United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
RALPH H. JURJENS, III, Petitioner,
MIKE DITTMAN, Respondent.
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ralph H. Jurjens, III is currently in the custody of the
Wisconsin Department of Corrections at the Columbia
Correctional Institution. He seeks a writ of habeas corpus
under § 28 U.S.C. 2254, challenging his state-court
conviction following an incident in which he broke into the
home of a woman with whom he had been in a relationship and
beat her in front of two children. Jurjens's petition is
now fully briefed and ready for a decision.
reviewed Jurjens's petition and allow him to proceed on
five claims: (1) he did not make a knowing and intelligent
plea; (2) his Sixth Amendment rights were violated when the
trial court did not allow him to proceed pro se; (3) his
original trial-court counsel was ineffective; (4) his third
trial-court counsel was ineffective; and (5) he was given an
unconstitutionally excessive sentence. Almost all of his
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel-claims are interrelated
with his claim that he did not make a knowing and intelligent
plea. Jurjens also presents what he calls new evidence
showing that he was actually innocent of the
burglary-to-commit-battery charge, and he seeks to have the
court either consider the evidence as part of a new claim.
considering the parties' submissions, I conclude that
none of Jurjens's claims merit habeas relief, including
his claim relating to new evidence. Accordingly, I will deny
the following facts from the petition, briefs, and
state-court records. Jurjens's habeas petition concerns
his conviction in La Crosse County Case No. 2010-CF-188. As
recounted by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, see State v.
Jurjens, No. 2012AP562-CRNM, 2013 WL 12183508 (Wis. Ct.
App. Oct. 28, 2013), the criminal complaint stated that
Jurjens broke a window to enter the home of Kimberly Maass, a
woman with whom he had a prior relationship. He beat and
threatened to stab Maass in front of her two children, one of
whom was his child as well. He beat his teenage niece and
broke her cell phone when she attempted to call 911. Jurjens
later wrote to Maass, attempting to influence her
was charged with ten counts. After a plea deal, he was
convicted of five: child abuse, damage to property in a
domestic-abuse situation, intimidation of a victim in a
domestic-abuse situation, intimidation of a witness, and
burglary to commit a battery, all as a habitual criminal. The
other five charges-recklessly endangering safety, battery,
criminal trespass, causing mental harm to a child, and
intimidating a witness-were dismissed and read in as part of
the plea agreement. The trial court imposed consecutive
sentences totaling 27 years of initial confinement in prison,
followed by 18 years of extended supervision. Dkt. 15-1.
moved to withdraw his guilty plea and the trial court held an
evidentiary hearing on the motion. Jurjens focused on
challenging the effectiveness of Attorney Thomas Huh, his
first of three attorneys in the trial court, on the ground
that he failed to convey an earlier plea offer to Jurjens.
The court rejected this challenge and reaffirmed the
conviction. Dkt. 15-5.
direct appeal, Jurjens's appointed counsel filed a
no-merit appeal, which Jurjens contested. The Wisconsin Court
of Appeals addressed Jurjens's request to withdraw his
plea, reviewed the transcript of the plea hearing, and
concluded that there was no arguable basis for withdrawal.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals also concluded that “no
other arguable basis for reversing the judgment of
conviction” existed, and “any further appellate
proceedings would be wholly frivolous.”
Jurjens, 2013 WL 12183508, at *3. Jurjens filed a
motion for reconsideration that was denied by the court of
appeals. Dkt. 15-3. The Wisconsin Supreme Court summarily
denied Jurjens's petition for review. Dkt. 15-4.
seeks federal habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. §
2254. During the pendency of his petition, Jurjens obtained
an affidavit from Maass, stating that the Jurjens lived in
her home at the time of incident. Jurjens asks the court to
consider this new evidence in deciding his habeas petition,
contending that it shows that he did not commit burglary.
discussing the merits of the habeas petition, I will address
a preliminary matter. The parties submitted a form in which
they both consent to a magistrate judge hearing the case.
Dkt. 14. Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), the district court
may refer a case to a magistrate judge when all parties agree
to do so. But the court retains discretion to retain
jurisdiction over a case even when both sides consent to a
magistrate judge's jurisdiction. I see no reason to
transfer the case to Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker,
particularly given that I have already reviewed materials in
this case twice, in screening the petition under Rule 4 and
in denying Jurjens's previous motion to expand the record
with the Maass affidavit. So I will deny the parties'
Review under § 2254(d)
court's authority to issue habeas corpus relief for
persons in state custody is governed by 28 U.S.C. §
2254, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996. Section 2254(d) states:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless
the adjudication of the claim-
(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;
(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.
court may issue a writ under the “contrary to”
clause of § 2254(d)(1) if the state court applies a rule
different from the governing law set forth in Supreme Court
cases, or if it decides a case differently than the Court has
on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams
v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). The court may
grant relief under the “unreasonable application”
clause if the state court correctly identifies the governing
legal principle from Supreme Court opinions but unreasonably
applies it to the facts of the particular case. Id.
standard places a high burden on the petitioner. Metrish
v. Lancaster, 133 S.Ct. 1781, 1786 (2013) (“This
standard . . . is ‘difficult to meet.'”
(quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102
(2011))). “Clearly established law” must be set
out in the holdings of Supreme Court decisions. White v.
Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014). “[A]n
‘unreasonable application of' those holdings must
be ‘objectively unreasonable,' not merely wrong;
even ‘clear error' will not suffice.”
Id. (quoting Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S.
63, 75-76 (2003)). Rather, “[a] state court's
determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal
habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded jurists could
disagree' on the correctness of the state court's
decision.” Richter, 562 U.S. at 101 (quoting
Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)).
relevant state-court decision for this court's review is
the opinion issued by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, because
it was the last state court to review the merits of
Jurjens's claims. Stevens v. McBride, 489 F.3d
883, 902 n.2 (7th Cir. 2007).
main focus of Jurjens's claims is that his plea was not
knowing, intelligent, and voluntary because of a host of
defects in his proceedings, including ineffective assistance
of counsel and the court's failure to warn him that he
was waiving his ability to appeal various non-jurisdictional
defects in the proceedings.
starting point, I conclude that the court of appeals relied
upon the correct constitutional standard when assessing the
voluntariness of the plea. The court cited Wisconsin
authorities discussing the voluntariness of pleas.
Jurjens, 2013 WL 12183508, at *1 (citing Wis.Stat.
§ 971.08; State v. Hoppe, 2009 WI 41, ¶
18, 317 Wis.2d 161, 765 N.W.2d 794; State v.
Bangert, 131 Wis.2d 246, 266-74, 389 N.W.2d 12 (1986)).
The state standards are sometimes stated in terms that sound
more expansive than what is constitutionally required, but
courts have acknowledged that “the Wisconsin standard
that a plea must be knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily
entered is the same as the constitutional due process
standard.” Warren v. Baenen, 712 F.3d 1090,
1102 (7th Cir. 2013). Other courts have determined that this
is sufficient to place a petitioner's claims under §
2254(d) review, see Collins v. Meisner, No.
11-C-620, 2012 WL 2814140, at *8 (E.D. Wis. July 9, 2012)
(“the court of appeals identified the correct
constitutional standard” by citing to Bangert);
Tyler v. Berge, No. 04-C-525-C, 2004 WL 3091176, at *5
(W.D. Wis. Dec. 17, 2004) (“The state courts relied
heavily on [Bangert], which adopted these constitutional
standards in the context of a state court guilty
plea.”); see also Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3,
8 (2002) (noting that § 2254(d) does not require
citation to United States Supreme Court cases, or even an
awareness of them, “so long as neither the reasoning
nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts
satisfy due process, a guilty plea must be knowingly,
voluntarily, and intelligently entered. See, e.g., Parke
v. Raley, 506 U.S. 20, 28-29 (1992); Brady v. United
States, 397 U.S. 742, 747-48 (1970); Boykin v.
Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 242 (1969). To enter a voluntary
and intelligent plea, a defendant must have: (1) full
awareness of the plea's “direct consequences,
” Brady, 397 U.S. at 755; (2) “real
notice of the true nature of the charge against him, ”
Henderson v. Morgan, 426 U.S. 637, 645 (1976); and
(3) an understanding of “the law in relation to the
facts, ” McCarthy v. United States, 394 U.S.
459, 466 (1969).
a plea was entered knowingly and voluntarily is determined
from all of the relevant circumstances surrounding the plea.
Brady, 397 U.S. at 749. Guilty pleas “are
accorded a great measure of finality.” Blackledge
v. Allison,431 U.S. 63, 71 (1977). As a result, the
defendant bears the burden of proving that the plea he
entered was involuntary or ...