United States District Court, D. Minnesota
S. Doty, Judge
matter is before the court upon petitioner Kemen Lavatos
Taylor, II's objection to the January 22, 2019, report
and recommendation (R&R) of Magistrate Judge Leo I.
Brisbois. The R&R recommended that the court dismiss
Taylor's petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 and that the court not issue a certificate
underlying facts are fully set forth in the R&R and the
court will not repeat them here. On October 4, 2012, a grand
jury indicted Taylor on two counts of murder. At Taylor's
jury trial, the Minnesota trial court required that all
spectators in the gallery show photographic identification
before entering the courtroom to prevent disruptions. Taylor
claims that as a result of this order, several of his family
members and friends were barred from attending the trial.
Taylor was convicted on both murder counts on March 5, 2014.
directly appealed the conviction to the Minnesota Supreme
Court, raising, among other things, a Sixth Amendment claim
that the photo-identification requirement violated his right
to a public trial. Taylor did not request at that time to
supplement the record. On August 26, 2015, the Minnesota
Supreme Court affirmed Taylor's conviction and held that
the photo identification requirement was “too trivial
to constitute a true closure” of his trial. State
v. Taylor, 869 N.W.2d 1, 11-12 (Minn. 2015). However,
one of the justices wrote a dissenting opinion stating that
“requiring members of the public to provide photo
identification to enter a courtroom during trial is a bridge
too far.” Id. at 23.
March 1, 2017, Taylor filed a petition for post-conviction
relief in Minnesota state court. Taylor sought a hearing to
introduce evidence that community members and his relatives
had been denied access to his trial because they could not
produce photo identification. On April 28, 2017, the state
trial court denied the petition because Minnesota procedure
requires that, in a post-conviction proceeding, all matters,
which have already been fully and fairly litigation cannot be
relitigated and matters that could have been raised on direct
appeal cannot be raised in a subsequent post-conviction
proceeding. See State v. Knaffla, 243 N.W.2d 737,
741 (Minn. 1976). On April 4, 2018, the Minnesota Supreme
Court affirmed the state trial court's denial of his
post-conviction petition. Taylor v. State, 910
N.W.2d 35 (Minn. 2018).
7, 2018, Taylor filed an amended petition for habeas corpus
under § 2254. On January 22, 2019, the magistrate judge
recommended that Taylor's amended habeas petition be
dismissed and that no certificate of appealability be issued.
Taylor now objects to the R&R.
federal court may grant habeas relief under § 2254 if it
determines that the underlying state-court decision was
“contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application
of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the
Supreme Court of the United States; or ... was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d). “[A] state court decision is contrary
to clearly established federal law if it arrives at a
conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a
question of law or if it decides a case differently than the
Supreme Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable
facts.” Brende v. Young, 907 F.3d 1080, 1085
(8th Cir. 2018) (internal citations omitted). This standard
is difficult to meet, and a habeas petitioner must
“show that the state court's ruling on the claim
... presented in federal court was so lacking in
justification that there was an error well understood and
comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for
fairminded disagreement.” Id. (internal
citations omitted). The unreasonable application of those
holdings must be objectively unreasonable, not merely wrong;
even clear error will not suffice. White v. Woodall,
572 U.S. 415, 419 (2014).
court reviews the R&R de novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636
(b)(1)(C); D. Minn. LR 72.2(b). After a careful review, the
court finds that the R&R is well reasoned and correct. As
a result, the court adopts the R&R and denies
Taylor's § 2254 habeas petition.
first objects to the magistrate judge's conclusion that
the photo-identification requirement is not contrary to or an
unreasonable application of federal law. Taylor relies on
Waller v. Georgia, 467 U.S. 39 (1984), (suppression
motion-hearing closure), and Presley v. Georgia, 558
U.S. 209 (2012), (voir-dire closure), but that reliance is
misplaced. Waller and Presley do not
address the standard for whether an actual closure occurred
in the first instance, but rather, the court's
justification for the closure. In addition, the Minnesota
Supreme Court did not apply Waller and
Presley in concluding that the photo-identification
requirement was not a closure of Taylor's trial.
Accordingly, the magistrate judge properly held that the
Minnesota Supreme Court's decision “does not
concern the standards for whether a trial closure is
justified; it concerns instead the logically prior question
of whether a closure meriting Sixth Amendment concern has
occurred at all.” ECF No. 33 at 16. The court must,
therefore, adopt the R&R and Taylor's habeas petition
must be denied.
next objects to the magistrate judge's conclusion that he
procedurally defaulted on his attempt to supplement the
record on his public-trial claim. “An application for a
writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody
pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be
granted unless it appears that ... the applicant has
exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the
State.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). “Federal
habeas corpus review is barred when a federal claim has not
been fairly presented to the state court for a determination
on the merits.” Hall v. Delo, 41 F.3d 1248,
1249-50 (8th Cir. 1994) (internal citations omitted).
“A habeas ...