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State v. Stejskal

Court of Appeals of New Mexico

May 15, 2018

STATE OF NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
WILBUR M. STEJSKAL, Defendant-Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF CURRY COUNTY Fred T. Van Soelen, District Judge

          Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General Santa Fe, NM Laurie Blevins, Assistant Attorney General Albuquerque, NM for Appellee

          Robert E. Tangora Robert E. Tangora, LLC Santa Fe, NM for Appellant

          OPINION

          HENRY M. BOHNHOFF, JUDGE

         {¶1} Defendant Wilbur M. Stejskal (Defendant) appeals an amended judgment and sentence entered two years after the entry of his original judgment and sentence. By changing the word "concurrent" to the word "consecutive, " the amended judgment has the practical effect of increasing Defendant's term of incarceration from nine years to ten years. On appeal, Defendant asserts that, pursuant to Rule 5-801 NMRA and State v. Torres, 2012-NMCA-026, 272 P.3d 689, the district court lacked jurisdiction to amend or modify the original sentence. The State, on the other hand, argues that the amended judgment in this case did not involve a "modification of sentence" for purposes of Rule 5-801 and Torres; instead, the amended judgment merely corrected a clerical mistake as permitted by Rule 5-113(B) NMRA. We conclude that Rule 5-113 authorized the district court to enter the amended judgment and therefore affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         {¶2} Defendant's convictions are based upon a plea agreement. Pursuant to the terms of that agreement, Defendant pled no contest to two separate crimes, one of which would result in a nine-year sentence and the other of which would result in a three-year sentence with two years unconditionally suspended. The agreement recited that the sentences for both convictions would "run consecutively for a total of ten (10) years in the [d]epartment of [corrections."

         {¶3} At a plea hearing, the district court reviewed the terms of the plea agreement with Defendant on the record and accepted Defendant's plea. At various points during that hearing, the parties and court each acknowledged that the plea agreement called for a ten-year period of incarceration. At a subsequent sentencing hearing, the district court pronounced sentence, explaining that:

pursuant to the plea agreement on count one, you are hereby sentenced to nine years in the department of corrections [and on] count two, three years in the department of corrections with two years unconditionally suspended, running consecutively for a total of ten years in the department of corrections, [and] running concurrently with any time that you are currently facing on probation or parole.

         {¶4} Thus, based upon the record below, the parties and their counsel understood that the plea agreement called for consecutive sentences that would result in ten years of incarceration and also that Defendant was, in fact, being sentenced to a ten-year term of incarceration. Nonetheless, the written judgment and sentence that was then entered recited that the sentences for the two crimes would run concurrently, with the result that Defendant effectively was sentenced to nine years of incarceration.

         {¶5} Two years later, while reviewing Defendant's file, the district court noticed that the written judgment provided for the sentences to run concurrently instead of consecutively. The court scheduled a presentment hearing sua sponte. At that hearing, the court proposed to enter an amended judgment to correct the error. Counsel for Defendant argued that the district court was without jurisdiction to do so, relying upon Rule 5-801 (A) and Torres. The court, however, found that it had authority under Rule 5-113 to correct the error in the judgment, and accordingly, entered the amended judgment as proposed.

         DISCUSSION

         {¶6} Rule 5-801 was amended in 2014 by Supreme Court Order No. 14-8300-014, effective for all cases filed on or after December 31, 2014. The version in effect on March 28, 2013, when the case at bar was filed, provided in pertinent part as follows:

A. Correction of sentence. The court may correct an illegal sentence at any time pursuant to Rule 5-802 NMRA and may correct a sentence imposed in an illegal manner within the time provided ...

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