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Stabnow v. DHS Commissioner's Office

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 23, 2019

Robert Lee Stabnow, Petitioner,
DHS Commissioner's Office, Respondent.

          Robert Lee Stabnow, (pro se Petitioner)

          Leonard J. Schweich and Matthew Frank, Assistant Attorneys General, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, (for Respondent).


          Tony N. Leung United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Robert Lee Stabnow's Petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (ECF Nos. 1 & 8) and his motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 14). This matter has been referred to the undersigned for a Report and Recommendation to the Honorable Paul A. Magnuson, District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and D. Minn. LR 72.1. For the reasons that follow, the Court recommends that the Petition and motion for summary judgment be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner Robert Lee Stabnow has been civilly committed as Sexually Dangerous Person at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (“MSOP”) since August 31, 2007. (ECF No. 13-2, p. 134). Petitioner did not directly appeal the order committing him, but has since challenged his commitment unsuccessfully in several ways. In 2013, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Minnesota state court. (ECF No. 13-1, p. 413; ECF No. 13-2, p. 198). Petitioner did not appeal the order denying him habeas relief. Two years later, Petitioner filed a motion for relief under Minnesota Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02. (ECF No. 13-1, p. 220; ECF No. 13-1, p. 405). Petitioner did appeal from the decision denying him relief under Rule 60.02. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed and the Minnesota Supreme Court denied review. (ECF No. 13-1, p. 37-41). Petitioner has also twice petitioned the Special Review Panel and Judicial Appeal Panel for transfer, provisional discharge, or discharge. (ECF No. 13-1, pp. 3-5, 9-22). Both petitions were denied, with the most recent decision being entered on September 17, 2018. (Id.). Petitioner did not appeal the denial of either petition to Minnesota's appellate courts.

         On June 11, 2019, Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No. 1). He contends that his “commitment is for an undetermined time” and that, among other things, it violates his rights under the First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (ECF No. 1, pp. 1, 9). Petitioner seeks “declaratory and injunctive relief, ” including an order vacating his commitment.

         On July 30, 2019, Petitioner filed an amended petition, so that he could change the name of the responding party and add certain exhibits in support of his claim. (ECF No. 8). Respondent answered the Petition on August 29, 2019. Petitioner filed a reply brief, along with a motion for summary judgment, on September 9, 2019. The Court then took the matter under advisement.

         II. ANALYSIS

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) governs review of habeas corpus petitions filed by persons civilly committed under state law. Persons civilly committed under state law may seek relief on the grounds that they are “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Relief may be granted under Section 2254 only if the petitioner can establish that a state court proceeding “(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;” or “(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.” Id. § 2254(d).

         A person seeking relief under Section 2254 must file his or her application within a “1-year period of limitation.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The one-year period runs from the latest of: (1) the date that direct appeal is concluded or the expiration of the time for seeking such review; (2) the date on which the impediment to applying for habeas relief is removed; (3) the date on which the constitutional right was initially recognized; or (4) the date on which the claims could have been discovered through the reasonable exercise of due diligence. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A)-(D). Time during which a properly-filed state postconviction petition or similar motion is pending does not count toward the one-year period of limitation. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). But the fact that a person files a postconviction petition or similar motion does not reset the one-year period of limitation. Johnson v. Mooney, No. 05-cv-1030, 2006 WL 1284076, at *4 n. 4 (D. Minn. May 10, 2006). It merely pauses the clock on the limitations period until that petition or motion is resolved. Id. A late-filed postconviction petition or other similar motion “cannot revive a time period that has already expired.” Id. (citation omitted).

         A. Claims Related to the Commitment Order are Time-Barred

         It is not clear what state court proceeding Petitioner is claiming resulted in a decision that was contrary to or resulted in an unreasonable application of federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). On the very first page of his Amended Petition, he indicates that he seeks relief from the August 31, 2007 decision ordering that he be civilly committed. To the extent Petitioner seeks relief from that order, the Court must recommend the Amended Petition be denied with prejudice. The time to appeal that order expired on October 30, 2008. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 104.01, subd. 1 (providing 60 days to appeal district court judgment). Petitioner, however, did not seek habeas relief until July 2019, nearly 11 years after the one-year statute of limitations expired. Any claim related to the August 31, 2007 decision is therefore time-barred.

         Petitioner has not identified any impediment that prevented him from challenging that order in a timely fashion. Nor has he claimed that his petition relates to constitutional rights that were recognized by the United States Supreme Court only after he was civilly committed. The fact that beginning in 2013, Petitioner began to seek relief from the Judicial Appeal Panel and through other state court proceedings does not restart the one-year limitations period for claims related to the initial commitment order. See Johnson, 2006 WL 1284076, at *4 n. 4. Accordingly, the ...

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