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Riley v. Weber

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

September 21, 2017

JAMES DUANE RILEY, Petitioner,
v.
DOUGLAS WEBER, MIKE DURFEE STATE PRISON, SPRINGFIELD, SD; and MARTY JACKLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Respondents.

          ORDER

          JEFFREY L. VIKEN, CHIEF JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner James Duane Riley, an inmate at the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield, South Dakota, filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Docket 16). The matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Judge Duffy issued a report recommending the court dismiss Mr. Riley's habeas petition with prejudice. (Docket 32 at p. 66). Mr. Riley timely filed his objection. (Docket 34).

         The court reviews de novo those portions of the report and recommendation which are the subject of objections. Thompson v. Nix, 897 F.2d 356, 357-58 (8th Cir. 1990); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court may then “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Mr. Riley's objection is overruled and the report and recommendation is adopted in full.

         PETITIONER'S OBJECTION

         Mr. Riley's objection to the report and recommendation is limited to Claim 3 of the amended petition. (Docket 34 at p. 1). Petitioner's objection is that his “right to due process was violated when he was convicted on insufficient evidence. . . . [And] [t]he magistrate erred in finding that the South Dakota Supreme Court's decision was not objectively unreasonable.” Id. at pp. 1 & 5.

         ANALYSIS

         Petitioner acknowledges the magistrate judge “correctly noted the applicable legal standards for federal review of a state court conviction being challenged on insufficiency grounds.” Id. at p. 1 (referencing Docket 32 at p. 59) (“When a federal court reviews a sufficiency of the evidence claim as to a state court conviction, the appropriate standard to apply is ‘whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.' ”) (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 & 324, (1979) (emphasis in original). Petitioner also acknowledges the magistrate judge “correctly noted the deference given to the underlying state court determination that the evidence in a particular case was sufficient to sustain the conviction.” Id. at p. 2 (referencing Docket 32 at p. 60) (“[W]hen a federal habeas court reviews a state court decision, it may not overturn that decision rejecting a sufficiency of the evidence challenge simply because the federal court disagrees with the state court. The federal court instead may do so only if the state court decision was ‘objectively unreasonable.' ”) (citing Coleman v. Johnson, 566 U.S. 650, 132 S.Ct. 2060, 2062 (2012) (some internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Mr. Riley claims the magistrate judge “erred in applying these principals to the facts of the case.” Id. at p. 2.

         Mr. Riley was convicted by a jury in state court of count I of a two-count indictment charging “possession of child pornography in violation of SDCL 22-24A-3(3).” South Dakota v. Riley, 841 N.W.2d 431, 434-35 (S.D. 2013) (“Riley I”). Count I was associated with what the court identified as “the full video, ” and Count II was associated with “the partial video.” Id. at 435. The jury failed to reach a verdict as to Count II. Id.

         The magistrate judge noted the South Dakota Supreme Court found the prosecution “relied entirely on circumstantial evidence to convict Mr. Riley of possessing the [full] video.” (Docket 32 at p. 62) (referencing Riley I, 841 N.W.2d at 436) (“Here, the State presented no direct evidence that Riley possessed the full video, but rather relied on circumstantial evidence to convict Riley.”). The South Dakota Supreme Court identified the circumstantial evidence presented at trial and the reasonable inferences from the evidence as follows:

[Agent] Kuchenreuther testified that he downloaded the full video from the IP address leased to Riley. Riley I, 841 N.W.2d at 437;
[T]he video file was located in a shared folder within the LimeWire file-sharing program that was using Riley's IP address. Id.;
Riley admitted that he used LimeWire and introduced no evidence that someone else was using his IP address. Id.;
Riley's girlfriend testified that he used LimeWire and that he was the only one who used the computer and the ...

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