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Weinhaus v. Precythe

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

October 4, 2017

JEFFREY WEINHAUS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANNE L. PRECYTHE, TROY STEELE, JOSHUA DAVID HAWLEY, STEVEN M. PELTON, and COLONEL SANDRA K. KARSTEN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DAVID D. NOCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This action is before the court on the motions to dismiss of defendants Steven Pelton (Doc. 12) and defendant Joshua David Hawley (Doc. 14). Plaintiff opposes both motions and seeks leave in the alternative to amend his complaint. (Docs. 16-18). The parties have consented to the exercise of plenary authority by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         On October 10, 2013, plaintiff Jeffrey Weinhaus was convicted by a Franklin County Circuit Court jury of felony possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana, first-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, and armed criminal action. State v. Jeffrey R. Weinhaus, 12AB-CR02409-01 (Oct. 10, 2013).

         On November 25, 2013, he was sentenced to 2 years for the felony possession, 1 year for the misdemeanor possession, 30 years for the first-degree assault, and 30 years for the armed criminal action, with all sentences to be served concurrently. State v. Jeffrey R. Weinhaus, 12AB-CR02409-01 (Nov. 25, 2013). He is presently incarcerated in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

         On November 27, 2013, plaintiff appealed the conviction and sentencing, which the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed in January 2015, issuing its mandate on May 4, 2015. State v. Weinhaus, 459 S.W.3d 916 (Mo.Ct.App. 2015), reh'g and/or transfer denied (Mar. 11, 2015), transfer denied (Apr. 28, 2015), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 125 (2015), reh'g denied, 136 S.Ct. 881 (2016).

         On May 11, 2015, after the denial of his direct appeal, plaintiff filed a motion for post-conviction relief under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15, alleging several grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Jeffrey R. Weinhaus v. State of Missouri, 15AB-CC00117 (May 11, 2015). On November 12, 2015, without a hearing, the Circuit Court denied relief. Jeffrey R. Weinhaus v. State of Missouri, 15AB-CC00117 (Nov. 12, 2015). Plaintiff timely filed a notice of appeal. Jeffrey R. Weinhaus v. State of Missouri, 15AB-CC00117 (Dec. 21, 2015).

         On appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief, plaintiff argued that his counsel was ineffective for failing to call several witnesses, including a crime scene expert, FBI agents who were allegedly present at the scene of the crime, an individual named Levi Weinhaus who could have testified about plaintiff's gun-carrying habits, and a video expert. Weinhaus v. State, 501 S.W.3d 523, 528-30 (Mo.Ct.App. 2016). On October 18, 2016, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the Circuit Court's denial, issuing its mandate on November 9, 2016. Id.

         On July 10, 2017, plaintiff Weinhaus commenced this action to vacate his state court convictions, alleging that his convictions and sentences violate his constitutional rights. The relief he seeks by this judicial action is stated generally thus:

103. Weinhaus brings this action for Declaratory Relief based on the extensive, numerous and repeated violations of his Constitutional Rights under the Constitution of the United States of America, and as applicable under the Constitution of the State of Missouri for the purpose of vacating his conviction and regaining his freedom.

(Doc. 1, at ¶ 103). More specifically, plaintiff alleges that the state court proceedings violated his rights under the following laws: the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, and, generally, the Constitution of Missouri. For each of these specific claims, plaintiff seeks the following relief in identical language:

137. Therefore, Plaintiff requests that this court exercise its authority to order the state of Missouri to vacate the judgment and conviction of Weinhaus on the grounds that the conviction is a product of a violation of his rights under the U.S. Constitution, and as applicable the Missouri State Constitution, to order Weinhaus' immediate release, and to grant any other relief that this court finds necessary and appropriate in the interest of justice, including a retrial.

(Id. at ¶¶ 137, 149, 171, 175, 181, 213, and 225). In his conclusion, plaintiff prays for the following relief regarding the entire action:

         PRAYER FOR RELIEF

Jeffrey Weinhaus, requests that this court grant the relief requested, that he be set free of the confines and control of the ERDCC and the State of Missouri, and that the trial and conviction under which his incarceration is based be vacated as a violation of his Rights under the Federal and State Constitutions, that the State be barred from further prosecution of Weinhaus on the grounds alleged in the criminal complaint, and other relief that ...

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