United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on a Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the following
reasons, the Petition is denied.
August 19, 2014, a Hennepin County jury convicted Petitioner
Emem Ufot Udoh of two counts of second-degree criminal sexual
conduct and one count of first-degree criminal sexual
conduct. The charges arose out of contact Udoh had with his
two stepdaughters, 13-year-old K.K.W. and 11-year-old K.C.W.
The trial court sentenced Udoh to 144 months'
imprisonment on the first-degree conviction, and a concurrent
70 months on the second-degree convictions. Udoh appealed,
filing both an attorney-authored brief and a pro se brief.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals determined that the
second-degree count as to K.K.W. was a lesser included
offense of the first-degree count as to the same child, and
vacated that conviction, but otherwise rejected Udoh's
challenges. State v. Udoh, No. A14-2181, 2016 WL
6867328 (Minn.Ct.App. 2016). On remand, the trial court
sentenced Udoh to the same sentence it had previously
the Minnesota Supreme Court denied review and the United
States Supreme Court declined to issue a writ of certiorari,
Udoh brought the instant Petition, claiming that his
conviction runs afoul of the United States Constitution.
Although his precise claims are difficult to decipher, the
Petition can fairly be read to raise six grounds for relief.
Ground One argues that an expert witness interfered with the
jury's role by testifying that Udoh's conduct
qualified as penetration. Ground Two claims that his
convictions for both first- and second-degree criminal sexual
contact as to K.K.W. violated his Double Jeopardy rights and
caused the trial court to impose an unconstitutionally
cumulative punishment, including lifetime supervised release.
Ground Three contends that the trial court violated
Udoh's Confrontation Clause rights by not allowing him to
present extrinsic evidence that allegedly would have
undermined the credibility of one of the victims. Ground Four
claims that the trial court's determination regarding
extrinsic evidence of the victim's veracity violated
Udoh's due-process rights and his right to a fair trial.
Ground Five argues that prosecutorial misconduct deprived
Udoh of his due-process and equal-protection rights. And
Ground Six contends that the trial court erred in denying
Udoh's motion for a judgment of acquittal because there
was insufficient evidence to convict him. Udoh asks for an
evidentiary hearing on his claims.
Standard of Review
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq., a
federal court “undertake[s] only a limited and
deferential review of underlying state court
decisions.” Collier v. Norris, 485 F.3d 415,
421 (8th Cir. 2007). Indeed, AEDPA “modified a federal
habeas court's role in reviewing state prisoner
applications in order to prevent federal habeas
‘retrials' and to ensure that state-court
convictions are given effect to the extent possible under
law.” Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693 (2002)
(citation omitted). 28 U.S.C. § 2254 provides:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless
the adjudication of the claim-
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Further, § 2254 states that
“a determination of a factual issue made by a State
court shall be presumed to be correct.” Id.
§ 2254(e)(1). The burden is on the petitioner to
“rebut the presumption of correctness by clear and
convincing evidence.” Id.
asks that this Court review the state-court rulings de novo,
arguing that the state courts failed to adjudicate the merits
of Udoh's federal constitutional claims. But Udoh
misapprehends the governing legal standards. Although a claim
not adjudicated on the merits in state court is not entitled
to deferential review, Brown v. Luebbers, 371 F.3d
458, 460-61 (8th Cir. 2004), the “pertinent question is
not whether the [state court] explicitly discussed the
[federal constitutional issues] but whether its decision
contradicted applicable Supreme Court precedent in its
reasoning or result.” Cox v. Burger, 398 F.3d
1025, 1030 (8th Cir. 2005). A state court's
“reasonable application of established federal law
‘does not require citation of [Supreme Court]
cases-indeed, it does not even require awareness of
[these] cases, so long as neither the reasoning nor the
result of the state-court decision contradicts
them.'” Id. (quoting Early v.
Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (per curiam) (emphasis in
original)). Even a cursory review of the trial court's
and appellate court's decisions on the issues Udoh raises
reveal that those courts either considered federal
constitutional principles in evaluating Udoh's claims or
that their determinations are not contrary to Supreme Court
precedent, to the extent the claims implicate any federal
constitutional rights. Thus, the claims he raises here were
“adjudicated on the merits in State court” and
the decisions of those courts is entitled to §
2254's highly deferential review.
that deferential review, “[a] federal court may not
issue the writ simply because it ‘concludes in its
independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision
applied clearly established federal law erroneously or
incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be
unreasonable.'” Lyons v. Luebbers, 403
F.3d 585, 592 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 411 (2000)). A “state
court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes
federal habeas relief so long as ...