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Blackshere v. MacLaren

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

June 25, 2015



NANCY G. EDMUNDS, District Judge.

Justin Blackshere, ("Petitioner"), presently confined at the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan, has filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in which he challenges his conviction for two counts of first-degree murder, M.C.L.A. 750.316. For the reasons that follow, the petition for writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.

I. Background

Petitioner was convicted following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court. This 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 convictions arise from the January 2, 2007, stabbing deaths of Mark Barnard and Megan Soroka at Cheli's Chili Bar in Detroit, after which a robbery was staged and more than $8, 000 was stolen from the restaurant's safes.

People v. Blackshere, No. 281463, 2009 WL 794745, * 1 (Mich.Ct.App. March 26, 2009).

Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal, but remanded for modification of the judgment of sentence to reflect two first-degree murder convictions, each supported by two separate theories. Id.; lv. den. 484 Mich. 872, 769 N.W.2d 695 (2009).

Petitioner filed a habeas petition, which was held in abeyance on March 17, 2011, so that petitioner could return to the state courts to exhaust additional claims.

Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment, which was denied. People v. Blackshere, XX-XXXXXX-XX (Wayne County Circuit Court, December 14, 2010). The Michigan appellate courts denied petitioner leave to appeal. People v. Blackshere, No. 307703 (Mich.Ct.App. June 8, 2012) lv. den. 493 Mich. 891, 822 N.W.2d 234 (2012).

The case was subsequently reopened to the Court's docket and petitioner was permitted to file an amended habeas petition adding four additional claims.

Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds contained within his original and amended petitions:

I. The trial court erred by providing (sic) jury with a non-standard instruction on disguised handwriting.
II. The trial court abused its discretion by allowing the prosecutor to introduce graphic and gruesome photos. Whether multiple sentences for felony murder and first degree murder violate double jeopardy.
III. The trial court denied petitioner a fair trial when it erroneously ruled that illegally obtained evidence should not be suppressed because it inevitably would have been discovered.
IV. Petitioner was denied the constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel where counsel failed to request a handwriting expert, failed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the search. Consequently, he failed to present evidence that would demonstrate both that petitioner had standing to challenge the search and that any alleged consent obtained for the search was given by one acting as an agent.
V. Petitioner was deprived of due process by counsel's failure to raise the
issues below which resulted in a deprivation of petitioner's constitutional right to appeal, and to the effective assistance of counsel on appeal.
VI. Where defense counsel had petitioner relinquish his insanity defense his original attorney was prepared to submit counsel denied petitioner a viable defense to the charges of double homicide and petitioner should be granted a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

II. Standard of Review

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 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 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 ...

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