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Coppage v. Hammer

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

July 29, 2013

STEVE HAMMER, Respondent.


ARTHUR J. BOYLAN, Chief Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge on Petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The case has been referred to this Court for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.1. For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that Petitioner's habeas corpus petition is barred by the statute of limitations prescribed by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The Court will therefore recommend that this action be summarily dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.[1]


Petitioner is an inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Rush City, Minnesota. He is currently serving a 180-month prison sentence, which was imposed by the state district court for Hennepin County, Minnesota, in October 2005. (Petition, [Docket No. 1], p. 1, §§ 1-3.)

Petitioner was sentenced after entering an "Alford guilty plea[2]" to charges of first-degree attempted murder. Following that plea, other charges against Petitioner were dismissed, and he was given "a stayed sentence of 180 months and five years' probation, with conditions including 365 days in the workhouse." Coppage v. State, No. A08-1842 (Minn.App. 2009), 2009 WL 2591639 (unpublished opinion) at *1, rev. denied, Nov. 17, 2009.

In July 2006, the state sought to have Petitioner's probation revoked. After Petitioner admitted that he had violated the terms of his probation, he was sentenced to an additional year in the workhouse. Id . In August 2007, the state again sought to have Petitioner's probation revoked based on allegations of further criminal conduct. A second probation-revocation hearing was held, and at the conclusion of the hearing Petitioner's "probation was revoked and the remaining time on his 180-month sentence was executed." Id.

On May 15, 2008, Petitioner filed a post-conviction motion in the state trial court, seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, because the trial court allegedly had "improperly injected itself into the plea negotiations." Id . The post-conviction motion was denied, and Petitioner appealed. The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's ruling. Id. at *3 ("[h]aving carefully reviewed the entire record, we cannot conclude that the postconviction court abused its discretion by finding that the district court did not improperly inject itself into plea negotiations and deny [Petitioner's] request to withdraw his guilty plea"). The Minnesota Supreme Court denied Petitioner's subsequent application for further review.

After Petitioner's first post-conviction motion was denied, he filed three more postconvictions, which the Minnesota Court of Appeals has described as follows:

"In 2010, [Petitioner] filed his second postconviction petition, arguing that he could not be convicted of an intentional crime because a drive-by shooting is a crime of recklessness. That petition was also denied by the district court as Knaffla-barred because the petitioner could have raised the argument in his prior petition but did not do so. See State v. Knaffla , 309 Minn. 246, 252, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976) (concluding that claims not previously raised but that were available to the petitioner are not to be considered). Not deterred, [Petitioner] filed his third postconviction petition in 2011, this time alleging that he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel for failing to raise the arguments he raised in his second postconviction petition. That petition was also denied as Knaffla-barred and as time-barred under the two-year statutory time limit provided by Minn.Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4 (2010).... [I]n his fourth petition, [Petitioner]... raised essentially the same arguments that he raised in his previous petitions."

Coppage v. State, No. A12-1384 (Minn.App. 2013), 2013 WL 1188012 (unpublished opinion) at *1. The state trial court summarily denied Petitioner's most recent postconviction motion, (his fourth such motion), and he then filed another appeal. Id . The Minnesota Court of Appeals found that the claims presented in Petitioner's latest postconviction motion were procedurally barred, because (a) Petitioner failed to raise them in his initial post-conviction motion, and (b) the claims were not presented within the two-year limitation period prescribed by Minnesota law. Id. at *2. The Minnesota Supreme Court denied Petitioner's request for further review on June 18, 2013.

Petitioner's current federal habeas corpus petition was filed on July 16, 2013. The petition presents two grounds for relief, both challenging the validity of the Alford guilty plea that Petitioner entered back in October 2005. Petitioner has summarized his two habeas corpus claims as follows:

(1) "Violation of Fourteenth Amendment right to Due Process Clause. Petitioner was not aware of the constitutional rights he waived by pleading guilty, and was not ask [sic] to testify at the plea hearing to establish intent or any factual basis for the plea."
(2) "The plea is invalid, because intent was not known to petitioner at the time of plea. Petitioner never testified that he intended or had the intent to kill the victim. And in fact was not explained to him that it was a critical element of his ...

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