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Lovett v. Warren

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 22, 2015

QUIANA LOVETT, #779728, Petitioner,
v.
MILLICENT WARREN, Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (Dkt. 1), DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY AND DENYING PERMISSION FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

MARK A. GOLDSMITH, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner Quiana Lovett, currently confined at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Dkt. 1), in which she challenges her conviction of second-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.317. As a result of her conviction, Petitioner is currently serving a sentence of 16-to-30 years. The petition raises two claims: (i) the trial court erroneously admitted evidence regarding prior acts of domestic violence committed by Petitioner, and (ii) Petitioner's confession was involuntary. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies the petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Court also declines to issue a certificate of appealability, and denies permission for leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

II. BACKGROUND

Petitioner was convicted following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court. The Court recites verbatim the relevant facts relied upon by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which are presumed correct on habeas review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). See Wagner v. Smith , 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009).

Defendant's conviction arises from the February 20, 2010, fatal stabbing of her fiance, Brian Woods, in their Detroit home. Evidence indicated that the couple was hosting a small gathering at their home when an argument erupted between Woods, his brother, and defendant. Woods asked everyone to leave his home, including his brother, who warned Woods to "watch out" because defendant had a knife in her hand. Thereafter, defendant and Woods argued about defendant's demeanor toward Woods's brother. According to defendant, the argument progressed to a physical altercation. Defendant testified that Woods choked her to the point that she could hardly breathe and that she grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed him once in the chest in self-defense. A few hours after the incident, defendant gave a statement to the police in which she admitted to getting mad and stabbing Woods, but she did not mention that Woods had choked her or was physically aggressive in any manner.

People v. Lovett, No. 300454, 2012 WL 516054, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 16, 2012).

Following her conviction and sentence, Petitioner appealed by right, raising the following claims in the Michigan Court of Appeals:

i. The admission of a plethora of unfairly prejudicial evidence about other acts of domestic violence allegedly committed by Ms. Lovett deprived her of a fair trial, where the trial court neglected to conduct the required balancing under MRE 403.
ii. Due process was violated by the admission of Ms. Lovett's confession, which was involuntarily rendered just two hours after the traumatic event, while she was very intoxicated, and under the duress of the officer's coercive techniques.

Appeal at 25, 32 (cm/ecf pages) (Dkt. 6-15). The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's conviction in an unpublished opinion. Lovett, 2012 WL 516054, at *5.

Petitioner subsequently filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claims as in the Michigan Court of Appeals (Dkt. 6-16). The Michigan Supreme Court denied the application because it was not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by the Court. People v. Lovett , 820 N.W.2d 802 (Mich. 2012).

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, imposes the following standard of review for habeas cases:

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 ...

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