for a new crime.5 Berfield argued that this was legal error. Citing former AS 47.10.080(g) the predecessor to current AS 47.12.180 Berfield argued that it was unlawful for the sentencing judge to rely on his delinquency adjudications because the statute declared that a delinquency adjudication [could not] be afterward deemed a [criminal] conviction.6 But in Berfield, the supreme court explained that this statute was not intended to bar judges from considering the conduct underlying a prior delinquency adjudication. Rather, the statute was intended to ensure that a delinquency adjudication would not be treated as the equivalent of a criminal conviction when the very existence of a conviction makes a difference to the defendants legal status as, for instance, when the existence or number of a defendants prior convictions will determine the defendants mandatory minimum sentence.7 Thus, the supreme court held, the sentencing judges act of considering and weighing the conduct underlying Berfields prior delinquency adjudications did not constitute using the juvenile [adjudications] as criminal convictions.8 In the present case, Judge Eschs consideration of Moores prior assaultive behavior conformed to the rule announced in Berfield. The issue before Judge Esch was whether the State had proved aggravator (c)(8) i.e., whether Moores history included repeated instances of assaultive behavior. To resolve this issue, Judge Esch could properly take account of the fact that Moore had twice been adjudicated a delinquent minor for engaging in assaultive behavior. Berfield holds that a sentencing judge can rely on a defendants past conduct, even though that conduct led to a delinquency adjudication. Anticipating this analysis of the question, Moore argues that if Judge Esch was relying solely on the prior underlying conduct, without regard to whether that conduct led to a delinquency adjudication, then Judge Esch violated Blakely because the judge was no longer operating within the exception for prior convictions. This argument is based on a misunderstanding of Blakely. The announced aim of Blakely is to ensure a defendants right to jury trial (and the right to demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt) when the resolution of an issue of fact will affect the defendants potential maximum sentence. As this Court explained in Edmonds v. State, 118 P.3d 17, 20 (Alaska App. 2005), the Blakely Court exempted issues of fact that are resolved by a defendants prior conviction because, in order to convict someone of a crime, the government must have already honored (or the defendant must have affirmatively waived) the right to trial by jury and the right to demand proof of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The Blakely exception for prior convictions applies, of course, to aggravators that are proved by the existence of prior convictions for instance, aggravator (c)(15), which applies to defendants who have more than two prior felony convictions. But this Court has repeatedly recognized that the Blakely prior conviction exception also applies to aggravators that are proved by the type of conduct that underlies a prior conviction aggravators such as (c)(21) (prior similar criminal behavior)9, (c)(18)(B) (prior sexually assaultive or abusive conduct)10, and the aggravator involved in this case, (c)(8) (prior assaultive conduct).11 Proof of these aggravators does not hinge on the fact that the defendants prior behavior resulted in a criminal conviction. Indeed, we have construed these aggravators to apply to all instances of a defendants past behavior, whether that behavior resulted in a criminal conviction or not.12 In other words, the fact that the defendants underlying behavior may have led to a criminal conviction is irrelevant to the issue of whether the aggravator is proved. But because of the right to jury trial recognized in Blakely, the fact that the defendants conduct led to a conviction is quite relevant to another issue the issue of which trier of fact (sentencing judge or jury) must decide whether the aggravator is proved. If the prior conduct led to a conviction, the sentencing judge is authorized to consider that conduct without submitting the issue to a jury. I now apply this law to the facts of Moores case. On the issue of whether the evidence in Moores case established aggravator (c)(8), it was irrelevant that Moores assaultive behavior had led to delinquency adjudications. It was the underlying conduct that was relevant. Thus, under the rule announced in Berfield, these delinquency adjudications were not being treated as the equivalent of criminal convictions. The fact that Moores past instances of assaultive behavior resulted in delinquency adjudications was important, however, for a different purpose: it allowed Judge Esch to resolve aggravator (c)(8) without submitting the aggravator to a jury, because of the Blakely exception for prior convictions. For these reasons, Judge Esch violated neither AS 47.12.180 nor Blakely when he found aggravator (c)(8) based on the assaultive conduct underlying Moores prior delinquency adjudications. Moore next argues that Judge Esch could not properly rely on Moores delinquency adjudication for third-degree assault. Moore notes that this adjudication was later set aside by the superior court, based on the fact that Moore successfully completed his probation. Because this delinquency adjudication was set aside, Moore argues that Judge Esch was prohibited from considering the conduct underlying this adjudication when he made his decision on aggravator (c)(8). I conclude that Moores contention is again answered by the supreme courts decision in Berfield. Proof of aggravator (c)(8) did not hinge on the existence of the set-aside delinquency adjudication. Rather, the proof of this aggravator rested on the conduct underlying the set-aside adjudication. Under the rule announced in Berfield, it was proper for Judge Esch to consider Moores prior conduct. In this context, it is important to distinguish cases such as Moores, where a prior conviction or a prior delinquency adjudication is set aside because of the defendants later successful completion of probation, from cases where a defendants conviction or delinquency adjudication is later vacated based on proof of the defendants factual innocence. In the latter category of cases, it would obviously be improper for a judge to rely on the conviction or delinquency adjudication as proof of the underlying criminal conduct alleged by the State. But Moores case is among the first category of cases cases where the conviction or delinquency adjudication is set-aside for reasons unrelated to the defendants factual guilt. It could certainly be argued that a sentencing judge should give lesser or little weight to aggravator (c)(8) that is, to a defendants history of assaultive behavior if the defendants later progress toward rehabilitation indicates that the defendant is no longer likely to commit acts of violence. Nevertheless, the fact that the defendant committed acts of assault in the past remains proved, despite the set-aside based on the defendants later successful completion of probation. Moore next argues that notions of due process should bar a judge (or even a jury) from relying on a defendants prior misdemeanor-level assaults, committed when the defendant was a minor, for purposes of proving aggravator (c)(8). Specifically, Moore argues that, because the apparent purpose of aggravator (c)(8) is to identify adult felony defendants who are atypically dangerous (i.e., who are more assaultive than a typical felony offender), it makes little sense to allow aggravator (c)(8) to be proved by misdemeanor-level assaults committed when the defendant was a young teenager. According to Moore, such youthful offenses have essentially no probative value on the issue of an adult offenders level of dangerousness or, at least, so little probative value that it violates due process to allow this youthful misconduct to be used as proof of aggravator (c)(8). I reject this argument for much the same reasons I rejected Moores argument about the set-aside adjudication. It may be that a sentencing judge should give little or no weight to a delinquency adjudication for assaultive conduct if that assaultive conduct occurred when the defendant was quite young and the defendant has not continued to exhibit violent behavior in later life. On the other hand, if a defendant commenced violent behavior when quite young and continues to exhibit violent behavior even after reaching greater maturity, this would be quite relevant to the sentencing judges assessment of the defendants level of dangerousness and the defendants potential for rehabilitation. In other words, there may be times when the circumstances of the case suggest that a sentencing judge should give little weight to an early delinquency adjudication for assaultive conduct. But on the other hand, there will be times when this type of delinquency adjudication will properly be viewed as significant to the sentencing decision. Moore is simply incorrect when he asserts that such delinquency adjudications are uniformly so irrelevant that it violates the guarantee of due process of law for a judge to consider them. Moore argues in the alternative that, even if Judge Esch was entitled to rely on Moores prior delinquency adjudications, the State failed to adequately prove the existence of these adjudications. Moore points out that the State failed to present certified copies of the judgements in those prior delinquency cases, and instead relied simply on peoples statements that those adjudications existed. But Moore did not and does not dispute the existence of those delinquency adjudications. Thus, to the extent that the State might be faulted for failing to formally prove the adjudications, any error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, Moore argues that the Alaska Constitution independently guarantees a right to jury trial that parallels Blakely (that is, a right to trial by jury on any issue of fact that will trigger a higher maximum sentence), except that the Alaska right of jury trial contains no exception for findings of fact based on a defendants prior convictions. We rejected this contention in both Lockuk v. State, 153 P.3d 1012, 1017 (Alaska App. 2007), and Active v. State, 153 P.3d 355, 366-67 (Alaska App. 2007). Specifically, in Active this Court held that the Alaska Constitution guarantees [no] broader right to jury trial with respect to sentencing factors than the right to jury trial recognized in Blakely. Id. at 367. For all of these reasons, I agree with my colleagues that the superior courts judgement should be affirmed. _______________________________ 1 AS 11.41.410(a)(1)and AS 11.31.100(a); AS 11.41.420(a)(3)(B) and AS 11.31.100(a); and AS 11.46.300(a)(1), respectively. 2 479 P.2d 302 (Alaska 1970). 3 Moore, 123 P.3d at 1092-94. 4 Id. at 1092. 5 See Hurd v. State, 107 P.3d 314, 327-29 (Alaska App. 2005) (holding that Alaskas law of the case doctrine includes prohibition against claim-splitting). 6 542 U.S. 296, 124 S. Ct. 2531, 159 L. Ed. 2d 403 (2004). 7 458 P.2d 1008 (Alaska 1969). 8 Berfield, 458 P.2d at 1011-12. 9 See Greist v. State, 121 P.3d 811, 813-14 (Alaska App. 2005). 10 See Petersen v. State, 930 P.3d 414, 437 (Alaska App. 1996). 1 AS 11.41.410(a)(1) and AS 11.46.300(a)(1), respectively. 2 542 U.S. 296, 124 S.Ct. 2531, 159 L.Ed.2d 403 (2004). 3 See Edmonds v. State, 118 P.3d 17, 20 (Alaska App. 2005) (explaining the legal basis for Blakelys prior conviction exception to the Sixth Amendment right to jury trial). 4 State v. Auliye, 57 P.3d 711, 714 (Alaska App. 2002). 5 Berfield, 458 P.2d at 1010. 6 Id. at 1011. 7 Id. at 1011. 8 Id. at 1012. 9 See Lockuk v. State, 153 P.3d 1012, 1014-15 (Alaska App. 2007); Grohs v. State, 118 P.3d 1080, 1083-84 (Alaska App. 2005). 10See Active v. State, 153 P.3d 355, 366 (Alaska App. 2007). 11See Milligrock v. State, 118 P.3d 11, 15-16 (Alaska App. 2005). 12See Russell v. State, 934 P.2d 1335, 1347 (Alaska App. 1997); Fagan v. State, 779 P.2d 1258, 1260 (Alaska App. 1989).
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