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Samuelson v. Roy

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 7, 2014

TOM ROY, Minn. Commissioner of Corrections, Respondent.

Steven Scott Samuelson, Minnesota Correctional Facility - Faribault, 1101 Linden Lane, Faribault, Minnesota, 55021, Petitioner, pro se.

Todd S. Webb Assistant Itasca County Attorney, 123 NE Fourth Street, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, 55744, for Respondent.


LEO I. BRISBOIS, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the undersigned Magistrate Judge of the District Court on the petition of Steven Scott Samuelson, ("Petitioner"), for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Docket No. 1.) Respondent has filed a response, (Docket Nos. 8-15), contending that the petition should be dismissed, and Petitioner has filed a Reply Memorandum with supporting materials, (Docket Nos. 16-20). The case has been referred to this Court for report and recommendation under 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.1. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will recommend that Petitioner's habeas corpus petition be DENIED, and that this action be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


In November 2009, Petitioner was charged with assaulting his girlfriend, who is referred to in the record as "JLB." At Petitioner's first court appearance in that matter, the state trial court judge entered a "Domestic-Abuse No Contact Order, " or "DANCO, " pursuant to Minn.Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 22.[1] The judge explained to Petitioner that the DANCO prohibited him from having any contact with JLB, and he asked Petitioner whether he understood the DANCO restrictions. Petitioner said that he did understand the DANCO. During the course of the next six weeks, however, Petitioner violated the DANCO numerous times while he was being detained at the Itasca County Jail. As a result, new charges were filed against Petitioner for violating the DANCO.

A jury found Petitioner guilty of more than 30 DANCO violations, and he was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of five years and five days. Petitioner is presently serving his sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault, Minnesota.

After Petitioner was convicted and sentenced, he filed a direct appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals. On appeal, Petitioner argued, inter alia, that (1) the DANCO statute that he was convicted of violating is unconstitutionally vague, and (2) a DANCO order violates the constitutional "right to privacy" if the person to be protected by the order (in this case JLB) opposes the order and avers that there are no valid grounds for it. The Minnesota Court of Appeals summarily rejected both of those arguments, because they had not been presented to the trial court, and thus they had not been properly preserved for appeal. Addressing the "void for vagueness" claim, the Court of Appeals explained:

"We decline to address this issue on the merits. This is primarily because [Petitioner] did not raise it to the district court, which precludes appellate review because a challenge to the constitutionality of a criminal statute may not be raised for the first time on appeal. State v. Williams , 794 N.W.2d 867, 874 (Minn.2011); State v. Kager , 357 N.W.2d 369, 370 (Minn.App.1984) (declining to rule on the constitutionality of a statute when the issue was not raised or ruled upon by the district court)."

State v. Samuelson, No. A11-326 (Minn.App. 2012), (unpublished opinion), 2012 WL 2873838 at * 2, (emphasis added), rev. denied, Nov. 20, 2012.

The Court of Appeals likewise declined to address Petitioner's "right to privacy" claim, holding that "it is another issue that was not raised to or ruled on by the district court." Id.[2]

All of the other arguments that Petitioner raised in his direct appeal were rejected on the merits, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals ultimately affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence. Id. at *5. The Minnesota Supreme Court summarily denied Petitioner's application for further for review on November 20, 2012, and the United States Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari on June 17, 2013. Samuelson v. Minnesota , 133 S.Ct. 2833 (2013).

Petitioner's current habeas corpus petition was filed on November 5, 2013.[3] The petition lists only a single ground for relief, which appears to be the same "void for vagueness" claim that Petitioner attempted to bring in his direct appeal. (Petition, p. 5.) However, Respondent has suggested that Petitioner might also be attempting to raise the "right to privacy" claim that he raised on direct appeal. Petitioner has not objected to this characterization of his petition, and the Court finds it to be reasonable.[4] Therefore, even though the petition, on its face, appears to present only one ground for relief, the Court will assume that Petitioner is seeking habeas review of two of the claims raised in his direct appeal - (1) the "void for vagueness" claim, and (2) the "right to privacy" claim.

Respondent contends that neither of the claims presented in the current habeas corpus petition can be entertained and decided on the merits, because both of those claims have ...

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