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Staunton v. State

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 7, 2015

MICHAEL JON STAUNTON, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF MINNESOTA and WARDEN MICHELLE SMITH, Respondents.

Michael Jon Staunton, Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater, Bayport, MN., pro se.

Gordon P. Coldagelli, Assistant County Attorney, ST. LOUIS COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Virginia, MN, for respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JOHN R. TUNHEIM, Chief District Judge.

Petitioner Michael Jon Staunton ("Staunton") filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on July 25, 2014. On August 28, 2014, United States Magistrate Judge Tony Leung issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), recommending the Court deny the habeas petition because it is untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Staunton filed objections to the R&R, along with two subsequent motions to expand the record. Because the Magistrate Judge correctly found that Staunton's habeas petition is untimely, the Court will adopt the R&R and deny Staunton's habeas petition. The Court will deny Staunton's two motions to expand the record as moot.

BACKGROUND

In January 2001, Staunton was found guilty by a St. Louis County, Minnesota jury for various offenses, including first-degree felony murder, in connection with the November 23, 1999 stabbing death of Darryl Kokochak. Staunton v. State, 842 N.W.2d 3, 4-5 (Minn. 2014) (" Staunton IV "). Staunton was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Id. at 5.

The subsequent procedural history of Staunton's case is "lengthy and convoluted." Id. Staunton filed a direct appeal in April 2001, which was stayed pending consideration of his first petition for postconviction relief. Id. In November 2002, Staunton sought permission to withdraw his first petition, which the court granted. Id. The supreme court then issued an order, in May 2003, "granting Staunton's motion to dismiss his direct appeal." Id.

Staunton then filed three more petitions for postconviction relief. His second petition, filed in July 2003, was resolved without a decision as to the petition's merits. Id. His third petition, filed in April 2007, was denied by the postconviction court following an evidentiary hearing. Id. The supreme court considered his petition on the merits, and, in a June 30, 2010 decision, affirmed Staunton's conviction. Staunton v. State, 784 N.W.2d 289, 296-303 (Minn. 2010) (" Staunton III "). The court rejected Staunton's arguments that the state presented insufficient evidence at trial to support his conviction, and that his trial counsel was ineffective. Id. at 297-303.

Staunton filed a fourth petition in June 2012. Staunton IV, 842 N.W.2d at 6. In a January 22, 2014 decision, the supreme court affirmed the trial court's decision to deny Staunton's fourth petition as time-barred under Minnesota Statute § 590.01, subd. 4(a) ("No petition for postconviction relief may be filed more than two years after... an appellate court's disposition of petitioner's direct appeal."). Staunton IV, 842 N.W.2d at 5, 9-10. The supreme court concluded that it had disposed of Staunton's direct appeal in May 2003, when it had granted his motion to dismiss his direct appeal. Id. at 7 ("It is undisputed that Staunton's direct appeal was dismissed in May 2003."). As a result, Staunton's fourth petition was filed well beyond his deadline of July 31, 2007. Id. at 6, 9-10 (noting that Staunton's deadline was July 31, 2007, because his conviction became final before the effective date of the 2005 amendments to Minnesota Statute § 590.01).

Staunton filed his habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on July 25, 2014 (Pet. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2244 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody ("Habeas Petition"), July 25, 2014, Docket No. 1.) Neither the State of Minnesota nor the St. Louis County Attorney's Office filed a response. The Magistrate Judge issued an R&R, recommending the Court deny Staunton's habeas petition and dismiss his case with prejudice. (R&R at 6-7, Aug. 28, 2014, Docket No. 5.) The R&R reasoned that Staunton's habeas petition falls outside the one-year statute of limitations found in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). The R&R also recommended against issuing a Certificate of Appealability.

Staunton filed timely objections to the R&R. (Objections to R&R ("Objections"), Sept. 29, 2014, Docket No. 8.) He also filed two motions to expand the record. (Mot. to Expand the Record ("First Mot."), Dec. 19, 2014, Docket No. 9; Mot. for Expansion of the Record ("Second Mot."), Apr. 17, 2015, Docket No. 13.)

DISCUSSION

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Upon the filing of a report and recommendation by a magistrate judge, a party may "serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(1). "The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate ...


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