United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) of Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung
dated September 23, 2019. In the R&R, Magistrate Judge
Leung recommends denying Petitioner's Motion for Summary
Judgment, and dismissing the Petition and Amended Petition
without prejudice as to one claim and with prejudice as to
another. Petitioner filed timely objections to the R&R.
Court must review de novo any portion of an R&R to which
specific objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); D.
Minn. L.R. 72.2(b). After conducting the required review and
for the following reasons, the Court ADOPTS
the R&R. (Docket No. 19.)
Robert Lee Stabnow is currently committed to the Minnesota
Sex Offender Program (“MSOP”). As recounted in
the R&R, he has challenged his commitment several times
in state court. (R&R at 2.) The instant federal Petition
seeks a declaratory judgment vacating his commitment for
violations of his constitutional rights.
R&R concluded that, to the extent Stabnow challenges his
initial commitment order, that challenge is time-barred.
(R&R at 4.) To the extent Stabnow challenges the state
court's most recent decision regarding his commitment,
the R&R recommended dismissal of that challenge without
prejudice for failure to exhaust remedies. (Id. at
9.) Stabnow's objections make clear that he does not
challenge his initial commitment proceeding, but rather he
believes the laws governing his commitment are
unconstitutional both facially and as applied to him. (Obj.
(Docket No. 20) at ¶ 7.j; ¶ D.15.)
Stabnow's claims is his belief that he cannot receive a
fair hearing regarding his commitment in state court because
state judges are elected and thus are politically motivated
to be biased against MSOP detainees. (Id. ¶
7.a.) This bias allegedly extends to the legislative and
executive branches of state government, which prevents
Stabnow “from receiving a fair and unbiased review of
his commitment under the discharge process outlined in
[Minnesota] law.” (Id. ¶ 7.e.) Thus, he
argues that the Court should not require him to exhaust his
extent Stabnow contends that the Minnesota civil commitment
statute is unconstitutional, either as applied to him or on
its face, the Eighth Circuit has ruled otherwise, and this
Court is bound by that ruling. Karsjens v. Piper,
845 F.3d 394, 410-11 (8th Cir. 2017). Further, the Court
agrees with Magistrate Judge Leung that a challenge to the
fairness of the state judiciary as a whole, especially one
that relies solely on innuendo and supposition, is not well
taken. The Court will not presume that Minnesota state judges
are anything less than fair and unbiased, as their judicial
oath requires. Thus, the R&R's conclusion that
Stabnow must bring his claims to the state courts in the
first instance is correct.
also contends that commitment to MSOP is punishment in
violation of his double-jeopardy rights, and moreover is
cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. (Obj. ¶ 7.d.) He describes the alleged unfair
treatment that underlies his contentions, but it appears that
this treatment is the subject of a separate lawsuit and is
included only to illustrate what Stabnow contends are
unconstitutional conditions at MSOP. (See Docket No.
17 ¶ 19.) But even taken as true, the treatment Stabnow
describes does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment
violation. See Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298
(1991) (“[O]nly those deprivations denying ‘the
minimal civilized measure of life's necessities,' are
sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment
violation.”) (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452
U.S. 337, 347 (1981)). Whether the conditions violate the
Minnesota constitution is a matter for the state courts to
determine, and this challenge, too, must be first presented
to the state courts before Stabnow can seek federal relief.
Stabnow has not established that he is entitled to a
certificate of appealability on his claims. Stabnow has not
“made a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).
Thus, no certificate of appealability will issue.
is required to present his claims to the state courts in the
first instance. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED
1. The Petition (Docket No. 1) and amended Petition (Docket
No. 8) are DENIED and DISMISSED