United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Eric Dean Krieger, Bayport, MN, pro se.
Tara C. F. Lopez, Assistant County Attorney, MILLE LACS COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Milaca, MN, for respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
JOHN R. TUNHEIM, District Judge.
Eric Dean Krieger filed a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 asserting ten grounds for post-conviction relief. United States Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer issued two Report and Recommendations ("R&Rs") on Krieger's petition on August 5, 2014 ("August R&R") and September 5, 2014 ("September R&R"). (Docket Nos. 26, 31.) In the August R&R, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court deny Krieger's application for habeas relief. Krieger objected to the August R&R and filed a motion to stay the habeas corpus petition in order to return to state court. In the September R&R, the Magistrate Judge recommended denial of this motion to stay. This matter is before the Court on Krieger's objections to both R&Rs. Because Krieger failed to present any of the ten grounds asserted before this Court to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the time to do so has now elapsed, these grounds are procedurally defaulted. Therefore, the Court will adopt the August R&R, overrule Krieger's objections, and dismiss Krieger's § 2254 petition with prejudice. Additionally, because Krieger cannot overcome the procedural default of his claims, the Court will adopt the September R&R, overrule Krieger's objections, and dismiss Krieger's motion to stay these proceedings.
I. STATE COURT PROCEEDINGS
In November 2009, a jury in Mille Lacs County District Court convicted Krieger of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(b), and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.343, subd. 1(b), for sexual conduct related to a 13-year-old victim. State v. Krieger, A10-1271, 2011 WL 1642525 at *1 (Minn.Ct.App. May 3, 2011). Krieger appealed the conviction to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in May 2011, arguing that (1) the Mille Lacs County District Court abused its discretion in excluding the victim's child protection file on the grounds that the information within it was not material and favorable to the defense; (2) a new trial was necessary because the state, on two occasions, impermissibly implied that Krieger had previously abused the victim; and (3) the state trial court abused its discretion first, by imposing an upward departure sentence without articulating substantial and compelling reasons in the sentencing order, and second, by imposing a sentence in excess of the statutory maximum sentence length of 360 months for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Id. Krieger additionally argued that (1) his confession was coerced by police, (2) hearsay and testimonial statements were improperly admitted into evidence against him, (3) he did not receive the benefit of effective assistance of trial counsel, (4) the State of Minnesota failed to timely notify him of its intent to seek an aggravated sentence, (5) prosecutorial misconduct tainted the jury's deliberation, (6) the state trial court's sentence was irregular, (7) insufficient evidence was presented at trial to support his conviction, (8) the mischaracterizing and sealing evidence in the victim's 2003 child-protection file amounted to judicial misconduct, (9) a new trial was warranted based on newly discovered evidence, and (10) the cumulative effect of trial errors undermined his constitutional right to a fair trial. Id. at *5-8.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected most of Krieger's arguments finding that: (1) the exclusion of relevant information in the victim's child-protection file was harmless error, (2) the State's reference to a previous sexual assault examination of the 13-year-old victim did not implicate Krieger, and (3) the emotional and psychological injury endured by the victim supported an upward durational departure. Id. at *1-4. However, the court reduced Krieger's sentence to 360 months because the state trial court's 520 month sentence exceeded the statutory maximum. Id. at *1. Finally, the Court of Appeals found that each of Krieger's remaining pro se arguments were without merit. Id. at *5-8.
Krieger filed a petition for discretionary appeal in the Minnesota Supreme Court raising two issues: (1) whether the state trial court erred in denying a motion to unseal evidence of prior sexual penetration of the victim, and (2) whether the durational departure sentence was supported by substantial and compelling reasons. (Mem. in Opp'n to Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus, App. 2 (Pet. for Review of Decision of Ct. of Appeals ("Supreme Ct. Minn. Appeal")), at 2-3, Oct. 18, 2013, Docket No. 17-2.) Krieger's appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court did not include any of the pro se arguments submitted to the Court of Appeals. Id. On July 19, 2011, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected Krieger's petition. ( Id. at 99.)
In August 2012, Krieger sought post-conviction relief in state court, arguing once again that: (1) evidence of prior sexual abuse of the victim was improperly sealed and excluded, (2) the durational departure was improper, (3) his confession was coerced, (4) insufficient evidence was presented to support a conviction, (5) the representation amounted to ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, and (6) the cumulative effect of trial errors warranted a new trial. Krieger v. State, No. A12-1897, 2013 WL 2149985, at *1 (Minn.Ct.App. May 20, 2013). Additionally, Krieger argued, for the first time, that the jury instructions encouraged his punishment based on prior bad acts. Id. The state trial court denied the petition pursuant to the exhaustion rule established in State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737 (1976), and codified in Minnesota Statute section 590.01. Id. The Knaffla rule establishes that in a petition for post-conviction relief, appellate courts can decline to review claims that were not raised but could have been raised on direct appeal. Berkovitz v. State, 826 N.W.2d 203, 209 (Minn. 2013) (citing Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d at 741). Krieger appealed the state trial court's denial of post-conviction relief, raising seven issues. Krieger, 2013 WL 2149985, at *1. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding first that the three issues not raised in Krieger's petition for post-conviction relief, but brought to the appellate court, were waived. Id. at *2. An appellate court "generally will not decide issues which were not raised before the district court[.]" Id. (quoting Roby v. State, 547 N.W.2d 354, 357 (Minn. 1996)). The Court of Appeals concluded that that the additional claims in Krieger's appeal of his denial for postconviction relief were procedurally defaulted under the Knaffla rule. Id. Under the Knaffla rule, an appeals court may "decline to review claims that were not raised, or could have been raised, on direct appeal." Id. (citing Berkovitz v. State, 826 N.W.2d 203, 209 (Minn.2013)).
II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In July 2013, Krieger filed this action in federal court, seeking habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and asserting ten grounds for relief. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Habeas Pet."), July 19, 2013, Docket No. 1.) First, Krieger claims violations of the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments because his confession was allegedly coerced. (Habeas Pet. at 5; Mem. Supp. Pet., at 15, July 19, 2013, Docket No. 8.) Second, Krieger claims a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights and due process because the state trial court allegedly admitted impermissible hearsay and testimonial statements. (Habeas Pet. at 7-8.) Third, Krieger asserts ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. ( Id. at 8-9.) Fourth, Krieger alleges prosecutorial misconduct in violation of the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. ( Id. at 10-12; Mem. Supp. Pet. at 34-35.) Fifth, Krieger argues that his sentence was unconstitutional. (Habeas Pet. at 12.) Sixth, Krieger asserts the evidence introduced against him at trial was insufficient to support a conviction. ( Id. at 13.) Seventh, Krieger challenges the use of a "plain error" instruction in violation of his right to a fair trial. ( Id. at 15.) Eighth, Krieger alleges judicial misconduct pointing to six trial errors including the trial court's sealing of evidence in the victim's child-protection file. ( Id. at 16.) Ninth, Krieger asserts his innocence. ( Id. at 18.) Tenth, and finally, Krieger argues that the cumulative effect of errors throughout his trial prejudiced his defense. ( Id. at 19.)
On August 5, 2014, the Magistrate Judge issued an R&R recommending the denial of Krieger's petition for habeas relief on all ten grounds asserted and dismissing this action with prejudice. (August R&R at 9-23) The Magistrate Judge concluded all of the claims raised in Krieger's habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 were procedurally defaulted under the Knaffla rule. ( Id. ) Krieger filed objections to this R&R. (Objections to R&R ("August Objections"), Aug. 20, 2014, Docket No. 27.) Krieger then filed a motion to stay his habeas petition to allow the state court to complete exhaustion of all the unexhausted claims described in the R&R. (Mot. to Stay, ¶¶ 1-2, Aug. 20, 2014, Docket No. 28.) The Magistrate Judge issued an R&R recommending denial of this motion because stay and abeyance procedures are not available for procedurally defaulted claims. (September R&R.) Krieger filed objections to this second R&R as well. (Objections to R&R ("September Objections"), Sept. 15, 2014, Docket No. 32.)
I. STANDARD OF ...