United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Harry Jerome Evans, MCF-Stillwater, Pickett Street North, Bayport, Minnesota pro se.
Matthew Frank, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, Saint Paul, Minnesota; Peter R. Marker and Thomas R. Ragatz, Ramsey County Attorney's Office, Minnesota 55102, on behalf of Respondents.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Harry Jerome Evans' Motion for Relief from Judgment [Doc. No. 44] and Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs [Doc. No. 45]. For the reasons stated below, Petitioner's motion is denied and his IFP application is denied as moot.
In 2006, a jury found Evans guilty of first-degree murder of a peace officer, in violation of Minnesota Statute § 609.185(a)(4). State v. Evans , 756 N.W.2d 854, 862 (Minn. 2008) (hereinafter "Evans I"). The court sentenced Evans to life in prison without the possibility of release. Id . On direct appeal in 2008, the Minnesota Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court to further develop the record on a juror bias claim. Id. at 862-64. After further development of the record, Evans raised several issues on appeal, some of which were presented by appellate counsel and some of which Evans raised in a pro se supplemental brief. Id. at 862. Among his pro se arguments, Evans argued that he was denied effective assistance of trial counsel because counsel failed to object to the admission in evidence of certain statements made by a police officer during an interview with Evans. Id. at 880, n.32. Because the court found that the admission of the statements was not error, it likewise held that Evans was not denied effective assistance of counsel. Id . Upon reviewing all of his claims, the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed Evans' conviction. Id. at 881.
In August 2009, Evans filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief in Ramsey County District Court, raising claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and various trial court errors. Evans v. State , 788 N.W.2d 38; 41; 43 (Minn. 2010) (hereinafter "Evans II"). After the post-conviction district court denied his petition, Evans appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Id.
In his post-conviction appeal, Evans raised claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, among other claims. Id. at 43. Specifically, he asserted that his trial counsel was ineffective for: agreeing to the use of a subpoena cover letter sent to prospective Schwartz hearing witnesses; failing to object to an alleged Miranda violation; failing to object to an unlawful search warrant; failing to object to the alleged violation of his Fourth Amendment rights; and failing to challenge jurisdiction. Id . Evans did not previously raise these bases for ineffective assistance of trial counsel in his direct appeal. Cf. id. with Evans I , 756 N.W.2d 854, 880 n.32. On Evans' post-conviction appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court found that Evans' ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims were barred by State v. Knaffla , 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976), which, upon a subsequent petition for relief, bars the assertion of all claims that could have been raised upon direct appeal. Evans II , 788 N.W.2d at 44. The court explained that because all of Evans' claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel were based on the trial record, he either knew or should have known of the claims at the time of his direct appeal. Id . Moreover, the court found that the two exceptions to Knaffla did not apply, i.e., the court determined that none of Evans' ineffective assistance claims were so novel that their legal basis was not determinable at the time of direct appeal and no claim of fairness required consideration of the claims. Id.
In addition to arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective, Evans also argued that his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to pursue claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Id. at 45. The Minnesota Supreme Court observed that when a petitioner asserts a claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel based on appellate counsel's failure to raise an ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim, the petitioner must first demonstrate that trial counsel was ineffective. Id . (citing Fields v. State , 733 N.W.2d 465, 468 (Minn. 2007)). Although the court had concluded that Evans' ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims were procedurally barred, the court nonetheless analyzed the record regarding the effectiveness of trial counsel in order to resolve Evans' claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. Id . After thoroughly reviewing Evans' assertions of ineffective assistance of trial counsel against the record, the court found that Evans failed to establish that his trial counsel was ineffective. Id. at 47. Accordingly, the court found that appellate counsel did not provide ineffective inassistence. Id . (citing Williams v. State , 764 N.W.2d 21, 31-32 (Minn. 2009)).
On September 24, 2010, Petitioner commenced his habeas proceeding in federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging eleven claims, including ineffective assistance of counsel. (See Order of 9/19/12 at 3 [Doc. No. 30]) (citing Petition [Doc. No. 1].) Evans asserted in his habeas petition that his trial attorney failed to challenge evidence and had conceded that his office was understaffed and could not handle its caseload. (Petition at 5 [Doc. No. 1].) The magistrate judge construed Evans' Petition to assert claims of ineffective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel. (R&R at 1, n.1 [Doc. No. 27].) As to Evans' trial counsel claims, the magistrate judge found them procedurally barred by Knaffla because Evans could have raised them on direct appeal. ( Id. at 20-21.) As to Evans' claims concerning ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, the magistrate judge reviewed the Minnesota Supreme Court's merits analysis of appellate counsel in Evans II, and found that that court's conclusion was, consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), neither contrary to, nor an unreasonable application of federal law. ( Id. at 18.) Finding Evans' ineffective assistance claims meritless, the magistrate judge recommended that they be dismissed with prejudice. (Order of 9/19/12 at 3 [Doc. No. 30].)
Evans filed Objections to the R&R, contesting the magistrate judge's resolution of the following claims: (1) denial of a fair trial due to juror bias; (2) prosecutorial misconduct; (3) ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel; and (4) the denial of a Certificate of Appealability. (Objections [Doc. No. 28].) In this Court's Order of September 19, 2012, the Court found that the magistrate judge had correctly determined that Evans' ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim was barred by Knaffla. (Order of 9/19/12 at 11 [Doc. No. 30].) The Court likewise rejected Evans' claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, agreeing that the Minnesota Supreme Court's resolution of this claim was neither contrary to, nor an unreasonable application of federal law. ( Id. at 12-13.) Accordingly, this Court adopted the recommendations of the magistrate judge, dismissed the habeas corpus petition with prejudice, and denied Petitioner a certificate of appealability. ( Id. at 14-15.)
In October 2012, Evans appealed this Court's decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reviewed this Court's file and, on May 24, 2013, denied Evans' application for a certificate of appealability. (Judgment [Doc. No. 39].) The Eighth Circuit therefore dismissed his appeal (id.), and subsequently denied Evans' petition for rehearing en banc. (8th Cir. Order of 7/17/13 [Doc. No. 40].) On October 15, 2013, Evans filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on January 30, 2014 [Doc. No. 43]. On May 5, 2014, Evans filed the instant Motion for Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) [Doc. No. 44]. Petitioner requests that this court re-open his § 2254 habeas action and award relief.
Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2244, the following requirements apply to second or successive habeas applications: (1) any claim previously adjudicated in a previous petition must be dismissed; (2) any claim that has not been adjudicated must be dismissed unless it relies upon a new or retroactive rule of constitutional law or facts showing a high likelihood of actual innocence; and (3) before the district court accepts a successive petition for filing, the court of appeals must determine that it raises a claim not previously presented sufficient to meet ...