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Dahl v. Miles

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 20, 2017

JAMES DONALD DAHL, Petitioner,
v.
EDDIE MILES, JR., Respondent.

          James Donald Dahl, No. 124796, Minnesota Correctional Facility, pro se.

          Janelle P. Kendall, Stearns County Attorney, and Michael J. Lieberg, Assistant County Attorney, STEARNS COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, for respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Petitioner James Donald Dahl was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in 2010 in state court. Dahl filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Court now considers Dahl's objections to the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Becky Thorson recommending denial of Dahl's petition. After a thorough review of Dahl's objections, the Court will adopt the Report and Recommendation that Dahl's habeas petition is time-barred, and thus dismissal of Dahl's petition is warranted.

         BACKGROUND

         I. DAHL'S STATE-COURT PROCEEDINGS

         In 2010, after a jury trial, Dahl was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in Stearns County District Court. He was sentenced to serve 173 months in prison. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction on September 26, 2011, and the Minnesota Supreme Court denied review on December 21, 2011. State v. Dahl, No. A10-1813, 2011 WL 4435325 (Minn.Ct.App. Sept. 26, 2011), review denied, (Minn. Dec. 21, 2011).

         Dahl filed a state petition for post-conviction relief on March 17, 2014, asserting ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The post-conviction court held a three-day evidentiary hearing in January 2015 in which Dahl called five witnesses and testified on his own behalf. Dahl's petition for post-conviction relief was denied in a 52-page order on September 24, 2015, which the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed on August 15, 2016. The Minnesota Supreme Court denied review on October 26, 2016. No. A15-1870, Dahl v. State, 2016 WL 4263020 (Minn.Ct.App. Aug. 15, 2016), review denied, (Minn. Oct. 26, 2016).

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Dahl filed this habeas petition on October 19, 2016. (Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Petition”), Oct. 19, 2016, Docket No. 2.) Dahl moved to appoint counsel on the same day. (Mot. to Appoint Counsel, Oct. 19, 2016, Docket No. 4.) Overall, Dahl filed eight documents, including his petition and motion as well as letters and statements, between October 19 and November 21, 2016.[1] On November 22, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued an order directing Dahl to submit a written memorandum and affidavit explaining the full procedural history of his state-court proceedings and showing cause as to why his petition should not be summarily dismissed pursuant to the statute of limitations codified in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).[2] (Order, Nov. 22, 2016, Docket No. 13.) In addition, the Magistrate Judge denied Dahl's motion for appointment of counsel, reasoning that

[a]t this early stage of the proceedings . . . the relevant factors skew against appointment of counsel. Neither the facts nor the legal issues raised in the petition are so complex as to warrant appointment of counsel at this time. It appears to the Court that Petitioner has the ability to articulate his claims, to argue his positions, and to communicate effectively with the Court.

(Id. at 3.)

         In response to the Magistrate Judge's order, Dahl filed seven additional documents between December 1, 2016, and January 9, 2017, including a timeline of his state-court proceedings as well as additional explanation of the basis for his claims.[3] Dahl claims innocence and asserts a number of constitutional errors in his state-court proceedings.

         On February 15, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued an R&R recommending dismissal with prejudice of Dahl's habeas petition.[4] (R&R, Feb. 15, 2017, Docket No. 22.) The Magistrate Judge found that Dahl's petition is time-barred because it was filed more than a year after March 21, 2012 - the date that Dahl's state-court conviction became final.[5] (Id. at 3 (citing § 2244(d)).) The Magistrate Judge found that while a pending state petition for post-conviction relief tolls AEDPA's statute of limitations, Dahl filed his post-conviction petition after the AEDPA statute of limitations had already expired, so there was “no federal limitations period remaining to toll.” (Id. at 3-4 (quoting Painter v. State of Iowa, 247 F.3d 1255, 1256 (8th Cir. 2001).)

         Addressing possible exceptions to the statute of limitations, the Magistrate Judge concluded that Dahl did not demonstrate that he is entitled to equitable tolling of the statute of limitations, as described in Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 634 (2010), because Dahl did not show that “he pursued his rights diligently and was unable to pursue his post-conviction claims for more than a year after his conviction was final.” (Id. at 4.) The Magistrate Judge also concluded that Dahl's claim of actual innocence did not overcome the statute of limitations, as set out in McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct. 1924, 1928 (2013), because Dahl failed to provide any new evidence not present at the original trial going to Dahl's innocence. (Id. at 5-6.) Finally, the Magistrate Judge declined to recommend that the Court issue a Certificate of Appealability based on the conclusion that “it [is] unlikely that any other court . . . would decide Dahl's petition any differently than has been recommended.” (Id. at 7.)

         In response to the R&R, Dahl filed eight additional documents, which the Court construes as objections and supplemental objections.[6]

         ANALYSIS

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Upon the filing of an R&R 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 judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). On nondispositive matters, the Court reviews any portion of the Magistrate Judge's order that has been timely objected to, and will “modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(a).

         The Court construes Dahl's pro se pleadings liberally. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The Court has reviewed in detail all twenty-three documents that Dahl filed in this case - including both those documents filed before the Magistrate Judge and the additional documents filed in response to the R&R.

         II. THE ANTITERRORISM AND ...


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