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Downs v. State (4/24/2015) ap-2451

Downs v. State (4/24/2015) ap-2451


          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

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                                                                        Court of Appeals No. A-11329  

                                      Appellant,                      Trial Court No. 3PA-10-2351 CR  


                                                                                   O P I N I O N  


                                      Appellee.                           No. 2451 - April 24, 2015  

                     ppeal from the District Court, Third Judicial District, Palmer,  


                   John Wolfe, Judge.  

                   Appearances: Catherine Boruff, Assistant Public Defender, and    

                   Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.  

                   Lindsey   M.   Burton,   Assistant   District   Attorney,   Palmer,  

                   and  Michael  C.  Geraghty,  Attorney  General,  Juneau,  for  the  


                   Before:      Mannheimer,  Chief  Judge,  and  Allard  and  Kossler,  



                   Judge KOSSLER.  

                   The State charged Mark Alan Downs with driving with a revoked license.  

Downs filed a motion to suppress the evidence against him, arguing that the police did  


not have reasonable suspicion to stop him.  The district court denied Downs's motion,  


and Downs filed a petition for review in the superior court.  The superior court granted  


Downs's petition and then affirmed the district court's ruling on its merits.  Downs did  


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

not seek further appellate review at that time.   Instead, he went to trial and was convicted   

of driving with a revoked license.  

                    Downs  now  appeals  his  conviction,  arguing  for  a  second  time  that  the  

district  court  erred  in  denying  his  motion  to  suppress.    Because  Downs  previously  

litigated this issue and obtained an appellate decision on the merits, he is precluded from  


raising the same issue now.  

                    The "law of the case" doctrine restricts the relitigation of issues that were  


decided in an earlier appeal in the same case.  The doctrine is grounded in the principle  


of stare decisis.1  

                           As the Alaska Supreme Court has explained, "Previous decisions on  

such issues - even questionable decisions - become the law of the case and should not  


be  reconsidered  on  remand  or  in  a  subsequent  appeal  except  where  there  exist  


exceptional circumstances presenting a clear error constituting a manifest injustice."2  



The policies underlying this doctrine include avoiding open-ended litigation of the same  


issue, fostering consistent results in the same litigation, ensuring procedural fairness, and  

promoting judicial efficiency.3  

                    In this case, Downs chose to pursue interlocutory review of the district  


court's suppression ruling.  In seeking interlocutory review, Downs had the choice to file  



his petition for review in the superior court or in this Court.                            He chose to file his petition  


in the superior court, which granted his petition and affirmed the district court's ruling  

     1    Beal v. Beal , 209 P.3d 1012, 1016 (Alaska 2009);  see also Hurd v. State                                  , 107 P.3d  

314, 328 (Alaska App. 2005).  

     2    Beal , 209 P.3d at 1016-17 (original quotation marks and citations omitted).  

     3    Petrolane Inc. v. Robles , 154 P.3d 1014, 1026 (Alaska 2007), quoted in Beal, 209  

P.3d at 1017.  

     4    Alaska R. App. P. 402(a)(2); AS 22.10.020; AS 22.07.020.  

                                                              - 2 -                                                          2451

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

on its merits. Downs could have sought review of the superior court's decision by filing                            

a petition for hearing in this Court, but he chose not to.5  

                      The superior court's appellate ruling was thus a final decision that became  


the law of the case. As we have explained, the law of the case doctrine restricts Downs's  


ability to obtain a second appellate review of the district court's ruling unless "there exist  


exceptional circumstances presenting a clear error constituting a manifest injustice."6  We  

conclude that Downs has not met this burden.  


                      Downs alternatively asks us to accept his current appeal as an untimely  

petition for hearing from the superior court's appellate decision.  At the time of the  

superior  court's  appellate  decision,  Alaska  Rule  of  Appellate  Procedure  303(a)(1)  

provided that a petition for hearing could be filed within fifteen days of the date of notice  

of the decision of the intermediate appellate court.7  

                                                                                       Downs's petition for hearing was  

accordingly  due  by  September  14,  2011.8  

                                                                           Appellate  Rule  502(b)  prohibits  us  from  

relaxing that deadline by more than sixty days.  That sixty days expired on November  


14,  2011.    We  do  not  have  jurisdiction  to  accept  Downs's  appeal  as  a  petition  for  


      5    Alaska R. App. P. 302(b)(1).  

      6    Beal , 209 P.3d at 1017 (internal quotation marks and original citations omitted).  

      7    Alaska Appellate Rule 303 has  since been amended to allow thirty days for the filing  

of a petition for hearing.  

      8    Alaska R. App. P. 302(b); former Alaska R. App. P. 303(a)(1) (petition for hearing  

must be filed  within  fifteen  days after  the  date of  notice); Alaska R. Crim. P. 32.3(b)(2) (date  

of notice is the date of distribution).  

      9    See  Lambert v. State , 45 P.3d 1214, 1215-16 (Alaska App. 2002) (holding that this  

Court did not have jurisdiction to  hear  an untimely sentence appeal filed more than sixty days  

after the filing deadline).  

                                                                    - 3 -                                                               2451

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       We AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.  

                                      - 4 -                                          2451

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