Krueger v. Meisner

Decision Date20 November 2015
Docket Number13-cv-879-slc
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Wisconsin
PartiesMACAULAY T. KRUEGER, Petitioner, v. MICHAEL MEISNER, Warden, Red Granite Correctional Institution, Respondent.
OPINION and ORDER

On December 30, 2013, State inmate Macaulay T. Krueger filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his state court convictions in Sheboygan County Case Nos. 10CF307 and 10CF358. See dkt. 1. The state has filed an answer (dkt. 15), and both sides have filed briefs (dkts. 18, 33 & 34). On November 4, 2015, the parties consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction over this case and the case was reassigned to me that same day. See dkts. 49-52.

Having read the pleadings, the briefs and the records from the state court proceedings, I conclude that petitioner has failed to establish that the state court of appeals unreasonably applied federal law or made an unreasonable determination of fact in rejecting his claims and affirming his convictions. Accordingly, I am dismissing the petition.

BACKGROUND

Macaulay T. Krueger was charged in Sheboygan County Case Nos. 10CF307 and 10CF385 with three counts of causing a child under the age of 13 to view sexually explicit content, in violation of Wis. Stat. § 948.055. The underlying facts and procedural history of the charges were summarized by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals:

Krueger was convicted following a jury trial of three counts of causing a child under thirteen to view sexually explicit conduct. The charges stemmed from two separate cases that were consolidated for trial.
In the first case, Krueger was accused of twice exposing himself to Tyler W. when Tyler was eleven years old. On the first occasion, Krueger put a condom on his own erect penis in front of Tyler. On the second occasion, Krueger masturbated in front of Tyler.
In the second case, Krueger was accused of exposing himself to Megan H. when Megan was eleven years old. The exposure in that case again involved Krueger putting a condom on his own penis in front of Megan.
The cases first went to trial on November 9, 2010. During direct examination in the State's case-in-chief, Tyler disclosed new details about his contact with Krueger that were not included in the discovery materials from the State. Accordingly, Krueger's counsel moved for a mistrial based upon the prejudicial nature of the new details. The circuit court agreed with counsel and granted a mistrial on both cases.
After the State provided defense counsel with additional discovery materials concerning Tyler's disclosure, Krueger's counsel moved to dismiss both cases on double jeopardy grounds. The circuit court denied the motion in an oral ruling.
The cases proceeded to trial again on December 16 and 17, 2010, at which time the jury found Krueger guilty of all three counts. The circuit court subsequently imposed an aggregate sentence of eight years of initial confinement and twelve years of extended supervision.

State v. Krueger, 2013 WI App 55, ¶¶ 2-7, 347 Wis. 2d 549, 830 N.W.2d 722.

After sentence was imposed, Krueger discharged his appointed attorney and filed several pro se motions for postconviction relief. He argued, among other things, that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) his double jeopardy rights were violated; and (3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court rejected all of Krueger's arguments.

On direct appeal, still proceeding pro se, Krueger re-asserted his claims of insufficient evidence and double jeopardy, he challenged the severity of his sentence and argued that the circuit court erred in denying his postconviction motions based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Krueger alluded to a number of other errors, including perjury, "Judicial Misruling" and "Corruption of the District Attorney's office, Judge, and court reporter." The Wisconsin Court of Appeals declined to address Krueger's challenge to his sentence for procedural reasons, but rejected his remaining claims, affirming the conviction in an unpublished opinion. See State v. Krueger, 2013 WI App 55, 347 Wis. 2d 549, 830 N.W.2d 722. Thereafter, the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied Krueger's petition for review.

Krueger filed another motion for postconviction relief in circuit court. The circuit court denied the motion on the grounds that Krueger was attempting to re-litigate claims that already had been rejected. Krueger appealed this decision, but later withdrew his appeal.

In his federal habeas corpus petition, Krueger contends that he is entitled to relief on the following grounds, several of which overlap: (1) judicial bias/prejudice; (2) discriminatory prosecution; (3) violation of his Miranda rights; (4) the evidence against him was insufficient to support his conviction; (5) the conduct at issue was "not sexually explicit"; (6) prosecutorial misconduct; (7) double jeopardy; (8) perjury; and (9) judicial misrulings.1 Petition, dkt. 1, at 5-15.

OPINION
I. Habeas Corpus Standard of Review

To the extent that Krueger's claims were addressed on the merits by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Krueger must show that the state court's adjudication "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." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). A state court's decision is deemed contrary to clearly established federal law if it reaches a legal conclusion in direct conflict with a prior decision of the Supreme Court or reaches a different conclusion than the Supreme Court based on materially indistinguishable facts. See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404-08 (2000). A state court unreasonably applies clearly established precedent if it identifies the correct governing legal principle but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the case. See Brown v. Payton, 544 U.S. 133, 141 (2005).

The standard outlined in § 2254(d)(1) is exacting and "highly deferential," Burt v. Titlow, ___ U.S. ___, 134 S. Ct. 10, 15 (2013), requiring that state courts be given "the benefit of the doubt." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 131 S. Ct. 770, 786 (2011). Relief is authorized only in cases "where there is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's decision conflicts with [Supreme Court] precedents." Richter, 131 S. Ct. at 786. To prevail, "a state prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on the claim being 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." Richter, 131 S. Ct. at 786-87. In addition to the "formidable barrier" posed by this standard, Titlow, 134 S. Ct. at 16, the petitioner bears the burden of rebutting the state court's factual findings "by clear andconvincing evidence." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). Alternatively, a petitioner must show that the state court's adjudication of the claim "resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the [s]tate court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2).

II. Sufficiency of the Evidence/Sexually Explicit Conduct

Krueger argues that the evidence against him was insufficient to support a conviction for the charged offense because the conduct at issue was not sexually explicit. Under the due process clause, "no person shall be made to suffer the onus of a criminal conviction except upon sufficient proof—defined as evidence necessary to convince a trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of every element of the offense. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 316 (1979). When evaluating after trial whether this standard has been met, " the relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. (emphasis in original, citation omitted). Challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence raised in a § 2254 petition are therefore subject to a "double dose" of deferential review: the federal court must defer to the state court, which in turn must defer to the jury. Coleman v. Johnson, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 2060, 2062 (2012) (per curiam). Such challenges rarely succeed.

Using a standard that mirrors Jackson v. Virginia, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals considered Krueger's arguments and found that there was ample evidence to support his conviction on three counts of causing a child under 13 to view sexually explicit conduct:

In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction, this court may not substitute its judgment for that ofthe jury unless the evidence, viewed most favorable to the State and the conviction, is so lacking in probative value and force that no trier of fact, acting reasonably, could have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Poellinger, 153 Wis. 2d 493, 507, 451 N.W.2d 752 (1990). If any possibility exists that the jury could have drawn the appropriate inferences from the evidence adduced at trial to find the requisite guilt, this court may not overturn a verdict even if we believe that the jury should not have found guilt based on the evidence before it. Id.
To convict a person of causing a child under thirteen to view sexually explicit conduct, the State is required to prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) the defendant caused the child to view sexually explicit conduct; (2) that act was intentional; (3) the child was under thirteen years of age; and (4) the defendant acted with the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying himself or herself. See Wis JI—Criminal 2125; Wis. Stat. § 948.055 (2009-10).[]
With respect to the charges involving Tyler, the evidence supports the jury's verdicts as to the first three elements discussed above. According to both Tyler and
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