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William Lewis v. State

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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT					Reporter of Decisions
Decision:	2000 ME 44
Docket:	Som-98-263
Submitted
on briefs:	November 30, 1999
Decided: 	March 10, 2000	
	

Panel:WATHEN, C.J., and CLIFFORD, RUDMAN, DANA, SAUFLEY, and CALKINS, JJ.





WILLIAM LEWIS v. STATE OF MAINE


WATHEN, C.J.


	[¶1]  William Lewis appeals from a judgment entered in the Superior
Court (Somerset County, Alexander, J.) dismissing as moot his petition for
post-conviction review.  Although Lewis has fully served the sentence
imposed upon his conviction for attempted murder, we agree that
significant collateral consequences attendant upon his conviction prevent
the dismissal of his petition as moot.  Accordingly, we vacate the judgment
and remand for further proceedings.
	[¶2] This current action for post-conviction review is the latest
installment{1}  in a long series of actions arising from an incident in 1987 in
which Lewis shot his wife in the chest because of his delusional belief that
she was trying to poison him.  The facts relating to this incident and to
Lewis's trial and subsequent appeal are fully stated in State v. Lewis, 584
A.2d 622, 623 (Me. 1990) and will not be repeated here.  In March of 1993,
approximately midway through his twelve year sentence for attempted
murder, Lewis filed his first petition for post-conviction review.  Although
this petition alleged several grounds for relief, the court summarily
dismissed all but the two grounds that alleged ineffective assistance of
counsel at trial and on appeal. 
	[¶3]  Lewis chose not to go forward solely on the two remaining
grounds and indicated that he would amend his petition to allege alternate
grounds for relief.  Lewis did not file an amended petition, however, until
March of 1998, approximately two and a half years after his release from
prison.  In the intervening five years, Lewis was involved with numerous
disputes with a procession of attorneys, including a dispute that originated
when his then attorney filed a motion to withdraw the petition for post-
conviction review.  After Lewis filed his amended petition, the State filed a
motion to dismiss arguing that the petition was now moot.  The Superior
Court agreed with the State and dismissed the petition.  Lewis appeals from
this order. 
	[¶4]  In reaching its decision, the court relied upon our decisions in
Carter v. State, 452 A.2d 1201 (Me. 1982) and State v. Irish, 551 A.2d 860
(Me. 1988) and concluded that Lewis's release from custody rendered his
petition technically moot and that no exception was justified because Lewis's
case did not present "issues that may repeatedly arise but escape review
because of their determinate nature."  The court correctly relied upon these
cases in determining that Lewis's petition became technically moot when he
had fully served his sentence.  Nonetheless, we have recognized three
exceptions to technical mootness: 
First, the court will determine whether sufficient collateral
consequences will result from determination of the questions
presented so as to justify relief.  Second, while technically moot in
the immediate context, questions of great public interest may
nevertheless be addressed for the future guidance of the bar and the
public.  Third, issues which may be repeatedly presented to the trial
court, yet escape review at the appellate level because of their
fleeting or determinate nature may appropriately be decided.
State v. Gleason, 404 A.2d 573, 578 (Me. 1979) (internal citations omitted). 
In its analysis of these three exceptions, the court incorrectly concluded
that Carter and Irish limited Lewis as a matter of law to the third exception.
	[¶5]  The court's conclusion rests upon a misreading of these two
cases.  Carter and Irish do not restrict the ability of a defendant to invoke
the collateral consequences exception in order to escape mootness.  In
Carter, the petitioner had been committed to jail for failure to pay a fine. 
See Carter, 452 A.2d at 1201.  Because Carter was not challenging the
imposition of the fine, but was only challenging his sentence for failure to
pay the fine, he was not seeking to avoid "the collateral consequences of a
conviction," but instead argued that the short maximum sentence for failure
to pay a fine would cause any problems to escape review.  See id. at 1202. 
Likewise in Irish, the defendant had appealed from the revocation of
intensive supervision and was not directly challenging his conviction, which
would stand regardless of the outcome of this appeal.  See Irish, 551 A.2d at
862.
	[¶6]  In the present case, Lewis is directly challenging his conviction
of attempted murder.  The revocation of parole and a sentence for failure to
pay a fine are not equal to the conviction of a crime.  See State v. Jordan,
1998 ME 174, ¶ 12, n.4, 716 A.2d 1004, 1007 n.4.  When a petitioner is
challenging a conviction, we presume that collateral consequences exist. 
See id. ¶ 12, 716 A.2d at 1007 (citing Bennett v. State, 289 A.2d 28,  31
(Me. 1972)).  It is only when a petitioner has voluntarily completed a
sentence that the challenge to a conviction may be dismissed as moot. 
Compare State v. Snowman, 1997 Me 184, ¶ 5, 698 A.2d 1057, 1058
(holding that defendant had voluntarily served her sentence when she
completed a term of probation that had, at her request, been reinstated over
a stay issued during the pendency of her appeal); State v. Osborne, 143 Me.
10, 54 A.2d 526 (1947)( (holding that voluntary payment of a fine caused
appeal to become moot) with State v. York, 1999 ME 100, ¶ 6, 732 A.2d
859, 861 ("[A] defendant . . . who involuntarily serves a sentence has an
interest in avoiding the collateral consequences of a conviction.").  Lewis
served his sentence involuntarily.  His petition falls under the collateral
consequences exception and may not be dismissed as moot.  See State v.
Fletcher, 288 A.2d 92, 95 (Me. 1972) ("Although Defendant had fully
completed his sentence he was entitled under his already pending petition
for the writ of statutory post-conviction habeas corpus to seek an appeal for
the purpose of removing the conviction from his record.").
	The entry is:
Judgment vacated. 
Remanded for proceedings
consistent with this opinion.

For plaintiff:

William Lewis
P O Box 138
St. Albans, ME 04971

Attorneys for State:

David W. Crook, District Attorney
Andrew Benson, Asst. Dist. Atty.
Court & High Streets
skowhegan, ME 04976
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1} . In addition to the petition in this case, which has already generated three appeals alone, Lewis appealed from his original conviction, see State v. Lewis, 584 A.2d 622 (Me. 1990), petitioned the federal courts for a writ of habeas corpus over the denial of pre-and post- conviction bail, see Lewis v. State of Maine, 736 F.Supp. 13 (D.Me. 1990), and petitioned the federal courts for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his conviction.