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State v. Neilan

Docket No. 20210065
Oral Argument: Friday, September 24, 2021 2:45 PM

Docket Info

Title
State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
Bradley M. Neilan, Defendant and Appellee
Case Type
CRIMINAL APPEAL : DRUGS/CONTRABAND
Appeal From
Case No. 2019-CR-03416
South Central Judicial District, Burleigh County
Bobbi Brown Weiler

Parties' Statement of Issues

  • Appellant

    (1) Whether relief under N.D.R.Crim.P. 35(b) from a plea agreement made pursuant to N.D.R.Crim.P. 11(c)(1)(C) should be limited to exceptional cases and, if so, whether this is such a case where N.D.R.Crim. 35(b) relief is warranted.
    (2) Whether the district court abused its discretion in reducing the Neilan’s sentence under Rule 35(b), where the district court filed its own Rule 35(b) motion the day after it ordered judgment to be entered pursuant to a binding plea agreement that included a specific sentence.

  • Appellee 1

    I. Whether the State has standing to appeal the District Court’s Order granting the Court’s Rule 35(b) Motion for Sentence Reduction.
    II. If this Court finds the State does have standing, whether the statutory language of N.D.R.Crim.P. Rule 35 is unambiguous and the District Court’s actions were correct under the law.
    III. If this Court finds the State does have standing and N.D.R.Crim.P. Rule 35 is ambiguous, whether the supposed ambiguity in how N.D.R.Crim.P. Rule 35 and Rule 11 interact should be construed in favor of Neilan.
    IV. Whether the Semler case forecloses the District Court’s action in this case.
    1. Whether the Semler decision is binding on the District Court or this Court and whether policy reasons argue against its adoption.
    2. Whether this Court should consider extrinsic evidence outside of N.D.R.Crim.P. Rule 35.
    3. If this Court is inclined to adopt the holding in Semler that a defendant’s sentence shall only be reduced in exceptional circumstances, whether the District Court found that exceptional circumstances exist in the present matter.
    V. If this Court finds the State does have standing, whether the drafters’ legislative intent is to permit Courts on their own Motion to reduce sentences within 120 days under N.D.R.Crim.P. Rule 35 after the same court imposed the original sentence under N.D.R.Crim.P. Rule 11.
    VI. If this Court finds the State does have standing, whether the District Court accepting a binding plea agreement and subsequently reducing Neilan’s sentence to probation under N.D.R.Crim.P. Rule 35(b) is an abuse of discretion.
    VII. If this Court finds the State does have standing and the District Court unilaterally accepting a binding plea agreement and subsequently reducing Neilan’s sentence to probation under N.D.R.Crim.P. Rule 35(b) was an abuse of discretion, whether reversal is warranted.


Summary

The State of North Dakota appeals from an order reducing Bradley Neilan’s sentence after a plea agreement was entered.

In 2019, Neilan was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. In 2021, the State and Neilan reached a plea agreement in which the firearm enhancements were dropped, thereby removing the mandatory minimum sentence. On February 10, 2021, the district court signed and entered the plea agreement. Later that day, the court filed a N.D.R.Crim.P. 35(b) motion to consider reducing Neilan’s sentence from incarceration to probation. On February 12, 2021, after both parties briefed the issue, the court reduced Neilan’s sentence from incarceration to probation.

On appeal, the State argues Rule 35(b) relief is limited to exceptional cases, and the district court abused its discretion by reducing Neilan’s sentence and circumventing N.D.R.Crim.P. 11 after it accepted the plea agreement. Neilan argues the State does not have standing to appeal, the interpretation of Rule 35 favors the defendant, and the district court did not abuse its discretion.


Briefs

Filing Date Description
06/04/2021 APPELLANT BRIEF View
07/06/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF View
07/20/2021 REPLY BRIEF View

Counsel

Party Type Name
APPELLEE PRIVATE PRACTICE Philip Becher - 08885
APPELLANT ASST. STATE'S ATTORNEY Dennis H. Ingold - 06950
APPELLEE PRIVATE PRACTICE Elisabeth E. Hewett - 08871

(Note: Attachments may not be available for recently filed cases and/or confidential documents.)

Seq. # Filing Date Description Attachment
1 02/25/2021 NOTICE OF APPEAL : 02/25/2021
2 02/25/2021 ORDER FOR TRANSCRIPT : 02/26/2021
3 02/26/2021 NOT. OF FILING NOT. OF APPEAL AND PROOF OF SERV.
4 02/26/2021 Notice served on Dennis H. Ingold & Philip Becher
5 03/24/2021 ELEC. RECORD ON APPEAL DATED MARCH 23, 2021 (ENTRY NOS.1-85)
6 04/23/2021 ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPT DATED FEBRUARY 9, 2021
7 04/23/2021 TRANSCRIPT C.O.S.
8 04/26/2021 ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPT DATED DECEMBER 16, 2019
9 04/26/2021 TRANSCRIPT C.O.S.
10 06/04/2021 APPELLANT BRIEF View
11 06/04/2021 Oral Argument Request by Appellant
12 06/04/2021 APPELLANT APPENDIX
13 06/04/2021 Rec'd Written Consent of Dennis Ingold for Jamie Schaible, Law Student
14 06/08/2021 Rec'd 4 copies of ATB & ATA from CSD
15 07/06/2021 APPELLEE BRIEF View
16 07/06/2021 APPELLEE APPENDIX
17 07/06/2021 Oral Argument Request by Appellee
18 07/09/2021 Rec'd 4 copies of AEB & AEA from CSD
19 07/20/2021 REPLY BRIEF View
20 07/22/2021 Rec'd 4 copies of RYB from CSD
21 08/05/2021 NOTICE OF ORAL ARGUMENT SENT