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State v. Sartin

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division, Department A

October 31, 2013


Not for Publication Rule 111, Rules of the Supreme Court


Barbara LaWall, Pima County Attorney By Jacob R. Lines Tucson Attorneys for Respondent

Ronnie G. Sartin Jr. Buckeye In Propria Persona


GARYE L. VÁSQUEZ, Presiding Judge

¶1 Petitioner Ronnie Sartin Jr. seeks review of the trial court's order summarily denying his successive petition for post-conviction relief filed pursuant to Rule 32, Ariz. R. Crim. P., asserting he is entitled, at the very least, to an evidentiary hearing. We will not disturb that ruling unless the court clearly has abused its discretion. State v. Swoopes, 216 Ariz. 390, ¶ 4, 166 P.3d 945, 948 (App. 2007). We find no such abuse here.

¶2 Sartin was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree murder.[1] The trial court sentenced him to a prison term of natural life. We affirmed his conviction and sentence on appeal and denied relief on his petition for review from the court's denial of his first petition for post-conviction relief State v. Sartin, Nos. 2 CA-CR 2008-0025, 2 CA-CR 2008-0235-PR (consolidated) (memorandum decision filed Oct. 16, 2009). In 2011, attorney Stephanie Meade filed a second Rule 32 petition on Sartin's behalf, asserting, inter alia, claims of ineffective assistance of Brick Storts and co-counsel Ian Tomlinson, who had represented Sartin at trial, on appeal, and in his first post-conviction proceeding. Following an evidentiary hearing, the court denied relief, and we denied relief on Sartin's petition for review from that ruling. State v. Sartin, No. 2 CA-CR 2012-0077-PR (memorandum decision filed July 11, 2012).

¶3 Sartin then filed, in propria persona, his third post-conviction petition, asserting trial counsel had been ineffective by failing to (1) investigate cumulative posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) issues, (2) request a new psychological evaluation before his second trial, and (3) conduct plea negotiations adequately. He further asserted that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the PTSD issue on appeal and that Meade similarly was ineffective for failing to allege these claims of trial and appellate counsel's ineffectiveness in Sartin's second post-conviction proceeding. The trial court summarily denied his petition, and this petition for review followed.

¶4 On review, Sartin argues the trial court erred in precluding his claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel.[2] He further contends the court erred by finding Meade was not ineffective for failing to argue that trial and appellate counsel were ineffective for not raising the issues he now presents. In its ruling denying relief, the court first provided an accurate and complete summary of the procedural history of the case. It then correctly found Sartin precluded from raising claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. See Ariz. R. Crim. P. 32.2(a)(3) ("A defendant shall be precluded from relief under this rule based upon any ground . . . [t]hat has been waived at trial, on appeal, or in any previous collateral proceeding.").

5 Generally, a defendant must raise claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, if at all, in his or her initial Rule 32 proceeding. State v. Spreitz, 202 Ariz. 1, ¶ 4, 39 P.3d 525, 526 (2002) ("Our basic rule is that where ineffective assistance of counsel claims are raised, or could have been raised, in a [previous] Rule 32 postconviction relief proceeding, subsequent claims of ineffective assistance will be deemed waived and precluded.") (emphasis omitted); see also Swoopes, 216 Ariz. 390, ¶ 23, 166 P.3d at 952 (same). Thus, because Sartin could have raised, and in fact did raise, claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel in his second Rule 32 petition, the trial court correctly found those claims precluded.

6 The trial court also found Sartin was "not precluded from raising ineffective assistance of counsel claims against previous Rule 32 counsel, Stephanie Meade, Esq., if her failure to raise the alleged ineffective assistance of counsel claims in the previous Rule 32 petition fell below an objective standard [of] reasonableness, and was prejudicial to the defendant." However, this claim is not cognizable under Rule 32. "[T]he non-pleading defendant has 'no constitutional right to counsel or effective assistance in post-conviction proceedings'; although the non-pleading defendant has the right to effective representation on appeal, he has no 'valid, substantive claim under Rule 32' for 'ineffective assistance on a prior [post-conviction relief] petition.'" Osterkamp v. Browning, 226 Ariz. 485, ¶ 18, 250 P.3d 551, 556 (App. 2011), quoting State v. Krum, 183 Ariz. 288, 292 & n.5, 903 P.2d 596, 600 & n.5 (1995) (alteration in Osterkamp). See also State v. Mata, 185 Ariz. 319, 336-37, 916 P.2d 1035, 1052-53 (1996).[3]

¶7 In any event, although it was not required to do so, the trial court correctly addressed the merits of Sartin's claims. In order to state a colorable claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must establish that counsel's performance fell below an objectively reasonable professional standard and that the deficient performance was prejudicial to the defense. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984); State v. Nash, 143 Ariz. 392, 397, 694 P.2d 222, 227 (1985). In a thorough, well-reasoned minute entry, the court identified Sartin's claims and resolved them correctly in a manner permitting this court to review and determine the propriety of that order. See State v. Whipple, 177 Ariz. 272, 274, 866 P.2d 1358, 1360 (App. 1993). The court correctly concluded the claims regarding Meade's ineffectiveness were not colorable. No purpose would be served by restating the court's ruling in its entirety. See id. Rather, we adopt the ruling.

¶8 Accordingly, we grant review but deny relief.


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