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Williams v. Rivard

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

July 10, 2015

STEVEN RIVARD, Respondent.


DENISE PAGE HOOD, District Judge.

Michael Jajuan Williams, ("Petitioner"), presently confined at the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 [Docket No. 1, filed January 9, 2015], in which he challenges his convictions for armed robbery, M.C.L.A. 750.529; and felony-firearm, M.C.L.A. 750.227b. 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):

At approximately 7:30 a.m. on August 19, 2011, the supervisor of the CVS Pharmacy located in Brownstown Township was in the store when she felt a gun to her back. A man asked for money. The supervisor went into the office and unlocked the safe, placing the cash in a red CVS bag. The robber became upset when he realized that she did not place the coins in the bag, and he began to dig the coins out of the safe. The robber was wearing mechanic, not winter, gloves that were black on one side and white on the other side. He also had a book bag and sunglasses. The robber handed the supervisor a surge protector and instructed her to tie her own hands, but she was unable. He ripped the phone cord out and tied the supervisor's hands with the cord, ordered her to get under a desk, and instructed her not to follow him. After the robber exited the office, the supervisor jumped up from under the desk, unrolled the cord from her hands, and dialed 911. The robbery was captured on the store's video surveillance system, but the store supervisor could not identify the robber.
The store pharmacist was sitting in the parking lot when he noticed a man leave the store. Despite the fact that it was August, the man was "bundled up" with a hood and sunglasses on. The man jogged toward Telegraph Road and proceeded north and east away from the store. The store cashier advised the pharmacist that the supervisor had just been robbed. Within a minute of seeing the man flee the building, the store employees stopped the police from entering the store parking lot and pointed out the direction the robber had travelled on foot.
A police officer received a radio bulletin that the suspect in the CVS robbery was an African-American male wearing a black hat, dark pants, and a backpack. The officer proceeded toward an apartment complex one-quarter mile from the CVS store where he saw defendant, an individual matching the description of the robber, who was walking fast. Defendant looked in the officer's direction and moved behind an apartment building. The officer drove north past this building, losing sight of defendant for 10 to 20 seconds, and found defendant walking with dark pants and a white shirt. The officer commanded defendant to put his hands up and lay on the ground. Defendant did not comply until additional officers arrived on the scene. In bushes near the apartment building where the officer briefly lost sight of defendant, responding officers found the backpack, hat, and hoodie. They found black and white gloves in defendant's pocket and a multi-color gun in his waistband that was the same gun displayed on the store's surveillance video. They also found the currency and coins missing from the CVS safe. Defendant was convicted as charged.

People v. Williams, No. 310136, 2013 WL 2662354, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. June 13, 2013).

Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. People v. Williams, 495 Mich. 901, 839 N.W.2d 222 (2013).

Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds: (1) Offense Variables 8 and 12 of the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines were improperly scored; (2) petitioner was denied the choice of counsel at trial where trial judge appointed Robert Slameka as trial attorney for the defendant after his retained attorney was indicted on criminal charges and petitioner did not waive his right to choice to counsel when the trial court forced the petitioner to go to trial with Slameka, after petitioner stated on the record that he wishes to proceed along with retained attorney Dunn; (3) the trial court abused its discretion by ruling that the petitioner's arrest was legal where the police lacked probable cause; and (4) The trial court abused its discretion by exposing the jury to petitioner's past drug conviction which was irrelevant, prejudicial, and offered for the sole purpose of showing that petitioner is a bad person.

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 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 in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)

A decision of a state court is "contrary to" clearly established federal law 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 on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). An "unreasonable application" occurs when "a state court decision unreasonably applies the law of [the Supreme Court] to the facts of a prisoner's case." Id. at 409. A federal habeas court may not "issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly." Id. at 410-11. "[A] state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal ...

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