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Reed v. Jackson

March 31, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Avern Cohn


I. Introduction

This is a habeas case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner Michael B. Reed, ("Petitioner") is a state prisoner confined at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. Petitioner has filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus raising claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and sufficiency of the evidence issues. Petitioner was convicted of first-degree felony murder, M.C.L. §750.316(1)(b) and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, M.C.L. §750.227b. Petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder conviction and a consecutive two-year term of imprisonment for the felony-firearm conviction. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be denied.

II. Factual Background

Petitioner's conviction arises from the robbery and shooting death of decedent, Guy Colbert, a suspected drug dealer. Petitioner was tried in a joint trial with his co- defendant Edward Brown. However, Petitioner and Brown had separate juries. Brown admitted to law enforcement officials that he committed the crime along with a gentleman by the name of Michael Murray. When the police arrived at the home of where they were told Michael Murray resided, they found Petitioner, Michael Reed, who fit the same physical description provided by Edward Brown.

Petitioner was arrested and taken into custody. He was questioned by the police and ultimately made incriminating statements. Petitioner confessed to participating in Colbert's robbery and murder and informed the police where they could find the murder weapon. Petitioner now claims that his cooperation with the police was coerced and involuntary; he did not read the statements before signing them; and his statements were made because he was promised by the police that he could go home if he cooperated and signed his confession.

III. Procedural History

Following Petitioner's conviction, he filed his Claim of Appeal and then filed a series of motions requesting a new trial and an evidentiary hearing. The issues raised in these motions involved the validity of his arrest without a warrant, the admissibility of his incriminating statements to the police, the insufficiency of the evidence, and his ineffective assistance of counsel. An evidentiary hearing was held over the course of three days. The trial court entered an order denying Petitioner's motion for a new trial on December 9, 2003. Petitioner then filed his brief on appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising the following two claims:

"I. Mr. Reed was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to request an evidentiary hearing or move to suppress two involuntary, incriminating statements made by the defendant during successive custodial interrogations, conducted when Mr. Reed was unlawfully in custody, or the firearm found as the fruit of the unlawful interrogations; and by trial counsel's failure to cross examine at trial the most critical prosecution witness.

II. Mr. Reed's convictions for felony murder and felony firearm must be reversed where the verdicts were against the great weight of the evidence and also were based on insufficient evidence in violation of Mr. Reed's due process rights under US Const Ams V, XIV and Mich Const 1963, Art 1, §§ 17, 20"

Petitioner's conviction was affirmed. People v. Reed, No. 231665, 2004 WL 2412714, (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 28, 2004). Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court and leave was denied. People v. Reed, 474 Mich. 1067 (2006). Petitioner has now filed this habeas petition raising the same two claims presented to the state appellate courts.

IV. Standard of Review

Under 28 U.S.C. §2254(d), a petitioner is not entitled to relief in a federal habeas

corpus proceeding unless the state court's adjudication of his or her due process claim resulted in a decision that: (1) was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law as determined by the United States Supreme Court, or (2) was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.

"Clearly established federal law" means "the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme] Court's decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decision." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000). A state court decision is "contrary to" federal law "if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the Supreme] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Id. at 412-13.

"Under the 'unreasonable application' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court 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." Id. at 413.

V. Analysis

A. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Petitioner claims that his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to: (1) move for the suppression of Petitioner's custodial statements because they were involuntary and coerced; (2) move for the suppression of the murder weapon as it was seized pursuant to an illegal arrest; (3) move for suppression of the inculpatory statements because Petitioner's interrogation was not audio or video taped; and (4) cross-examine one of the interrogating police officers.

To show that Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel under federal constitutional standards, a defendant must satisfy a two-prong test. In Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the United States Supreme Court sets forth the two-pronged test for determining whether a habeas petitioner has received ineffective assistance of counsel. First, a petitioner must prove that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires a showing that counsel made errors so serious that he or she was not functioning as counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687. Second, the petitioner must establish that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. Counsel's errors must have been so serious that they deprived the petitioner of a fair trial or appeal. Id.

With respect to the performance prong, a petitioner must identify acts that were "outside the wide range of professionally competent assistance" in order to prove deficient performance. Id. at 690. The reviewing court's scrutiny of counsel's performance is highly deferential. Id. at 689. The court must recognize that counsel is strongly presumed to have rendered adequate assistance and made all significant decisions in the exercise of reasonable professional judgment. Id. at 690.

To satisfy the prejudice prong under Strickland, a petitioner must show that "there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different" Id. at 694. A reasonable probability is one that is sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome. Id. "On balance, the benchmark for judging any claim of ineffectiveness must be whether counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the ...

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