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King v. Smith

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 16, 2017

MARIO KING, Petitioner,
v.
JUDY SMITH, Respondent.

          ORDER

          J.P. Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.

         Mario King (“King”) was found guilty of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to deliver at a jury trial in July 2013. (Docket #11-4 at 7-8). On October 16, 2013, King was sentenced to a term of fifteen years imprisonment. Id. at 6. King filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus on August 9, 2016. (Docket #6). The respondent opposed the petition on January 13, 2017, and King submitted his reply on February 10, 2017. (Docket #14 and #15). For the reasons explained below, the petition will be denied.

         1.BACKGROUND

         The Court of Appeals opinion succinctly states the background for this matter, so this Court will quote its opinion at length:

The State of Wisconsin charged King, an Illinois resident, with conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to deliver. According to the complaint, King sold a large quantity of cocaine to a Wisconsin resident who travelled to Chicago to obtain the cocaine. King moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. King argued that his only involvement in the alleged conspiracy occurred in Illinois. The court denied the motion, and King was bound over for trial.
At trial, the State presented evidence of the following. In the summer of 2009, police in Green Lake County, Wisconsin, received a tip that Emil Craig Burmeister [(“Craig”)] was dealing cocaine in the area. As part of the investigation into Burmeister's activities, police received information that King was involved. King and Burmeister are friends, and have known each other since 2006. Burmeister travelled to Chicago approximately every two weeks and obtained cocaine.
On August 9, 2009, Burmeister and his wife [(“Etheena”) (collectively, the “Burmeisters”)] drove from Green Lake County to Chicago to meet with King. In Chicago, King facilitated the sale of a large volume of cocaine to Burmeister. Burmeister was arrested after he returned to Green Lake County, and police recovered 615 grams of cocaine from Burmeister's car. There was testimony that such quantity is inconsistent with personal use. Additionally, Burmeister had in his car a calculator, four cell phones, and an envelope with abbreviations and numerical amounts, indicating orders for cocaine and amounts that had been paid. Burmeister admitted that he intended to distribute the cocaine to others, and pled guilty to drug charges.
At the close of the State's evidence, King moved for a directed verdict. He argued that there was no evidence of an agreement between King and Burmeister as to Burmeister's intent to deliver the cocaine to other parties. The circuit court denied the motion. The jury found King guilty and the circuit court entered a judgment of conviction. King appeals.

State v. King, 862 N.W.2d 903 (Table), 2015 WL 1235360 at *1 (Wis. Ct. App. 2015). For reasons explained more fully below, the Court of Appeals affirmed King's conviction on March 19, 2015. Id. at *4. On August 5, 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to review that decision. (Docket #6-1 at 32).

         2. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “Section 2254(a) permits a federal court to entertain only those applications alleging that a person is in state custody ‘in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.'” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a)). “As amended by [the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)], 28 U.S.C. § 2254 sets several limits on the power of a federal court to grant an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a state prisoner.” Id. As a result, the Court may grant a writ of habeas corpus only if the state court's decision with respect to that claim was: (1) “contrary to…clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States”; (2) “involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States”; or (3) “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1-2); see also Conner v. McBride, 375 F.3d 643, 648-49 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing Green v. Johnson, 116 F.3d 1115, 1121 (5th Cir. 1997)).

         3. ANALYSIS

         King's petition attempts to state three grounds for relief, but two of those grounds present the same legal basis and so will be treated together. The first is that the Wisconsin state court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate his crime because the drug transaction occurred in Illinois. (Docket #1 at 3). The second (grounds two and three from the petition) asserts that Wisconsin did not present evidence sufficient to support his conviction. Id. at 3-4. The Court addresses the claims in reverse order.

         3.1 Sufficiency ...


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