Garcia v. North Dakota

Barry Garcia appealed a district court's denial of his request for a new trial and determining N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 did not apply to his criminal sentence. In 1996, Garcia was found guilty of the offense of murder, committed while he was a juvenile, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In 2016, Garcia filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that imposing a sentence of life without parole on a juvenile violated the constitutional standards set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S.Ct. 718 (2016). While Garcia’s appeal was pending, the North Dakota legislature passed HB 1195, which was enacted on April 17, 2017 as N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 and effective August 1, 2017. The North Dakota Supreme Court declined to rule on Garcia’s request to apply N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 because it had not been raised at the district court, and ruled without remanding the issue. Following the appeal of the 2016 denial of post-conviction relief, Garcia filed a motion for a new trial in the district court. The court found that a motion for a new trial was not the correct vehicle for requesting relief under N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1, but pursuant to the consent of both parties, agreed to consider whether N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 applied to Garcia. After a hearing, the court issued an order denying the motion for a new trial and finding N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 did not apply. The Supreme Court determined Garcia’s conviction was final before the statute’s effective date; granting his requested relief would require retroactive application of the statute and would constitute an infringement on the executive pardoning power. Furthermore, Garcia failed to provide newly discovered evidence to support his motion for a new trial. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order. View "Garcia v. North Dakota" on Justia Law