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Boles v. Romanowski

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

July 20, 2015

ANTHONY BOLES, Petitioner,


DAVID M. LAWSON, District Judge.

Petitioner Anthony Boles, a Michigan prisoner, seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging that his convictions for two counts of larceny in a building, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.360, are unconstitutional. He says his Sixth Amendment rights were violated because he was denied the assistance of competent counsel, and his Fifth Amendment rights were violated because he was questioned by police without first being given the warnings required by Miranda v. Arizona . The respondent has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should be denied. Because the petitioner's trial attorney performed competently, and no evidence was introduced at trial that offended the Fifth Amendment, the petition will be denied.


The petitioner committed larcenies at businesses in Saginaw County, Michigan in 2008. The Michigan Court of Appeals summarized the facts of the case on direct appeal as follows:

On September 9, 2008, Jennie Sumner, a surgical assistant for two oral surgeons, saw a male walk out of the surgeons' interior office and leave the building through a back door. The man drove away in a "black older style Lincoln, Cadillac type" vehicle. After the man left, it was discovered that $300 from an employee's purse, a laptop, and a cellular telephone were missing.
On September 13, 2008, Ellen Haelein, an employee of Angela's flowers, heard the store's delivery door open. After she heard the delivery door "close again, " Haelein walked to the back room. She did not see anybody, but she noticed that her purse was gone. The contents of her purse included a digital camera, eyeglasses, and $180. That same day, Michael Westendorf, an employee of Barewood Furniture, and Kim Gregory, owner of Spartan Pools, encountered a man in a backroom of the respective businesses. The man drove away from Barewood Furniture and Spartan Pools in a black Cadillac.
A police officer observed a 1995 Cadillac at a party store near Spartan Pools; the driver of the vehicle was defendant. Haelein's digital camera and eyeglasses were found in the Cadillac, and Haelein's purse was found in a nearby dumpster. In addition, the tread of the shoes defendant was wearing matched shoeprints left at Spartan Pools. Defendant was driven to Spartan pools for "identification or elimination." Gregory identified defendant as the man he saw in the store's backroom.

People v. Boles, No. 296684, 2011 WL 2555363, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. June 28, 2011).

The petitioner was charged by Saginaw County, Michigan authorities with two counts of larceny in a building and one count of conducting a criminal enterprise. It appears that one item of evidence offered to establish the criminal enterprise was the petitioner's conviction of breaking and entering the Wakeman Funeral Home in 2006. The petitioner had pleaded no contest to that crime. There is no evidence that the 2006 burglary was related to the 2008 crimes.

A jury convicted the petitioner of those three counts. On direct appeal, however, the court vacated the criminal enterprise conviction, finding insufficient evidence. In addition, the petitioner presented the same claims found in the present habeas petition. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the two convictions of larceny in a building. People v. Boles, 2011 WL 2555363. The petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court raising the same claims presented here. The court denied leave to appeal, but remanded for resentencing on the larceny in a building convictions. People v. Boles, 490 Mich. 913, 805 N.W.2d 434 (2011). On remand, the trial court resentenced the petitioner as a fourth habitual offender to concurrent terms of 3 years 10 months to 15 years imprisonment. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed those sentences. People v. Boles, No. 309564, 2013 WL 331659 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2013).

The petitioner timely filed his federal habeas petition. As noted, he raises claims concerning the effectiveness of trial counsel and his privilege against self-incrimination and Miranda rights. The respondent opposes the petition contending that the claims lack merit and do not warrant federal habeas relief.


The provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (Apr. 24, 1996), which govern this case, "circumscribe[d]" the standard of review federal courts must apply when considering an application for a writ of habeas corpus raising constitutional claims, including claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. See Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003). Because Boles filed his petition after the AEDPA's effective date, its standard of review applies. Under that statute, if a claim was adjudicated on the merits in state court, a federal court may grant relief only if the state court's adjudication "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 if the adjudication "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)(1)-(2). "Clearly established Federal law for purposes of § 2254(d)(1) includes only the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme] Court's decisions." White v. Woodall, ___ U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "As a condition for obtaining habeas corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011).

The distinction between mere error and an objectively unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent creates a substantially higher threshold for obtaining relief than de novo review. The AEDPA thus imposes a highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, and demands that state-court decisions be "given the benefit of the doubt." Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (finding that the state court's rapid declaration of a mistrial on grounds of jury deadlock was not unreasonable even where "the jury only deliberated for four hours, its notes were arguably ambiguous, the trial judge's initial question to the foreperson was imprecise, and the judge neither asked for elaboration of the foreperson's answers nor took any other measures to confirm the foreperson's prediction that a unanimous verdict would not be reached" (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)); see also Dewald v. Wriggelsworth, 748 F.3d 295, 298-99 (6th Cir. 2014); Bray v. Andrews, 640 F.3d 731, 737-39 (6th Cir. 2011); Phillips v. Bradshaw, 607 F.3d 199, 205 (6th Cir. 2010); Murphy v. Ohio, 551 F.3d 485, 493-94 (6th Cir. 2009); Eady v. Morgan, 515 F.3d 587, ...

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