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Smith v. Jones

May 3, 2010

BRENT SMITH, #378386, PETITIONER,
v.
KURT JONES, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: George Caram Steeh United States District Judge

Honorable George Caram Steeh

OPINION AND ORDER ON REMAND DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

This matter is before the Court on remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Petitioner Brent Smith, presently confined at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson, Michigan, seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons stated, the petition will be denied. The Court also declines to issue a certificate of appealability and leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner originally filed an application for writ of habeas corpus with this Court on July 29, 2005.*fn1 In his application, Smith challenged his convictions for three counts of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree. He was sentenced on each count to a minimum of four years, and a maximum of fifteen years, the sentences to run concurrently. Smith raised the following five claims in his petition: (1) prosecutorial misconduct, (2) ineffective assistance of counsel, (3) insufficient evidence, (4) improper admission of hearsay testimony, and (5) cumulative errors.

On September 25, 2007, this Court granted Smith a conditional writ of habeas corpus on his prosecutorial-misconduct and ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims. Smith v. Jones, No. 05-CV-72971, 2007 WL 2873931 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 25, 2007). Because this Court granted Smith habeas relief on those claims, the Court believed it unnecessary to address Smith's remaining three claims.

On April 10, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed this Court's conditional grant of the writ and remanded the matter for further proceedings. Smith v. Jones, 326 Fed.App'x 324 (6th Cir. 2009), cert. denied --- S.Ct. --- (2010). On remand, this Court will address Smith's remaining claims.*fn2

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) governs habeas corpus review of state court decisions. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) states in pertinent part:

(d) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-(1) 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; or

(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented at the State court proceedings.

Under the "contrary to" clause of § 2254(d)(1), a federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus 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 decided an issue on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). Under the "unreasonable application" clause of § 2254(d)(1), a federal court may grant habeas relief if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from the Supreme Court's decisions, but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts. Id. at 407-08. Relief is also available if the state-court decision unreasonably extends or unreasonably refuses to extend a legal principle from Supreme Court precedent to a new context. Id. at 407; Arnett v. Jackson, 393 F.3d 681, 686 (6th Cir. 2005). The proper inquiry for the "unreasonable application" analysis is whether the state-court decision was "objectively unreasonable." Williams, 529 U.S. at 407; Lordi v. Ishee, 384 F.3d 189, 195 (6th Cir. 2004).

In analyzing whether a state-court decision is "contrary to" or an "unreasonable application" of clearly established Supreme Court precedent, a federal court may only look to the holdings, as opposed to dicta, of the Supreme Court's decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court ...


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