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Greene v. State

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 11, 2017

Wendell Anthony Greene, Petitioner,
v.
State of Minnesota, Respondent.

          Wendell Anthony Greene, ID No. 242398, MCF-Moose Lake, 1000 Lake Shore Drive, Moose Lake, MN 55767, petitioner pro se

          Rebekka L. Stumme, St. Louis County Attorney's Office, counsel for respondent

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KATHERINE MENENDEZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         After a jury trial in St. Louis County, the petitioner, Wendell Greene, was convicted of three counts of criminal sexual conduct involving two minor children, and he is serving a lengthy prison sentence. Mr. Greene has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He argues that: (1) he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his trial attorney failed to bring a motion to suppress statements that were made to a county social worker without a Miranda warning; (2) admission of the statements at trial violated his due process rights; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his post-conviction petition related to his ineffective assistance of counsel claim without an evidentiary hearing. For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends that Mr. Greene's habeas petition be denied.

         I. Background

         A. The State Court Proceedings

         Following a jury trial, Mr. Greene was convicted of three counts of criminal sexual conduct with two young girls. State v. Greene, No. A14-0097, 2015 WL 7356545, at *1 (Minn.Ct.App. Nov. 23, 2015), review denied (Jan. 27, 2016). On June 9, 2012, one of the girls reported to her mother that Mr. Greene had sexually abused her that day. Id. Within a few days, the incident was reported to social services. Id. On June 12, 2012, a Duluth Police Department investigator interviewed both girls, who described several instances of sexual misconduct involving Mr. Greene. Id.

         The following day, investigators interviewed Mr. Greene. Id. at *2. Two days later, Mr. Greene participated in a recorded interview with Andrew Fena, a county social worker in the Initial Intervention Unit, while in custody at the St. Louis County jail. Id. Mr. Fena did not give Mr. Greene a Miranda warning during the interview, though he did inform Mr. Greene that he was under no obligation to participate in or continue the discussion. See Mem. in Supp. of Pet. for Post-Conviction Relief (“Post-Conviction Mem.”) at 19, ECF No. 7-3. The recording of their conversation was played during Mr. Greene's trial. Transcript of Proceedings Jury Trial Volume IV, at 94:5-164:23, ECF No. 7-24.

         Mr. Greene was convicted of one count of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and two counts of criminal sexual misconduct in the second degree. See Minn. Stat. §§ 609.342, subd. 1(a), 609.343, subd. 1(a); see also Warrant of Commitment, at 1-5, ECF No. 7-28. He was initially sentenced to three concurrent prison terms, the longest of which was 216 months. Warrant of Commitment at 2. He appealed his convictions and sentence to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

         While his direct appeal was pending, Mr. Greene sought post-conviction relief on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Mr. Green asserted that his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to object to the introduction of Mr. Greene's un-Mirandized statement to Mr. Fena. Post-Conviction Mem. at 1-11. The trial court summarily rejected this claim, indicating that Mr. Greene had failed to establish the prejudice prong of the two-part Strickland test. Order (“Post-Conviction Order”), at 1, ECF No. 7-5 (denying Mr. Greene's post-conviction claim “[b]ased on the totality of the evidence of [his] guilt, ” including the testimony of the two child victims in his case and the testimony of a child Spreigl witness).

         Mr. Greene's direct appeal and his appeal of the post-conviction decision were consolidated, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals addressed issues related to both proceedings in the same decision. Greene, 2015 WL 7356545, at * 3-6. As to his direct appeal, two of the three convictions were affirmed and one was vacated. Id. at *3-5. Of relevance to his federal habeas petition, Mr. Greene argued that the post-conviction court had erred in denying his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, and that at a minimum he was entitled to a hearing on the issue. See Appellant's Br. & Add. (“Ct. of Appeals Br.”), at 34-47, ECF No. 7-7. The Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the post-conviction court did not err in its conclusion that Mr. Greene had failed to establish his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, nor did the post-conviction court abuse its discretion in summarily denying his petition. Greene, 2015 WL 7356545, at *5.

         In his Petition for Review to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Mr. Greene again challenged the post-conviction court's order. See Pet. for Review (“PFR”), ECF No. 7-10. Mr. Greene rearticulated his challenge as an assertion about the merits of his underlying Miranda claim, but the focus remained on the post-conviction court's ineffective assistance of counsel determination. See PFR at 11 (arguing that failure to raise the Miranda claim at trial constituted ineffective assistance of counsel). Mr. Greene also again argued that he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the issue, and that the post-conviction court had abused its discretion in summarily denying his claim. PFR at 11. Mr. Greene's PFR was summarily denied on January 27, 2016. ECF No. 7-11, at 1.

         Mr. Greene was ultimately resentenced on the two remaining counts of conviction, to 187 months imprisonment and a life term of conditional release. Am. Warrant of Commitment, at 1-4, ECF No. 7-29.

         B. Federal Habeas ...


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