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Carroll v. Warren

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

February 12, 2015

MARIA CARROLL, Petitioner,
v.
MILLICENT WARREN, Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

GEORGE CARAM STEEH, District Judge.

Petitioner Maria Carroll filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. Carroll is a state prisoner in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections pursuant to convictions for possession with intent to deliver between 450 grams and 1, 000 grams of cocaine, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and possession of marijuana. She argues that her conviction was obtained in violation of her constitutional rights because she received ineffective assistance of trial counsel and her sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Respondent argues that the claims are meritless. The Court finds that habeas relief is not warranted and denies the petition.

I. Background

Carroll's convictions arise from the execution of a police search warrant of her home in Pontiac. Following a joint trial with co-defendant Roy Portis before separate juries, she was convicted as set forth above. The Michigan Court of Appeals described the circumstances leading to Carroll's convictions as follows:

In the master bedroom, the officers found a digital scale with cocaine residue, a corner tie plastic bag containing more than three grams of marijuana, and a pipe on top of a dresser. A Metro PCS cellular telephone was also on the dresser.[1] The top drawer of the dresser contained 14 loose nine-millimeter rounds, an empty nine-millimeter shell box, and a Metro PCS receipt in the name of "William Sullivan" that corresponded with the cellular telephone found on top of the dresser.[2] In the top drawer of a nightstand, the officers discovered 12 individually wrapped rocks of cocaine. On top of another nightstand was an opened Ajax false bottom can that contained two corner tie bags of crack cocaine; one bag had one rock of cocaine and the other had 13 individually wrapped rocks of crack cocaine. Inside that nightstand were several forms of correspondence to defendants Portis and Carroll. "Just inside" the bedroom closet, the officers found a nine-millimeter highpoint rifle with eight rounds in the magazine that were consistent with ammunition found in the dresser drawer. A brick of cocaine in a gallon-size Ziploc bag wrapped in duct tape and a corner tie bag containing three individually wrapped rocks of cocaine were also in the closet.
Large male clothing, along with size 13 male shoes, and petite female clothing were found in the master bedroom. According to one of the officers, the large male clothing was consistent with defendant Portis's quite larger physique and the petite female clothing was consistent with defendant Carroll's smaller size. In the pocket of a 5XL sweatshirt, the officers found a corner tie of crack cocaine. A framed photo of defendant Portis sat on top of one of the dressers.

People v. Carroll, No. 286422, 2009 WL 3837339, *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 17, 2009).

Carroll filed a direct appeal of her conviction, raising these claims: (i) counsel was ineffective in failing to object to admission of counsel-less inculpatory statement and in questioning police witnesses regarding the statement; and (ii) sentence violates the ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentences. Id.

Carroll filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claims raised in the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. People v. Carroll, 779 N.W.2d 819 (Mich. 2010).

Carroll then filed the pending habeas petition. She raises these claims:

I. Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial where counsel failed to object to the admission of a counsel-less inculpatory statement, brought out by counsel for the co-defendant, and then questioned police witnesses extensively regarding the statement where the defense presented was that the Petitioner was unaware of the co-defendant's criminal drug distribution enterprise.
II. The 115 month to thirty year sentence, imposed pursuant to Petitioner's conviction of one count of possession with the intent to deliver between 450 and 1, 000 grams of cocaine, to be served consecutive to the two year sentence imposed pursuant to her conviction for possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, constitute a violation of the guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment provided by the Michigan Constitution.

II. Standard

Review of this case is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). Under the AEDPA, a state prisoner is entitled to a writ of habeas corpus only if he can show ...


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