September 6, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Wisconsin. No. 15-CV-880 -William E. Duffin,
Wood, Chief Judge, and Rovner and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
December 2010 a Wisconsin jury found Muhammad Sarfraz guilty
of sexually assaulting I.N., a Pakistani immigrant who, along
with her father, briefly lived with Sarfraz after arriving in
this country in late 2009. At trial I.N. described a violent
assault in which Sarfraz forced his way into her apartment,
strangled her, threatened her with a knife, and raped her.
Abundant physical evidence corroborated her account. Sarfraz
claimed that I.N. consented to the sexual intercourse.
support this defense, Sarfraz sought to introduce evidence
that he and I.N. had previously engaged in consensual sexual
contact while she and her father were living with him. The
trial judge excluded this evidence under Wisconsin's
rape-shield law. On appeal Sarfraz argued that the trial
judge misapplied the rape-shield law and deprived him of his
right to confront the witnesses against him and his right to
present a defense. The state court of appeals reversed the
conviction, State v. Sarfraz ("Sarfraz
I"), 832 N.W.2d 346, 347 (Wis. Ct. App. 2013), but
the Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstated it, reasoning that the
State's interest in excluding the evidence outweighed
Sarfraz's interest in admiting it, State v.
Sarfraz ("Sarfraz II"), 851 N.W.2d
235, 247-48 (Wis. 2014).
sought federal review under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, again
claiming that the judge's rape-shield ruling deprived him
of his confrontation right and his right to present a
defense. A magistrate judge denied relief but certified the
issue for appeal.
affirm. The state supreme court specifically noted but did
not separately analyze Sarfraz's federal constitutional
claims. That brings into play the Richter
presumption, which requires us to treat the decision as an
adjudication on the merits and review it deferentially under
§ 2254(d). Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86,
99 (2011). Applying that standard, we agree with the
magistrate judge that habeas relief is unwarranted. The state
court's decision did not involve an unreasonable
application of federal law.
and her father moved from Pakistan to Milwaukee in December
2009. A family member arranged for them to live temporarily
with Sarfraz, another Pakistani immigrant who worked as a
taxi driver. I.N. and her father stayed at the apartment that
Sarfraz shared with his wife and children for about two and a
half months before moving to their own apartment.
15, 2010, Sarfraz unexpectedly showed up at I.N.'s new
apartment. At trial they gave dramatically different accounts
of what happened that day. I.N. testified that she heard a
knock on the door that morning. She asked who it was, and the
person outside the door answered "Jim, " which was
her landlord's name. She opened the door and saw a masked
man standing in the hallway. He forced his way into the
apartment, pushed her into the bathroom, and began choking
her, saying, "I'll kill you." He then pulled a
knife from his pocket and held it to her neck. I.N. managed
to pull the mask from the man's face and recognized
Sarfraz. At some point during the struggle in the bathroom,
Sarfraz set the knife on the floor. I.N. grabbed it, cutting
her finger in the process, and slashed him on the cheek.
Blood covered the bathroom floor.
took the knife from I.N. and began to choke her again. As she
continued to struggle, Sarfraz tried to hit her, pulled at
her breasts, and eventually tied a handkerchief around her
mouth in an effort to quiet her. He tried to take her into
the bedroom, but she resisted and the two ended up in the
living room. There Sarfraz produced a pornographic DVD he
brought with him and tried to make her watch it. He then
shoved her onto the floor, removed her pants, began to fondle
her genitals, and eventually had forcible vaginal intercourse
with her, all while she continued to resist. At some point
during this ordeal, I.N. scrawled the first few letters of
Sarfraz's last name in blood on a newspaper because she
feared that she would not survive. Immediately after Sarfraz
left, I.N. ran into the hallway and screamed for help.
neighbor testified that his wife heard a commotion in
I.N.'s apartment, and when he went to investigate, he saw
I.N. standing in the hallway bloodied and naked from the
waist down, screaming that she had been raped. He called 911.
physical evidence introduced at trial supported I.N.'s
account. In a search of her apartment, the police found a
newspaper-and also a file cabinet-bearing the letters
"S-A-R" written in blood, as well as a pornographic
DVD. Officers recovered a bloody knife from Sarfraz's
taxicab; forensic testing revealed the presence of DNA
matching both I.N. and Sarfraz. Immediately after the attack,
I.N. was examined by a sexual-assault nurse. The nurse noted
that she had cuts on her finger and ankle, injuries to her
vaginal area consistent with trauma, and tenderness at the