United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Samba Soumare has filed a pro se petition for a writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He challenges a
judgment of conviction entered on January 31, 2017 by the
Circuit Court for Racine County, Wisconsin, for uttering a
forgery and attempted theft, in No. 2017CF702. The petition
is before this court for screening pursuant to Rule 4 of the
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. Rule 4 requires the court
to examine the petition and supporting exhibits and dismiss a
petition if it “plainly appears” that petitioner
is not entitled to relief. See also 28 U.S.C. §
2243 (habeas court must award writ or order respondent to
show cause why writ should not be granted, unless application
makes it clear that petitioner is not entitled to relief).
After reviewing the petition and relevant state court
records, I conclude that the petition must be dismissed
because petitioner is raising a state law claim that cannot
provide him federal habeas relief.
convictions were based on his participation in a “black
money scam, ” in which petitioner and two others
attempted to fraudulently obtain money from a man by
persuading him that stacks of banknote-sized black
construction paper were actually United States currency that
had been covered in black coating to avoid detection by
authorities. Petitioner and his accomplices sought $10, 000
to assist them in “washing off” the black
coating. The man alerted police to the scheme, and they
subsequently arrested petitioner and his accomplices.
Petitioner was convicted after a jury trial of both uttering
a forgery and attempted theft. He was sentenced to a total of
four years of initial confinement and three years of extended
supervision. He filed a direct appeal, but his convictions
were upheld by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
federal habeas petition, petitioner challenges only his
conviction for uttering a forgery. He contends that black
construction paper cannot be considered a forged writing
under Wisconsin's forgery statute, Wis.Stat. §
943.38, because it does not, on its face, look like genuine
money. This is the same claim he raised unsuccessfully on his
direct appeal. In particular, petitioner argued on his direct
appeal that to qualify as a forgery under Wisconsin's
forgery statute, the forged object must look genuine. He
argued that because black construction paper does not look
like money, it does count as a forged object or writing under
the statute. The court of appeals rejected the argument,
concluding that petitioner's interpretation of the
statute was not supported by the language of the statute or
Wisconsin case law. State v. Soumare, 2017AP1267
(Wis. Ct. App. Mar. 14, 2018).
cannot challenge the Wisconsin Court of Appeals' decision
in a federal habeas petition because the decision was based
on the court of appeals' interpretation of a state
statute. A federal habeas court cannot correct errors of
state law. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68
(1991) (“[I]t is not the province of a federal habeas
court to reexamine state-court determinations on state-law
questions. In conducting habeas review, a federal court is
limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.”); Arnold v. Dittmann, 901 F.3d 830,
835 (7th Cir. 2018) (“[E]rrors of state law are not
cognizable on habeas review.”). Because petitioner has
identified no basis for relief besides his claim that the
state courts' interpreted the Wisconsin forgery statute
too broadly, his petition must be dismissed.
only matter remaining for discussion is whether to issue a
certificate of appealability pursuant to Rule 11(a) of the
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. A court may issue a
certificate of appealability only if the applicant makes a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.
28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). The standard for making a
“substantial showing” is whether
“reasonable jurists could debate whether (or, for that
matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved in
a different manner or that the issues presented were adequate
to deserve encouragement to proceed further.” Slack
v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
petition should not proceed further. No. reasonable jurist
would disagree that petitioner has identified only a state
law error for which he cannot obtain habeas relief from the
federal court Therefore, petitioner is not entitled to a
certificate of appealability.
ORDERED that the federal habeas corpus petition filed by
Samba Soumare is DENIED and this case is DISMISSED with
prejudice. A certificate of appealability is DENIED. If
petitioner wishes, he may seek a ...