Campbell v. North DakotaAnnotate this Case
Anthony Campbell appealed after the district court summarily dismissed his application for post-conviction relief. In 2016, a jury found Campbell guilty of murder, a class AA felony. His conviction was affirmed on appeal. In November 2017, Campbell filed an application for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The State opposed the application and moved for summary disposition. In December 2017, Campbell amended his application. By the time of a January 2019 status conference, Campbell’s attorney informed the district court that he wanted to have a blood sample tested. The court gave him 30 days to submit information with regard to the testing; nothing was submitted. In April 2019, the State renewed its motion. At an October 2019 hearing on an order to show cause, Campbell’s attorney represented that the private lab would accept the blood sample only if the State submitted it. In March 2020, the court ordered the State to cooperate with the lab and the production of a DNA profile. At a June 2020 status conference, Campbell was unable to attend because of restrictions on transporting inmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Campbell’s counsel was present and acknowledged taking no action on the order to cooperate. The State renewed its motion at the hearing. The court held Campbell failed to meet his burden and granted the summary dismissal. The court requested the State to draft the order dismissing the application. On appeal, Campbell argued his application was dismissed because the district court agreed with the State that his post-conviction counsel did not submit evidence to support the application or respond to the State’s motion. He argued, however, there was a reasonable inference that blood present at the crime scene, if properly tested, would exonerate him. He further contended issues not related to blood testing regarding his trial counsel’s ineffective performance were viable and supported, and that summary disposition had already been denied on those claims. He argued that an evidentiary hearing as to those issues should have been held. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court’s order and judgment summarily dismissing the application was conclusory: in summarily dismissing, the court did not address the specific claims of Campbell’s amended application alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel; did not undertake any analysis under Strickland; and did not adequately explain why an evidentiary hearing on the application, which had originally been ordered in September 2018, was no longer necessary. The judgment was reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings.