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Hubbard v. Janssen

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 31, 2017

Eddie Niles Hubbard, Petitioner,
Vicki Janssen, Respondent.



         The above-captioned case comes before the undersigned on Petitioner Eddie Niles Hubbard's (“Hubbard”) Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (“Habeas Petition”) [Doc. No. 1].[1] This matter has been referred for the resolution of pretrial matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and District of Minnesota Local Rule 72.1. For the reasons stated below, the Court recommends the Habeas Petition be denied and this case be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Background in State Court

         On May 10, 2013, Hubbard fatally shot his friend J.C. State v. Hubbard, No. A14-1259, 2015 WL 4714802, at *1 (Minn.Ct.App. Aug. 10, 2015), review denied (Minn. Oct. 28, 2015). The victim, his girlfriend K.S., and K.S.'s children had lived with Hubbard on and off for several months. Id. The week before the shooting, Hubbard and J.C. had several arguments. Id. In one incident, J.C., K.S., and K.S.'s children arrived at Hubbard's home expecting to find “a key for them in the usual place.” Id. Hubbard, however, refused to let them inside. Id. J.C. looked for the key at the back of the house, and when he returned to the front of the house, he was holding a brick and told K.S. that Hubbard “had called some people to come over and do something to him.” Id. J.C. put the brick down at K.S.'s request, and the police arrived. Id. Hubbard and J.C. later spent about three hours together, after which J.C. “told K.S. that they could stay at [Hubbard's] house through the end of the month.” Id.

         On May 10, 2013, J.C. and K.S. decided that they needed to leave Hubbard's home after Hubbard texted K.S. to say that he wanted them to leave. Id. J.C. spoke to Hubbard and then returned to the room he and K.S. had been using. Id. He told K.S. that Hubbard wanted them to pack their belongings and leave. Id. While J.C. and K.S. were packing, Hubbard began yelling up the stairs, calling J.C. names and complaining about J.C.'s refusal to accompany Hubbard to the pharmacy. Id. at *2. Hubbard approached the bedroom, and K.S. turned her back to him. Id. She then “felt something pushing hard on her back, ” and when she turned, she saw it was a black shotgun. Id.

K.S. began crying and begged [Hubbard] to put the gun down. As K.S. walked from side to side, [Hubbard] followed her movements with the gun. K.S. walked over to where J.C. was standing, and [Hubbard] lowered the gun. [Hubbard] said to J.C., “You can talk to this b . . . ch but you can't talk to me? What, I'm not good enough for you? You can't even come to the pharmacy with me?” J.C. replied that he was packing as [Hubbard] had requested. [Hubbard] raised the gun, pumped it, and moved the barrel back and forth, alternately pointing it at K.S. and J.C. J.C. yelled at [Hubbard] to put the gun down, and [Hubbard] pulled the trigger, fatally shooting J.C. in the abdomen. K.S. had been standing right next to J.C., and her back was spattered with his blood. K.S. testified that she did not see a weapon in J.C.'s hand and did not see J.C. threaten or make any movement toward [Hubbard].
[Hubbard], who was shaking badly and still had the gun in his hand, walked over to K.S. and said, “It was an accident, say it was an accident!” [Hubbard] then pointed the gun at K.S., who was holding her children on her lap, and said, “You better tell the police it was a f . . . ing accident.” K.S. promised to do so, and [Hubbard] ran out of the room. K.S. called 911 as soon as [Hubbard] left the room. When police arrived a few minutes later, [Hubbard] had fled from the house. Shortly after the shooting, [Hubbard] gave varying accounts of it to a 911 operator and friends.

Id. Hubbard was charged with second-degree intentional murder and four counts of second-degree assault. Id. at *1. “In addition to the charged offenses, two lesser included offenses were submitted to the jury[]”: first-degree intentional manslaughter and second-degree unintentional murder. Id. at *3. “The jury found [Hubbard] guilty of first-degree manslaughter and one count of second-degree assault.” Id.

         After the trial, Hubbard made the following arguments in his appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals:

(1) the manslaughter conviction must be reversed because the evidence was insufficient to prove that he intended to cause the victim's death and that he was not acting in self-defense; (2) the assault conviction must be reversed because the evidence was insufficient to prove that he intended to cause the victim fear of immediate bodily harm or death; (3) the district court denied him a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense; (4) the district court erred in instructing the jury on self-defense; and (5) evidence of other bad acts was irrelevant and not probative and, therefore, should have been excluded.

Id. at *1. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, and the Minnesota Supreme Court denied review on October 28, 2015. See Id. Hubbard did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court.[2]

         B. Background in Federal Court

         Hubbard filed his Habeas Petition on December 7, 2016, raising the following grounds for relief: (1) the evidence was insufficient to establish that Hubbard acted with the requisite intent instead of acting in self-defense; (2) the evidence was insufficient to prove that Hubbard “intended to cause K.S. fear of immediate bodily harm or death”; (3) the trial court denied Hubbard's right to a meaningful defense when it did not allow Hubbard to cross-examine K.S. about breaking into his home; and (4) the jury instructions were unconstitutional because “the district court did not properly instruct the jury” regarding Hubbard's self-defense claim. (Habeas Pet. at 5, 7-8, 10). In the Memorandum accompanying his Petition, Hubbard raises numerous additional grounds for relief. See (Mem.) [Doc. No. 4-1].[3] These additional grounds are: (5) ineffective assistance of trial counsel;[4] (6) the trial court erred in denying his request for a different attorney; (7) both the prosecutors and defense counsel failed to use certain evidence; (8) the trial court “gave a defective reasonable doubt instruction to the jury” in violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments; (9) the trial court erred in providing additional instructions and an additional criminal charge to the jury in the absence of Hubbard and his counsel; (10) the trial “[c]ourt erred when it gave [an] aggravated sentence for children” when Hubbard was not convicted of child-related charges; (11) the delays caused by disputes regarding whether Hubbard qualified for a public defender prejudiced Hubbard because witnesses forgot the accounts they gave law enforcement officers; (12) the trial court erred in limiting the scope of cross-examination with respect to one of the investigators; (13) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of Hubbard's prior bad acts; (14) the trial court abused its discretion when it disallowed photographic evidence of J.C. holding a shotgun; (15) the trial court erred in discouraging the jury from taking notes; (16) the trial court erred in prohibiting evidence related to J.C.'s mental health history and arrest record; (17) the trial court erred in refusing the jury's request to read K.S.'s testimony; (18) the trial court erred in permitting the prosecutor's improper closing argument; and (19) the prosecution improperly excluded individuals who were young, college-educated, African-American, and male in violation of the constitution. See (id.). Hubbard's Memorandum also repeats and expands upon certain grounds raised in the Petition. See (id. at 13, 25-27).

         Respondent Vicki Janssen (the “State”) argues that most of Hubbard's claims are procedurally defaulted, and the claim that is arguably fully exhausted-whether the prosecution sufficiently disproved Hubbard's self-defense argument-fails on the merits. See generally (State's Mem. in Opp'n); see also (id. at 12-13).


         Hubbard's claims are procedurally defaulted. Only one claim-whether self-defense was sufficiently disproved-was raised before the Minnesota Supreme Court.[5] (App.) [Doc. No. 16 at 96]. The Court first discusses ...

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