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Lang v. Warren

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

June 22, 2015

TIFFANY NICOLE LANG, Petitioner,
v.
MILLICENT WARREN, Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S APPLICATION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN, Senior District Judge.

Petitioner Tiffany Nicole Lang, confined at the Huron Valley Women's Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, has filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in which she challenges her convictions for first-degree child abuse, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.136b(2), and torture, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.85. For the reasons stated below, the Court shall deny the petition.

I. Background

Petitioner was found guilty but mentally ill following a bench trial in Muskegon County Circuit Court. The Michigan Court of Appeals recited the relevant facts as follows:

A. THE CHILD'S INJURIES
Destiny Sherrod, Lang's sister, testified that on August 24, 2010, she discovered that Lang had cut off all of her hair when she returned to the apartment that she, Lang, and Lang's three- to four-week-old infant son shared. When Sherrod confronted Lang about cutting her hair, Lang became agitated. Sherrod asked Lang to let the infant sleep with her for the evening because she was concerned for his wellbeing, and she went to bed.
Officer Chad Dejong testified that Lang called the police because a man was at her home and was refusing to leave. According to Officer Dejong, Lang appeared to be calm when he arrived, and she described the incident. As he was about to leave to search for the suspect, Lang started to cry and stated that she had hit her child, but then immediately denied hitting him and explained that the infant had fallen on the floor and hit his head. Officer Dejong saw a large, swollen spot on the infant's head and burn marks on the infant's thigh. He called an ambulance.
Sherrod testified that she woke when Officer Dejong arrived. At that time, she was not aware that the infant was injured. Officer Dejong testified that Sherrod came up behind Lang and made a hand-gesture at her head to indicate that Lang was crazy. Sherrod and Officer Dejong stepped into a hallway, and Sherrod asked Officer Dejong to send Lang to Community Mental Health. Sherrod testified that Lang had been previously committed to a mental health hospital and often had auditory and visual hallucinations. Sherrod testified that Lang believed that she had a microchip in her head and that everyone was against her. Officer Dejong testified that Lang did not appear to be suffering from hallucinations.
Dr. N. Debra Simns testified that the infant had skull fractures that she believed were caused by strong force trauma, subgaleal hematomas on both sides of his head where blood had collected between his skull and his brain, fractured femurs below both kneecaps, and a fractured right tibia. Dr. Simns testified that the infant also had fractured ribs that appeared to be 7 to 14 days old, and had a partially healed pattern of injuries surrounding his genitals that were possibly burns. Dr. Simns testified that the injuries did not appear accidental.
B. LANG'S CONFESSIONS
Trish Nesbitt, a registered nurse who worked at the hospital that admitted the infant, testified that Lang told her that she had swung the infant against a closet door five or six times, attempted to suffocate him, and performed fellatio on him. Nesbitt believed that Lang was in touch with reality when she made those statements. Bonnie Wood, a social worker, testified that Lang made similar statements to her and did not appear to be suffering from hallucinations at that time.
Dr. Mark Ydenburg, a physician working in the emergency room, testified that Lang first told him that she had accidentally dropped the infant while exiting the bath, but eventually she admitted that she had swung him by his legs into a closet door several times and had attempted to suffocate him. He testified that Lang did not appear to be psychotic, delusional, or suffering from hallucinations.
Officer Dejong testified that he spoke with Lang at the hospital, and she agreed to be committed to a mental health facility. He testified that if she had not agreed, he would have committed her involuntarily. Officer Dejong testified that he spoke with Lang at the mental health facility from about 11:30 A.M. until noon, during which time she gave a videotaped confession.
C. EVIDENCE CONCERNING LANG'S INSANITY DEFENSE
Dr. Catherine Jawor, a psychiatrist for Community Mental Health, testified that she spoke with Lang from about 10:50 to 11:30 A.M. on the morning that she was committed. Dr. Jawor testified that Lang denied having any delusions or hallucinations, and denied that she felt like she had a microchip in her head. Dr. Jawor diagnosed Lang as suffering from mood and social anxiety disorders, but she did not believe that Lang was having hallucinations.
Dr. Margot Gilbert, a clinical psychologist, interviewed Lang on October 28, 2010. Dr. Gilbert testified that Lang told her that she had a microchip in her head that controlled her behavior and she had attempted to kill her infant son because he also had a microchip in his head and she did not want him to grow up in this world. Dr. Gilbert testified that she believed that Lang was not suffering from psychosis and could have controlled her behavior if she chose to.
Dr. Joseph J. Auffrey, a clinical psychologist, testified that he interviewed Lang on November 4, 2010. Dr. Auffrey diagnosed Lang as suffering from depression, personality disorders, and paranoid schizophrenia. According to Dr. Auffrey, Lang believed that she was controlled by an outside device. Dr. Auffrey believed that Lang could control her behavior in general, but was operating under a psychotic event and did not appreciate the wrongfulness of her conduct at the time that she struck the infant against a door. Dr. Auffrey ...

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