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Bishop v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

September 13, 2017

MAX DOUGLAS BISHOP APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04CR-08-1150] HONORABLE BRADLEY LEWIS KARREN, JUDGE

          Max Douglas Bishop, pro se appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          OPINION

          RITA W. GRUBER, Chief Judge.

         Max Douglas Bishop appeals the Benton County Circuit Court's order denying his petition for postconviction relief under Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 37.1. In a previous decision, we addressed his direct appeal and affirmed his convictions on thirty counts of distributing, possessing, or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. Bishop v. State, 2015 Ark.App. 436, 467 S.W.3d 763. Bishop then filed in the trial court a petition for postconviction relief; after conducting a hearing, the trial court denied the petition. Bishop then appealed the trial court's denial of his petition for postconviction relief, and we ordered rebriefing for failure to comply with Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 4-7(c) (2016)-the rule in effect at the time governing pro se briefs filed by incarcerated persons in appeals of postconviction-relief proceedings. Bishop v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 246, at 2. Our supreme court subsequently amended Rule 4-7, striking requirements of the 2016 rule that were the bases for our order for rebriefing. See Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 4-7(a) & (c) (2017). In Bishop v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 366, at 2 (per curiam), we found that our order for rebriefing was no longer necessary because of the change in Rule 4-7, and we ordered the clerk of our court to restore the case on the calendar. The case has now been restored, and we address Bishop's appeal of the denial of his petition for postconviction relief.

         Bishop's first argument is that the appeal record for this matter is incomplete. His second, third, and fourth arguments are that the trial court erred in determining that probable cause existed to search his residence, that a valid search warrant existed for forensic analysis of seized equipment, and that he was not prejudiced "by the lack of meta data of alleged chat transcripts entered into evidence." His final argument is that the trial court erred in concluding that he could be charged with multiple counts under Ark. Code Ann. § 5-27-602. We affirm.[1]

         On review, we assess the effectiveness of counsel under the two-prong standard set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), whereby a petitioner must demonstrate that counsel made errors so serious that it prejudiced the outcome of the trial. Sartin v. State, 2012 Ark. 155, at 2-3, 400 S.W.3d 694, 697-98. The reviewing court indulges in a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance. Id. The defendant claiming ineffective assistance of counsel has the burden of overcoming this presumption by identifying the acts and omissions of counsel which, when viewed from counsel's perspective at the time of trial, could not have been the result of reasonable professional judgment. Id. To satisfy the prejudice part of the test, the petitioner must show that counsel's deficient performance prejudiced the defense, such that there is a reasonable probability that the trial's outcome would have been different absent counsel's errors. Id. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome of the trial. Id.

         Bishop filed a timely petition for postconviction relief, claiming that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to (1) file a motion to suppress evidence seized during execution of a search warrant on his residence; (2) call witnesses to show that other people had access to his computer; (3) object to the State's mentioning the 5000 images depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child found on his computer, even though he was charged with only 30 counts; (4) object to the State's charging him with 30 counts instead of a single count under Ark. Code Ann. § 5-27-602(a)(2) (Repl. 2013); and (5) file a motion to dismiss on speedy-trial grounds. Simultaneously with the filing of his original petition, he filed a motion for leave to file an amended petition. He later filed a second motion to file an amended petition, which the trial court granted. With the second motion, he filed an amended petition containing the additional claims that his counsel was ineffective for failing to (1) file a motion to suppress the evidence discovered on his computer pursuant to a search warrant, (2) consolidate the charges against him, (3) subpoena his work records to show that he could not have committed the charged offenses, and (4) introduce metadata of the chat transcripts.

         In its written order, the trial court applied the two-prong standard of Strickland v. Washington, supra, and concluded that Bishop failed to prove either prong. The court ruled that (1) an independent magistrate found that there was sufficient probable cause to support both search warrants, and trial counsel concluded there was sufficient probable cause and that there was no legal basis to challenge it; (2) trial counsel did not call any witnesses on behalf of Bishop because he told counsel that he did not want any witnesses called; (3) it was proper for the State to mention uncharged counts of child pornography under Ark. R. Evid. 404(b) to show absence of mistake or accident; (4) under Ark. Code Ann. § 5-27-602(a)(2) (Repl. 2013), it was appropriate and permitted for the State to charge Bishop with 30 counts of distributing, possessing, or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child; (5) Bishop failed to prove that the time for a speedy trial had expired or that he was prejudiced by speedy-trial time being charged to him or being excluded, and much of the delay was caused by Bishop's asking for continuances; (6) trial counsel's decision not to join Bishop's two separate cases was trial strategy, and Bishop failed to show prejudice; (7) because he confessed and because-as found by the lower court and the appellate court-he was in exclusive control of the computer, he was not prejudiced by his work records' not being introduced at trial; and (8) he "was not prejudiced by any meta data of chatroom transcripts allegedly not entered into evidence."

         I. Bishop's Claim that the Appeal Record Was Incomplete

         The trial record was admitted at the Rule 37 hearing as a self-authenticating document. Bishop claims on appeal that he should have access to "at least the challenged portions of this document, " particularly the search warrants for his residence and for forensic analysis, [2] and the chat log metadata transcripts.

         "[A]n appeal from an order denying postconviction relief is the review of the decision made by the trial court based on the petition before it." Carter v. State, 2015 Ark. 166, at 8, 460 S.W.3d 781, 789. An appellant in a Rule 37.1 proceeding is therefore limited to the scope and nature of his arguments below, and he cannot add new arguments on appeal.

         "In order for an issue that was not raised at trial or on direct appeal to provide a basis for Rule 37 relief, the error alleged must be so fundamental as to render the judgment of conviction void and subject to collateral attack." State v. Rainer, 2014 Ark. 306, at 15, 440 S.W.3d 315, 324. No such exception exists here. Bishop did not allege at trial, on direct appeal, or in his Rule 37 petition that the trial record was incomplete; nor did he file a Cite as 2017 Ark.App. 435 motion for access to a complete trial record. Thus, his claim is not cognizable as a Rule 37 claim.

         II. Bishop's Claim that the Trial Court Erred in Determining that Probable Cause ...


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