A Green River man who said he was given bad advice by an attorney cannot appeal his sentence on an escape charge after giving up his right to an appeal earlier, Wyoming’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The court upheld the sentence of Matthew Harl Majhanovich on allegations he drove away from a police officer during a traffic stop, saying Majhanovich had the opportunity to appeal his sentence once, but then discarded it.
“Mr. Majhanovich’s claim that his sentence is illegal because the facts do not support his guilty plea is barred …” said the opinion, written by Justice Keith Kautz.
According to the ruling, Majhanovich was pulled over while driving in Rock Springs in December 2016 because an active arrest warrant was in effect.
Majhanovich asked the police officer if he could call his father to pick up the dog that was in his pickup truck. The officer allowed him to make the call from inside of his pickup truck and, according to the opinion, while Majhanovich was on the phone, he put the truck in gear, drove over a curb to an adjacent street and sped away from the officer.
Majhanovich was arrested nine days later and he was charged, with, among other things, escape from official detention.
Majhanovich pleaded guilty to the charge as part of a plea bargain and was sentence to two to three years in prison.
Majhanovich filed an appeal of his sentence with the Wyoming Supreme Court, but then withdrew it, saying he waived his right to an appeal.
In March 2020, Majhanovich raised a claim that the sentence was illegal and appealed it. A district court rejected the claim, noting Majhanovich had already waived his right to appeal the issue.
Majhanovich said there was insufficient evidence to support a charge of escape and that he believed he should have followed through with his appeal. However, he said his attorney advised him to drop the appeal.
“In other words, he claims he did not adequately understand his potential claim that his sentence was illegal, even though he had an attorney,” the opinion said.
Justices unanimously upheld the lower court’s decision.