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Maier v. Tegels

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

May 2, 2018

DONALD W. MAIER, Petitioner,
v.
LIZZIE TEGELS, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          BARBARA B. CRABB DISTRICT JUDGE

         In 2006, petitioner Donald W. Maier was convicted of making threats to two state court judges. Five years later, after he had been released from custody, he sent two letters to each of the ten persons who had served as jurors in the 2006 case, asking them to help him secure a pardon and expressing negative opinions about his treatment in the prison system. After some of those jurors complained to law enforcement about the letters, the state charged petitioner with stalking, in violation of Wis.Stat. § 940.32(1)(a)7. He was found guilty after a jury trial and sentenced to a term of 15 years' imprisonment and 12 years of extended supervision.

         Petitioner appealed from his sentence, but was unsuccessful in the state courts. He now moves for relief in federal court, challenging the constitutionality of his conviction, the state's failure to show that he had the requisite intent to threaten the persons who received his letters, the sufficiency of the evidence, the jury instructions and the adequacy of the representation provided by his counsel. Because his claim has been adjudicated on the merits in the state courts, his motion cannot be granted unless he can show that the previous adjudication of his claim “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). Despite his counsel's vigorous advocacy, petitioner has not shown that the decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in his case meets the criteria for reversal. This is not surprising; the standard for federal court reversal of state court convictions is “difficult to meet.” Harrington v. Richter, 526 U.S. 86, 102 (2011). Section 2254(d) “preserves authority to issue the writ in cases where there is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's decision conflicts with this court's precedents; it goes no further.” Id.

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner Maier is serving a 27-year sentence imposed on him after he was convicted of six charges of being a repeat “stalker, ” in violation of Wis.Stat. § 940.32. He was found guilty of the charges in 2012, after a jury found he had intentionally sent copies of two different letters on two different days to each of six persons who had served as jurors in his 2006 criminal trial. The jury found also that the receipt of the letters would have caused a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and did cause serious emotional distress to the recipient. (Petitioner sent letters to a total of 13 former jurors, but the letters to three of them were returned to him as undeliverable and the jury found that four of the former jurors had not found the letter intimidating.)

         The state circuit court imposed separate sentences on petitioner for each conviction of two and one-half years of confinement plus two years of extended supervision, giving petitioner a total sentence of 15 years in prison plus 12 years of extended supervision.

         The first of the two letters petitioner sent included materials related to pardons, as well as a seven-page handwritten questionnaire directed to the jurors that began with a statement:

Jury Duty is Not Over.
I did 2 years in prison and because of the power Judge Zappen had I got skrewed. Now I'm going for a Pardon with the Governor's office. And I will need your help.

         A number of question followed, including,

1. Do you think Wood County did a Professional Job? Such as keeping your Name's and addresses from someone like me?
Yes___or No___
Note you good people help poor Judge Zappen put me in prison. Real good people in there.
2. Can I give this list o[f] Jurors to the people I had to live with?
Yes___ or No___
3. Did you know Judge Zappen was harassing me and threaten me?
8. Did you know I had a 50, 000 volt zapper on my arm to control what I might say to you?
12. If you were harassed by the police[, ] threaten[ed] and harassed by the Wood County DA and Judge Zappen[.] Also Judge Mason and many more.
[And] You ended up in a Mental ins. and than 2 years in prison on a corrupt trial.
How much money would that be worth ...

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