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Propst v. State

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

December 19, 2017

JAKIB PROPST, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY The Honorable Wendy Wexler Horn, Judge

          Mary R. Russell, Judge.

         Jakib Propst appeals the dismissal of his Rule 24.035 motion. While he was incarcerated, a public defender became aware of his case and believed he had a viable claim for post-conviction relief. The public defender prepared a motion for Propst to sign, obtained his signature, and told Propst he would file the motion. The public defender, however, miscalculated the deadline, and he filed the motion one day late. It was dismissed as untimely. Propst argues a narrow exception applies to allow the late filing of pro se motions for post-conviction relief because counsel actively interfered with the filing of the motion. Because Propst did not prepare the motion himself or do anything further to ensure the motion was filed on time, this Court holds that the third- party interference exception does not apply. Accordingly, the motion court's judgment dismissing his motion as untimely is affirmed.

         Factual Background

         Jakib Propst was charged with one count of second-degree burglary. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the trial court sentenced Propst to five years' imprisonment, suspended execution of his sentence, and placed him on probation. After the state alleged Propst violated conditions of his probation, the trial court conducted a probation revocation hearing. Propst admitted violating his probation conditions. The trial court revoked Propst's probation and executed his sentence.

         The trial court additionally advised Propst of his right to seek post-conviction relief pursuant to Rule 24.035 and the need to file his motion within 180 days from the date of his delivery to the department of corrections. He was delivered to the department of corrections on April 30, 2014, and, pursuant to Rule 24.035, had until October 27, 2014, to file his motion for post-conviction relief.

         Prior to the October 27 deadline, a public defender in the Farmington office became aware of Propst's case and believed Propst had a viable claim that his trial counsel was ineffective.[1] The public defender scheduled an appointment to meet with Propst at the correctional center on October 27 - the last day Propst could file his motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Rule 24.035. Prior to this meeting, Propst was unaware of any claim under which he could seek relief.

         The public defender advised Propst he had prepared a Form 40 for Propst to sign[2]and a public defender in the appellate division would be appointed to represent him once his initial motion was filed. After Propst signed the Form 40 at the public defender's request, the public defender stated he would file it on Propst's behalf.

         The public defender testified that, because he believed Propst's deadline to file his motion was October 28, he filed the motion on that day. The motion court dismissed Propst's Rule 24.035 pro se motion as untimely, applying this Court's holding in Price v. State, 422 S.W.3d 292 (Mo. banc 2014). Propst appeals.[3]

         Standard of Review

         Appellate review of a motion court's dismissal of a post-conviction relief motion is limited to determining whether the findings and conclusions of law are clearly erroneous. Id. at 294. A motion court's findings and conclusions are clearly erroneous if this Court "is left with the definite and firm impression that a mistake has been made" after a review of the entire record. Id.

         Analysis

         Propst argues the motion court erred in dismissing his post-conviction relief motion as untimely because it was no fault of his own but, rather, the result of active interference by a third party - the public defender who assumed the duty of filing the pro se motion. Because of this alleged interference, Propst contends the motion court should not have dismissed his motion to proceed as untimely.

         Rule 24.035(a) provides that, absent appeal, a person claiming his or her conviction or sentence imposed after a guilty plea violates the constitution and laws of the United States or Missouri, including claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, may file a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the trial court's judgment or sentence. Such a motion must be filed within 180 days of the person being delivered to the custody of the department of corrections. Rule 24.035(b). "Failure to file a motion within the time provided by this Rule 24.035 shall constitute a complete waiver ...


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