United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Rucker, MCF Stillwater, pro se Petitioner.
M. Freyer, Hennepin County Attorney's Office, for
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
T. SCHULTZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Renard Rucker seeks a Writ of Habeas Corpus vacating his
state court conviction and sentence for three counts of first
degree criminal sexual conduct. Rucker raises three distinct
grounds to support his request, each implicating his right to
counsel under the Sixth Amendment. Respondent Eddie Miles,
Jr. moves to dismiss Rucker's petition as being
procedurally defaulted. Because all of Rucker's grounds
for habeas relief are procedurally defaulted, the Court
recommends the petition be dismissed with prejudice.
was charged with three counts of first degree criminal sexual
conduct for actions that took place over the course of more
than a year. Minnesota v. Rucker, 2017 WL 746422, at
*1 (Minn.Ct.App. Feb. 27, 2017), review denied
(Minn. May 16, 2017). The State of Minnesota alleged that, on
multiple occasions, Rucker sexually penetrated H.B., his
girlfriend's daughter, while all three of them were
living together. Id.
voir dire, Rucker's trial counsel noted to the trial
court that the 21-member jury panel was entirely Caucasian.
Rspd's App. 40 (Order Den. Pet'r's Mot. for
Postconviction Relief), Docket No. 12. The trial court
agreed. Id. However, Rucker's counsel did not
make any further motion or note which jurors the prosecution
peremptorily struck. Id.; Rucker, 2017 WL
746422, at *4.
trial, several individuals testified, including H.B.,
H.B.'s mother, and a forensic examiner from CornerHouse,
a nonprofit organization that provides support services in
cases involving the possible mistreatment of children.
Rspd's App. 41-42. The prosecution also showed the jury a
recorded interview the forensic examiner conducted with H.B.
while she was at CornerHouse. Id. Jurors received a
printed transcript of the interview, which was collected
after the video was shown. Id. The judge informed
the jurors before viewing the interview that the recording
was the evidence, not the transcript. Id.
the prosecution and Rucker's counsel had agreed to redact
portions of the interview in which H.B. discussed
Rucker's history of abusing her mother, the transcript
provided to the jury was not redacted. Id. at 42-43.
In a later part of the video shown to the jurors, H.B. also
made statements about Rucker's mistreatment of her mother
that were similar to the earlier comments the parties had
agreed to redact. Id. at 43. Outside the presence of
the jury, Rucker's counsel stated his concern that jurors
may have read the unredacted transcript, but, ultimately, he
declined to poll the jury, instead requesting that the judge
reiterate his limiting instruction that the video was the
evidence. Id. at 43-45.
was convicted on all three counts and sentenced to 201 months
in prison. Id. at 45. After the trial, one of the
jurors wrote letters to Rucker's trial counsel, the
court, and the prosecution. The juror stated that he felt
harassed and intimidated by the others, but made no specific
allegation of a threat of violence. Id. Rucker's
counsel moved for a hearing to impeach the jury's verdict
because of potential juror misconduct. The trial court denied
the motion, concluding the defense had failed to make a prima
facie showing of intimidation. Id.
initially appealed his conviction to the Minnesota Court of
Appeals, arguing, among other grounds, that he had received
ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial.
Rucker, 2017 WL 746422, at *1. He then sought a stay
of the direct appeal to pursue postconviction relief in
district court based on a theory of ineffective assistance of
counsel. Id. When the district court denied his
petition for postconviction relief, the Minnesota Court of
Appeals lifted the stay, determined that Rucker had not
satisfied the standard set forth in Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and affirmed the
verdict. Rucker, 2017 WL 746422, at *1-4, 6. Rucker
sought review from the Minnesota Supreme Court, but only on
the ground that his trial counsel was ineffective because he
had failed to review the transcript and video of H.B.'s
interview before they were published to the jury. Rspd's
App. 140-41 (Pet. for Review). The Minnesota Supreme Court
denied review. Rspd's App. 152.
petition, Rucker asserts three grounds for habeas
relief. He contends that his trial counsel was
deficient for (1) failing to properly inquire into a
juror's letters claiming that juror felt harassed, (2)
failing to preserve the record regarding the racial makeup of
the jury panel by making a Batson motion, and (3)
failing to review the interview video and ...