United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kenneth Perkins is civilly committed in the custody of the
Missouri Department of Mental Health, having been found by a
jury to be a sexually violent predator under Missouri’s
Sexually Violent Predator Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. §§
632.480, et seq. He brings this petition for writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, arguing that his
judgment and commitment under the Act was unconstitutionally
obtained. I will deny the petition.
22, 2004, Perkins pled guilty to one count of child
molestation first degree. He received a suspended imposition
of sentence and was placed on supervised probation for three
years. Perkins’ probation was revoked on April 15,
2005, and he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
to Perkins’ scheduled release in March 2010, the State
petitioned the Circuit Court of Dent County, Missouri, to
civilly commit Perkins as a sexually violent predator (SVP)
under the Act. (Resp. Exh. B at 14-16.) The matter went to
trial and, in November 2012, a Dent County jury found Perkins
to be an SVP. The court entered judgment on November 7, 2012,
and Perkins was committed to the custody of the Missouri
Department of Mental Health. The Missouri Court of Appeals
affirmed this judgment and commitment on August 13, 2014.
(Resp. Exh. E.)
signed this federal habeas petition on August 19, 2014, and
deposited it in the prison mailing system that same date. The
petition was received by this Court and filed on September 2,
original petition for writ of habeas corpus, Perkins raises
two grounds for relief: 1) that there was insufficient
evidence for the jury to find that he met the statutory
definition of an SVP, and 2) that the State attorney’s
closing argument violated his right to due process. In
February 2015, Perkins raised an additional claim that the
Act is overbroad in that it wrongfully permits first
offenders to be adjudged an SVP without providing them an
opportunity to demonstrate that intervention would deter
re-offending (see ECF #14).
response, respondent argues that I should defer to the
decision of the Missouri Court of Appeals and find the claims
raised in Perkins’ original petition to be without
merit. Respondent has not addressed Perkins’ additional
habeas review is available to challenge a State court order
of civil commitment, even though the order was not the result
of a criminal conviction. Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S.
167, 176 (2001). Courts have regularly reviewed civil
commitment proceedings relating to the involuntary commitment
of sex offenders under State statutes, see Poole v.
Goodno, 335 F.3d 705 (8th Cir. 2003); Linehan v.
Milczark, 315 F.3d 920 (8th Cir. 2003), and this Court
has applied habeas corpus analysis to claims challenging
civil commitments under Missouri’s Sexually Violent
Predator Act. See, e.g., Fogle v. Blake, 4:06 CV 900
RWS (AGF), 2006 WL 3469613 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 29, 2006),
adopted by, 2006 WL 3792627 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 20,
2006); Jones v. Blake, No. 4:06 CV 402 ERW (DDN),
2008 WL 4820788 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 5, 2008).
order to obtain federal habeas review of a claim raised in a
§ 2254 petition, the petitioner must have first raised
the federal constitutional dimensions of the claim in State
court in accordance with State procedural rules. Duncan
v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364 (1995) (per curiam); Beaulieu
v. Minnesota, 583 F.3d 570, 573 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Gilmore v. Armontrout, 861 F.2d 1061, 1065 (8th Cir.
1988)). If the petitioner failed to properly present the
claim in State court, and no adequate non-futile remedy is
currently available by which he may bring the claim in that
forum, the claim is deemed procedurally defaulted and cannot
be reviewed by the federal habeas court “unless the
[petitioner] can demonstrate cause for the default and actual
prejudice as a result of the alleged violation of federal
law, or demonstrate that failure to consider the claims will
result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice.”
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991);
see also Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1, 10-11 (2012).
the State court adjudicated a claim on the merits, federal
habeas relief can be granted on the claim only if the State
court adjudication “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); or “was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding,” 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d)(2). See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362,
379 (2000). The federal law must be clearly established at
the time petitioner’s State conviction became final,
and the source of doctrine for such law is limited to the
United States Supreme Court. Id. at 380-83.
court’s decision is “contrary to” clearly
established Supreme Court precedent when it is opposite to
the Supreme Court’s conclusion on a question of law or
different than the Supreme Court’s conclusion on a set
of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams, 529
U.S. at 412-13; Carter v. Kemna, 255 F.3d 589, 591
(8th Cir. 2001). A State court’s decision is an
“unreasonable application” of Supreme Court
precedent if it “identifies the correct governing legal
principle from [the Supreme Court’s] decisions but
unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the
prisoner’s case.” Williams, 529 U.S. at
413. Merely erroneous or incorrect application of clearly
established federal law does not suffice to support a grant
of habeas relief. Instead, the State court’s
application of the law must be objectively unreasonable.
Id. at 409-11; Jackson v. Norris, 651 F.3d
923, 925 (8th Cir. 2011). Finally, when reviewing whether a
State court decision involves an “unreasonable
determination of the facts” in light of the evidence
presented in the State court proceedings, a federal court
must presume that State court findings of basic, primary, or
historical facts are correct unless the petitioner rebuts the
presumption with clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(e)(1); Rice v. Collins, 546 U.S. 333,
338-39 (2006); Collier v. Norris, 485 F.3d 415, 423
(8th Cir. 2007). Erroneous findings of fact do not ipso
facto ensure the grant of habeas relief. Instead, the
determination of these facts must be unreasonable in light of
the evidence of record. Collier, 485 F.3d at 423;
Weaver v. Bowersox, 241 F.3d 1024, 1030 (8th Cir.
“bound by the AEDPA [Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act] to exercise only limited and deferential review
of underlying state court decisions.” Lomholt v.
Iowa, 327 F.3d 748, 751 (8th Cir. 2003). To obtain
habeas relief, Perkins must show that the challenged State
court ruling “rested on ‘an error well understood
and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for
fairminded disagreement.’” Metrish v.
Lancaster, 569 U.S. 351,, 133 S. Ct. 1781, ...