Skip navigation
CLN bookstore
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

North Dakota Supreme Court Reinstates Postconviction Relief Application Dismissed Without Notice of Motion for Summary Disposition

by Matt Clarke  

The Supreme Court of North Dakota held that a district court erred when it dismissed a prisoner’s application for postconviction relief after the State filed its answer “but was not put on notice that the State had effectively motioned for summary disposition” of the application. 

North Dakota state prisoner Joshua James Ourada filed an application for postconviction relief in state district court. The State filed an answer stating that all of Ourada’s issues were non-jurisdictional defects and therefore waived when he entered a voluntary guilty plea. The answer included a request for summary disposition citing N.D.C.C. § 29-32.01-09(3). The court summarily dismissed the application 12 days later without a response from Ourada. 

With the assistance of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, attorney Samuel Gereszek, Ourada appealed. The North Dakota Supreme Court noted that postconviction proceedings are civil in nature and thus regulated by the statutes and rules governing civil procedures. Therefore, under N.D.C.C. § 29-32.1-09(1), the district court could have dismissed the application as meritless on its own motion before the State filed an answer. However, once the State filed an answer, § 29-32.1-09(1) no longer applied.

The district court treated the State’s answer as a motion for summary disposition pursuant to N.D.C.C. § 29-32.1-09(3), just as the State had requested. Such motions are governed by N.D.R.Ct. 3.2, which requires that notice be served with the motion, and the notice must provide the time of oral argument or that the motion will be decided on the briefs unless oral argument is requested. 

The Supreme Court stated that, in this case, Ourada received the State’s answer but was not put on notice that the State had effectively filed a motion for summary disposition. The Court explained that, “[d]ue process, even in the post-conviction setting, requires notice and an opportunity to be heard.” The Court ruled that, because the application for postconviction relief was summarily dismissed subsequent to the State’s answer being filed and without proper notice, the summary dismissal was inappropriate. 

Accordingly, the Court reversed the order summarily dismissing the application for postconviction relief and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. See: Ourada v. State, 921 N.W.2d 677 (N.D. 2019). 

As a digital subscriber to Criminal Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Ourada v. State



Stop Prison Profiteering Campaign Ad 2
Advertise here
Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual - Side