United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Gustafson, pro se.
Michael Richardson, Assistant County Attorney,, HENNEPIN
COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, for respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
R. TUNHEIM Chief Judge
2012, Petitioner Joseph Gustafson was found guilty by a jury
in Minnesota state court of (1) racketeering, (2) aiding and
abetting kidnapping, (3) aiding and abetting second-degree
assault, and aiding and abetting first-degree arson. In the
trial, witnesses testified that Gustafson instructed a man
named Brian Tiedens to “take care of” - as in
beat up - the victim, “J.K.” Tiedens did exactly
that. Tiedens forced J.K. into a garage, demanded that J.K.
strip so that Tiedens could search him for a wire, and
punched J.K. with weighted gloves and unleashed a pit bull on
is now serving a sentence of 180-months imprisonment on the
racketeering conviction concurrent with 150-months
imprisonment on the three aiding and abetting convictions.
Gustafson has filed a § 2254 habeas petition requesting
that the Court order that he be given a new trial. Gustafson
argues in his petition that the state trial and appellate
courts committed various constitutional errors, unreasonably
determined the facts of his case, and permitted him to be
represented by ineffective counsel.
all habeas petitions, the Court's role is limited. The
Court may not determine anew whether it thinks Gustafson is
guilty or not guilty.
light of the constraints of habeas review, United States
Magistrate Judge Jeffrey J. Keyes issued a Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the
Court deny Gustafson's petition because it does not meet
§ 2254's high bar. Gustafson has filed objections.
Because the Court finds that the state court's
determination of the facts, in light of the evidence
presented, was not “unreasonable, ” and that
Gustafson has not presented successful Strickland
arguments of ineffective assistance of counsel, the Court
will overrule Gustafson's objections, adopt the R&R,
and deny Gustafson's petition.
2012, Gustafson was tried in Minnesota state court on seven
counts: one count of racketeering, one count of conspiracy to
commit first-degree murder, and five counts for aiding and
abetting the following crimes of first-degree murder,
first-degree burglary, kidnapping, second-degree assault, and
first-degree arson. The jury returned a guilty verdict on
four of the counts: racketeering, and aiding and abetting the
three crimes of kidnapping, second-degree assault, and
first-degree arson. For the racketeering charge, the jury
needed to find that Gustafson had engaged in a pattern of
criminal activity, defined as participation in three or more
criminal acts. See Minn. Stat. § 609.902, subd.
6. The jury found that he had committed four such predicate
acts: aiding and abetting kidnapping, aiding and abetting
second-degree assault, aiding and abetting first degree
arson, and accessory after the fact to aggravated robbery.
(R&R at 4, June 4, 2015, Docket No. 20.)
Gustafson's objections to the R&R focus on the
kidnapping and second-degree assault. Gustafson does not
dispute the following facts: Tiedens called J.K. over to the
house at issue. Once there, Tiedens ordered J.K. into the
garage and required J.K. to strip so that Tiedens could
search him for a wire. Once the search was complete, Tiedens
permitted J.K. to put his clothes back on, J.K. sat on a
chair, and Tiedens then assaulted J.K by punching him with
weighted gloves and unleashing a pit bull on him. See
State v. Gustafson, No. A12-0918, 2013 WL 1705029, at *3
(Minn.Ct.App. Apr. 22, 2013), review denied, (Minn.
July 16, 2013); (see also Mem. of Objs. at 3, Oct.
13, 2015, Docket No. 28).
what Gustafson objects to involves the evidence linking
Gustafson to these events. At trial, J.K. testified that
Tiedens told him, during the course of the assault, that
“this is from Big Joe, ” with “Big
Joe” being Gustafson. (Second Appendix, Ex. D at 303,
Nov. 26, 2014, Docket No. 15.) Later, Tiedens testified too.
In the midst of Tiedens's testimony, the judge gave a
limiting instruction, stating that the jury was to use the
remainder of Tiedens's testimony for the “limited
purpose” of “deciding whether or not there was an
enterprise relating to the charge of racketeering” and
that the jury was “not [to] use this evidence to decide
whether the defendant committed any of the other specific
crimes.” (Id., Ex. E at 31-32.) Then Tiedens
restarted his testimony and stated that prior to the events
in question, Gustafson had instructed him to “get[
J.K., ] over to [Gustafson's] house” and to
“tak[e] care of him, ” which Tiedens understood
to mean that he was supposed to “[b]eat him up, shut
him up, ” and “[i]ntimidate him, scare him so he
shuts up and doesn't talk to the cops anymore.”
(Id. at 46.)
his trial, Gustafson appealed his case to the Minnesota Court
of Appeals, where his conviction was affirmed in April 2013.
Gustafson, 2013 WL 1705029, at *9. The ...