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Moua v. State

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 20, 2014

POR MOUA, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF MINNESOTA, Respondent.

Por Moua, No. 003135, Sherburne County Jail, 13880 Business Center Drive Northwest, Elk River, MN 55330, pro se.

Matthew Frank and James B. Early, Assistant Attorneys General, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1800, St. Paul, MN 55101; and Peter R. Marker, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, RAMSEY COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, 50 Kellogg Boulevard West, Suite 315, Saint Paul, MN 55102, for defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JOHN R. TUNHEIM, District Judge.

On June 17, 2013, Petitioner Por Moua filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus arguing that his state convictions for assault are invalid because (1) he did not understand English at the time of his trial; (2) the trial court violated his right to a speedy trial; (3) he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel; and (4) the prosecutors engaged in misconduct by using evidence of his past convictions for impeachment at his trial. The State of Minnesota ("the Government") filed a motion to dismiss Moua's petition, arguing that all of Moua's claims have been procedurally defaulted. On December 12, 2013, United States Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") recommending that the Court grant the Government's motion to dismiss Moua's petition in its entirety. Within the time period for filing objections to the R&R, Moua filed several documents that reiterate the factual basis for certain of his claims. Twenty days after the deadline for filing objections had passed, Moua filed an additional document that contains references to portions of the R&R. After a careful review of each of these documents, the Court concludes that Moua has failed to make "specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations" of the Magistrate Judge. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2) (emphasis added). Because the Court finds no clear error or manifest injustice in the R&R, the Court will adopt the R&R in its entirety and deny Moua's petition.

BACKGROUND[1]

A jury found Moua guilty of first-degree, third-degree, and felony domestic assault after an incident in 2010 during which Moua bit his former girlfriend on the face. State v. Moua, No. A11-944, 2012 WL 2505744, at *1 (Minn.Ct.App. July 2, 2012). Moua was sentenced to 175 months imprisonment for his first-degree assault conviction. Id.

On direct appeal, Moua challenged his conviction arguing that (1) the district court erred by failing to suppress a custodial statement because Moua's waiver of his Fifth Amendment rights was not knowing, intelligent, or voluntary; (2) the guilty verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence; and (3) the district court abused its discretion by allowing the government to use three of Moua's prior convictions for impeachment at trial. Id. The court of appeals rejected each of Moua's arguments and affirmed his conviction. Id. at *2-*7. The court also rejected several issues raised in Moua's pro se supplemental brief, finding that the issues raised therein had been forfeited because "Moua fails to brief the issues adequately or provide any legal authority in support of his arguments, and prejudicial error is not obvious on mere inspection." Id. at *7. The Minnesota Supreme Court denied review on September 25, 2012. (App. to Resp't's Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 8 at 74, Aug. 23, 2013, Docket No. 10.)

On June 17, 2013, Moua filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus, June 17, 2013, Docket No. 1.) In his petition Moua argues that his convictions are invalid because he did not understand English during the course of his criminal proceedings, the trial court violated his right to a speedy trial, and he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. ( See id. at 6-14.) The Government filed a motion to dismiss arguing that each of the claims raised was procedurally defaulted. ( See Mot. to Dismiss, Aug. 23, 2013, Docket No. 7; Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss, Aug. 23, 2013, Docket No. 8.)

Between September 6, 2013, and October 7, 2013, Moua filed thirteen documents with the Court, which reiterated and elaborated upon the bases for his habeas petition. ( See, e.g., Ineffective Assistance Claim, Oct. 7, 2013, Docket No. 19; New Twist on Miranda, Oct. 7, 2013, Docket No. 20.) The Magistrate Judge construed one of these submissions as a motion for appointment of counsel, and denied the motion. (Order, Oct. 17, 2013, Docket No. 28.) In that October 17 order, the Magistrate Judge also indicated that he would "treat all of Moua's submissions to date as a reply" to the Government's motion to dismiss, but warned that "any further submissions will NOT be considered, and will only delay the resolution of Moua's Petition." ( Id. at 2.)

On December 12, 2013, the Magistrate Judge issued an R&R recommending that the Court grant the Government's motion to dismiss. (R&R, Dec. 12, 2013, Docket No. 30.) The Magistrate Judge began by explaining that a federal district court may only consider issues raised in a state prisoner's application for a writ of habeas corpus if the petitioner has exhausted his state court remedies by fairly presenting those claims to the highest available state court before seeking relief in federal court. ( Id. at 11-12.) Failure to present habeas claims to a state court renders the claims procedurally defaulted, and a federal court will consider them only if a petitioner can show cause for his failure to exhaust and prejudice resulting therefrom. ( Id. at 12.)

Turning to Moua's specific claims, the Magistrate Judge listed the numerous bases for Moua's ineffective assistance of counsel, violation of his right to a speedy trial, and English as a second language claims that he had raised in his petition as well as the thirteen additional documents that were filed prior to issuance of the R&R. ( Id. at 13-14, 16, 18-19.) The Magistrate Judge also considered a prosecutorial misconduct claim, which Moua did not raise in his original petition, but raised in a later filing. ( Id. at 17.) The Magistrate Judge found that all of these claims were unexhausted because Moua had failed to properly raise the arguments before the Minnesota Court of Appeals or raise the issues at all to the Minnesota Supreme Court in his petition for review. ( Id. at 15-19.) Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge concluded that federal habeas review of each of these claims was procedurally barred because Moua could have, but failed to, present these issues at the time of his direct appeal. ( Id. at 15, 17-18, 20.) The Magistrate Judge also found that Moua had not demonstrated cause for his failure to raise the issues or actual prejudice resulting therefrom, and therefore had not established an exception to the procedural bar. ( Id. at 20-21.) Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Government's motion to dismiss be granted, and Moua's petition be denied. ( Id. at 22.)

Objections to the R&R were due on January 3, 2014. (R&R at 22.) On January 2, 2014, Moua filed six documents which relate generally to the factual basis for the claims in his original petition. ( See Docket Nos. 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37.)[2] On January 23, 2014, Moua filed an additional document that specifically discusses the R&R. (Prosecutorial's Mem. Notice Mot. for Resp't, Jan. 23, 2014, Docket No. 38.)

ANALYSIS

I. STANDARD OF ...


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