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Hawkins v. Mahoney - 1999 MT 82, 294 Mont. 124, 979 P.2d 697

Rule:

To determine whether a petition is timely, the Montana Supreme Court looks to the statute of limitations in effect at the time the petition for postconviction relief is filed, not to the statute in effect at the time of the conviction.

Facts:

In 1973, defendant Sherman Paul Hawkins was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment for the shooting death of his wife. Hawkin’s first petition for postconviction relief was denied by the trial court, which Hawkins failed to appeal. Subsequently, the trial court summarily dismissed Hawkin’s second petition on the basis that he failed to attach the required affidavits and factual documents and that the ineffective assistance of counsel issues were resolved in the prior proceeding. In 1997, Hawkins petitioned for postconviction relief in an original proceeding, seeking review of his first-degree murder conviction and sentence of life imprisonment, alleging ineffective assistance of his trial counsel.

Issue:

Should a petition for postconviction relief, filed more than 20 years after defendant’s conviction, be granted?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Court denied the third petition, holding that it was time barred under Mont. Code Ann. § 46-21-102 (1991) and a successive petition under Mont. Code Ann. § 46-21-105(1) (1995). The Court applied the five-year limitations period, which was the statute in effect at the time the petition was filed, rather than the statute in effect at the time of conviction.

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