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Burks v. Julian

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 28, 2017

Desmon Demond Burks, Petitioner,
Stephen Julian, Respondent.

          Desmon Demond Burks, Federal Correctional Institution Terre Haute, Terre Haute, Indiana, pro se.

          Edwin William Stockmeyer, III, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, Peter J. Orput, Hennepin County Attorney's Office, for Defendant.


          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, United States District Judge.


         This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for consideration of Petitioner Desmon Demond Burks's Objections [Doc. No. 10] to United States Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), dated May 15, 2017 [Doc. No. 8]. The magistrate judge recommended that Burks's 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody [Doc. No. 1] (“Habeas Pet.”) be denied, and this action be dismissed.

         Pursuant to statute, this Court reviews de novo any portion of the magistrate judge's opinion to which specific objections are made, and “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations” contained in that opinion. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). Based on that de novo review, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court overrules Petitioner's objections and adopts the R&R in its entirety.


         Burks is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institute in Terre Haute, Indiana, having been convicted in this Court for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aiding and abetting bank fraud, and aggravated identify theft. See United States v. Burks, No. 11-cr-369(4) (PAM/FLN) (D. Minn.). However, Burks's petition does not relate to his federal incarceration. Rather, Burks challenges the validity of a sentence imposed in Minnesota state court in 2002. (See Habeas Pet. at 6.) See Burks v. State, No. A15-1416, 2016 WL 3375956 (Minn.Ct.App. June 20, 2016). In that case, Burks pleaded guilty to one count of terroristic threats, and was given a stayed sentence of 21 months, subject to a five-year term of probation. Id. at *1. Burks's probation ended in 2007, but as a result of his conviction, he is required by Minnesota law to register as a predatory offender. See Minn. Stat. § 243.166.

         Burks now brings the present habeas corpus petition to challenge the registration requirement, arguing that it violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution, and that in any event he was not convicted of an enumerated offense requiring registration. (See Habeas Pet. at 6.) See U.S. Const. art. I, § 10, cl. 1. Pursuant to statute and the local rules of this Court, Burks's petition was first referred to the magistrate judge for review. See 28 U.S.C. § 636; D. Minn. LR 72.1. The R&R submitted to this Court did not consider the merits of Burks's claims, however, because Judge Rau concluded as a threshold matter that the petition is procedurally improper because Burks is not “in custody” as that term is construed for purposes of § 2254 petitions. (See R&R at 2-3.) See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); accord 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(1)-(3). In particular, although the magistrate judge recognized that Burks is currently incarcerated for a federal crime, he is no longer subject to any restraint as a result of his state court terroristic threats conviction, besides the ongoing requirement to register as a predatory offender. Judge Rau concluded that this collateral consequence does not rise to the level of being “in custody, ” and thus Burks's petition must fail. (See R&R at 3-4.)

         Burks filed timely objections to the R&R on May 24, 2017, triggering this de novo review.


         Burks's first objection contends that because the Eighth Circuit has never “passed on the question of registration requirements as sufficient to allow for ‘in-custody' treatment, ” his petition presents a matter of first impression that requires statutory analysis. (See Objections at 2.) Burks contends that this analysis has not been done- presumably by the magistrate judge. (See id.)

         The Court rejects this assertion. While Burks is correct that the Eighth Circuit has not considered this specific factual scenario, he is mistaken in suggesting that Judge Rau somehow engaged in an improperly cursory review of the procedural sufficiency of his claim. On the contrary, the R&R demonstrates careful consideration of whether a non- punitive registration requirement-the only remaining consequence of an otherwise expired conviction-can constitute being “in custody” under § 2254. Analogizing to similar cases that have found a requirement to register as a sex offender to be insufficient, the magistrate judge prudently determined that registration as a predatory offender likewise falls below the habeas threshold. (See R&R at 3-4.) See Virsnieks v. Smith, 521 F.3d 707, 718 (7th Cir. 2008); Hansen v. Marr, 594 F.Supp.2d 1097, 1100 (D. Neb. 2009); Stevens v. Fabian, No. 08-cv-1011 (ADM/AJB), 2009 WL 161216, at *10 (D. Minn. Jan. 22, 2009). Having reviewed Judge Rau's reasoning, this Court likewise finds that the burdens imposed by registration as a predatory offender do not cause a petitioner to be “in custody” under § 2254.

         This determination largely disposes of Burks's second objection, which contends that “analogizing [to] a Sex Offender Registration . . . is misplaced” because the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 243.166 stem from an underlying “violent” offense. (Objections at 2.) Burks does not indicate why this distinction is relevant to the present procedural analysis, however, which is concerned with the consequences of the “restrictions and obligations imposed upon” the petitioner. See Jones v. Jerrison, 20 F.3d 849, 852 n.2 (8th Cir. 1994). As the Court cannot conceive of any relevant difference between ...

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