Stabnow v. Lourey
DOCUMENT FILED IN ERROR - WILL REFILE - MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: The Court ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation 19 of the Magistrate Judge. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 1. The Petition 1 and Amended Petition 8 are DENIED and DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJ UDICE; 2. Petitioner's Motion for Summary Judgment 14 is DENIED; and 3. A certificate of appealability will not issue. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY. (Written Opinion) Signed by The Hon. Paul A. Magnuson on 10/11/2019. (LLM) Modified text on 10/11/2019 (MMP).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Robert Lee Stabnow,
Civ. No. 19-1539 (PAM/TNL)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DHS Commissioner’s Officer,
This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of
Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung dated September 23, 2019. In the R&R, Magistrate Judge
Leung recommends denying Petitioner’s Motion for Summary Judgment, and dismissing
the Petition and Amended Petition without prejudice as to one claim and with prejudice as
to another. Petitioner filed timely objections to the R&R.
This Court must review de novo any portion of an R&R to which specific objections
are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); D. Minn. L.R. 72.2(b). After conducting the required
review and for the following reasons, the Court ADOPTS the R&R. (Docket No. 19.)
Petitioner Robert Lee Stabnow is currently committed to the Minnesota Sex
Offender Program (“MSOP”).
As recounted in the R&R, he has challenged his
commitment several times in state court. (R&R at 2.) The instant federal Petition seeks a
declaratory judgment vacating his commitment for violations of his constitutional rights.
The R&R concluded that, to the extent Stabnow challenges his initial commitment
order, that challenge is time-barred. (R&R at 4.) To the extent Stabnow challenges the
state court’s most recent decision regarding his commitment, the R&R recommended
dismissal of that challenge without prejudice for failure to exhaust remedies. (Id. at 9.)
Stabnow’s objections make clear that he does not challenge his initial commitment
proceeding, but rather he believes the laws governing his commitment are unconstitutional
both facially and as applied to him. (Obj. (Docket No. 20) at ¶ 7.j; ¶ D.15.)
Underlying Stabnow’s claims is his belief that he cannot receive a fair hearing
regarding his commitment in state court because state judges are elected and thus are
politically motivated to be biased against MSOP detainees. (Id. ¶ 7.a.) This bias allegedly
extends to the legislative and executive branches of state government, which prevents
Stabnow “from receiving a fair and unbiased review of his commitment under the discharge
process outlined in [Minnesota] law.” (Id. ¶ 7.e.) Thus, he argues that the Court should
not require him to exhaust his state-court remedies.
To the extent Stabnow contends that the Minnesota civil commitment statute is
unconstitutional, either as applied to him or on its face, the Eighth Circuit has ruled
otherwise, and this Court is bound by that ruling. Karsjens v. Piper, 845 F.3d 394, 410-11
(8th Cir. 2017). Further, the Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Leung that a challenge to
the fairness of the state judiciary as a whole, especially one that relies solely on innuendo
and supposition, is not well taken. The Court will not presume that Minnesota state judges
are anything less than fair and unbiased, as their judicial oath requires. Thus, the R&R’s
conclusion that Stabnow must bring his claims to the state courts in the first instance is
Stabnow also contends that commitment to MSOP is punishment in violation of his
double-jeopardy rights, and moreover is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the
Eighth Amendment. (Obj. ¶ 7.d.) He describes the alleged unfair treatment that underlies
his contentions, but it appears that this treatment is the subject of a separate lawsuit and is
included only to illustrate what Stabnow contends are unconstitutional conditions at
MSOP. (See Docket No. 17 ¶ 19.) But even taken as true, the treatment Stabnow describes
does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation. See Wilson v. Seiter, 501
U.S. 294, 298 (1991) (“[O]nly those deprivations denying ‘the minimal civilized measure
of life’s necessities,’ are sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment
violation.”) (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981)). Whether the
conditions violate the Minnesota constitution is a matter for the state courts to determine,
and this challenge, too, must be first presented to the state courts before Stabnow can seek
Finally, Stabnow has not established that he is entitled to a certificate of
appealability on his claims. Stabnow has not “made a substantial showing of the denial of
a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). Thus, no certificate of appealability will
Stabnow is required to present his claims to the state courts in the first instance.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
The Petition (Docket No. 1) and amended Petition (Docket No. 8) are
DENIED and DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE;
Petitioner’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 14) is DENIED;
A certificate of appealability will not issue.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Dated: October 11, 2019
s/ Paul A. Magnuson
Paul A. Magnuson
United States District Court Judge
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