Friesz v. North DakotaAnnotate this Case
Rodney Friesz appealed a district court order denying his application for post-conviction relief. In 2016, Friesz was convicted by jury of manslaughter and arson, both class B felony offenses. Friesz appealed the case, asserting insufficient evidence to support the conviction, and the court erred denying his motion to suppress. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and remanded with instructions for the district court to correct a clerical error in the criminal judgment. In 2018, Friesz filed his first application for post-conviction relief, arguing: (1) his conviction was based on a coerced confession; (2) the evidence admitted was obtained by an unlawful search and seizure; his arrest was unlawful; (3) he was denied the right to call witnesses to testify on his behalf; (4) the State failed to disclose certain evidence; (5) he was denied effective assistance of counsel; and (6) he was denied his right to appeal. The district court denied his application and the Supreme Court summarily affirmed the denial of the application. In 2020, Friesz filed a second application for post-conviction relief, alleging: (1) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; (2) denial of effective assistance of counsel on his post-conviction appeal with appellate counsel; (3) insufficiency of evidence to sustain a conviction; (4) denial of his fourth amendment rights regarding the warrantless search of the residence, the seizure of a firearm, and the failure of the court to grant his motion to suppress; and (5) failure to disclose evidence by the prosecution. The district court dismissed Friesz’s application after finding the two-year statute of limitations in N.D.C.C. 29-32.1-01(2) barred the relief requested, and the application did not state any exceptions to the limitations period listed in N.D.C.C. 29-32.1-01(3). The court found all grounds for relief asserted by Friesz had been or could have been raised in his direct appeal from his conviction or in his previous application for post-conviction relief. Here, Friesz argued in part that the district court acted prematurely in dismissing his application two days after the State requested dismissal, and prior to receiving a response from him. To this, the Supreme Court concurred--the district court erred in its premature ruling. The ruling was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings.