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Maxwell v. Gau

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 8, 2014

Larry D. Maxwell, Petitioner,
Collin Gau, Warden, Respondent.

Larry D. Maxwell, pro se.

Linda Kay Jenny, Esq., Hennepin County Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN; Matthew Frank, Esq., and Jennifer R. Coates, Esq., Minnesota Attorney General's Office, St. Paul, MN, for Respondent.


ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.


This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for a ruling on Larry D. Maxwell's Objection [Docket No. 19][1] to Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung's November 8, 2013 Report and Recommendation [Docket No. 15] ("R&R"). In his R&R, Judge Leung recommended denying Maxwell's Writ of Habeas Corpus Petition [Docket No. 1] ("Petition") and dismissing the case summarily. After a thorough de novo review of the record and for the reasons stated below, Maxwell's objections are overruled and Judge Leung's R&R is adopted.


The factual and procedural history of this dispute is more fully recited in Judge Leung's R&R and is incorporated here by reference. In summary, Maxwell was a real estate agent who helped arrange fraudulent real estate transactions between 2005 and 2007. See State v. Maxwell, No. A09-2018, 2011 WL 1544505, at *1 (Minn.Ct.App. Apr. 26, 2011). Maxwell worked with others, including Trent Bowman, to procure and use fake identity documents to obtain financing for the fraudulent purchase of four properties. R&R at 2.

After the fraudulent real estate transactions were discovered, Maxwell was charged with multiple criminal offenses. On April 23, 2009, after a month-long trial, a jury convicted Maxwell on eighteen counts, finding Maxwell guilty of one count of racketeering, two counts of identity theft, nine counts of theft-by-swindle, and six counts of aggravated forgery. Maxwell, 2011 WL 1544505, at *1. He was sentenced to 198 months in prison. Id.

Maxwell filed a direct appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Maxwell's appellate counsel presented several arguments addressing the admission of certain evidence, the exclusion of other evidence, jury instructions, the sufficiency of evidence, and challenging the sentence imposed. Maxwell filed a pro se supplemental brief that raised additional arguments. The Minnesota Court of Appeals considered and rejected all of Maxwell's claims on the merits and affirmed his conviction. See Maxwell, 2011 WL 1544505, at *24. The Minnesota Supreme Court summarily denied further review. On July 23, 2012, Maxwell filed this Petition in federal court.

In a thirty-one page report and recommendation, Judge Leung found three of Maxwell's habeas corpus claims-Grounds 1, 2, and 5-were not presented to the Minnesota Supreme Court and therefore are barred by the doctrine of procedural default. Judge Leung carefully analyzed Maxwell's remaining claims-Grounds 3, 4A, and 4B. When a federal court reviews a state decision, the federal district court is not allowed to conduct its own de novo review of a petitioner's constitutional claims. Respecting this level of review, Judge Leung found Maxwell had not presented evidence that the "state court's ruling on the claim[s] being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement." R&R at 15 (citing Harrington v. Richter , 131 S.Ct. 770, 787 (2011)). Therefore, Judge Leung recommends the Court find Maxwell is not entitled to a writ of habeas corpus.

Maxwell objects to Judge Leung's recommendation on all grounds. In addition, Maxwell claims Judge Leung acknowledged that his state appellate counsel was ineffective, and therefore, ineffective assistance of counsel should be added to his grounds for relief. Finally, Maxwell raises for the first time evidence he argues is proof of his innocence.


A. Standard of Review

In reviewing a magistrate judge's recommendation, the district court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see also D. Minn. L.R. 72.2(b). A district judge "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." Id.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, federal court habeas review of state court criminal convictions resulting ...

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