Defendant Can't Take Back Guilty Plea Without Supporting Facts

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: criminal law, postconviction relief.

Jason Donald Matakis was charged in Crow Wing County, Minnesota, of six counts of criminal sexual conduct for allegedly sexually abusing his daughter from ages 9 through 11. Investigators had recorded telephone conversations in which he admitted to various sex acts, and he pleaded guilty to one count in March 2011. He was sentenced to 144 months and did not appeal.

In 2013, he filed a petition for postconviction relief and asked for permission to withdraw his guilty plea. He claimed that the plea had not been knowing, voluntary, or intelligent. But other than this conclusion, he didn't make any factual allegations to back up the claim. This petition was filed right before a deadline, and it claimed that scheduling conflicts prevented his attorney from finalizing the documentation. The Crow Wing County District Court rejected the petition, since it didn't include any factual basis. Matakis then appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court that the petition had not included the factual basis, as required by statute.

Nor did the Court of Appeals buy the argument that a scheduling conflict kept him from alleging those facts. The statute makes clear that the fact must be alleged in the petition. There is no exception that would fit this case, and the Court of Appeals noted that he had a full two years to prepare the petition.

For these reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

No. A13-1040, ___ N.W.2d ___ (Minn. Ct. App. Feb. 18, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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