United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of a
petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a
preliminary review of the petition to determine whether
“it plainly appears from the face of the petition and
any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4,
Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see 28 U.S.C.
§ 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed.
Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th
Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to “screen
out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A
dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise
legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual
allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson
v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After
undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court
concludes that the petition must be dismissed because it
fails to raise a meritorious federal claim.
Jerell Chaney Johnson presently is incarcerated at the
Michigan Reformatory. Following a jury trial in the Wayne
County Circuit Court, Petitioner was convicted of
second-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.317,
assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder,
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.84, being a felon in possession
of a firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.224f, and
possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony
(felony firearm), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. On July
1, 2013, Petitioner was sentenced to respective prison terms
of 40 to 80 years, 4 to 10 years, 2 to 5 years, and 2 years.
appealed his convictions and sentences to the Michigan Court
of Appeals, raising the following two issues:
I. DID THE INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE PRESENTED DURING THE
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT'S TRIAL ON THE ELEMENT OF IDENTITY,
TO SUPPORT THE JURY'S VERDICTS OF GUILTY OF ONE COUNT
EACH OF SECOND DEGREE MURDER, ASSAULT WITH INTENT TO DO GREAT
BODILY HARM LESS THAN MURDER (AGBH), FELON IN POSSESSION OF A
FIREARM WHILE INELIGIBLE (FELON IN POSSESSION), AND
POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN THE COMMISSION OF A FELONY (FELONY
FIREARM), CONSTITUTE A DENIAL OF THE DUE PROCESS OF LAW
GUARANTEED BY THE FIFTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES
II. DOES THE SENTENCE OF FROM FORTY YEARS TO EIGHTY YEARS,
IMPOSED PURSUANT TO THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT'S CONVICTION
FOR ONE COUNT OF SECOND DEGREE MURDER, AND TO BE SERVED
CONSECUTIVE TO THE TWO YEAR PRISON TERM IMPOSED PURSUANT TO
HIS CONVICTION FOR FELONY FIREARM, CONSTITUTE A VIOLATION OF
THE GUARANTEE AGAINST CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT PROVIDED
BY THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND THE GUARANTEE AGAINST
CRUEL OR UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT PROVIDED BY THE MICHIGAN
(Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.2) In an unpublished opinion issued
on October 23, 2014, the court of appeals rejected both
appellate grounds and affirmed the convictions and sentences.
(10/23/14 Mich. Ct. App. (MCOA) Op., ECF No. 2-1,
PageID.70-72.) Petitioner sought leave to appeal to the
Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same two issues. The
supreme court denied leave to appeal on April 28, 2015.
filed his habeas petition on or about June 1, 2016, raising
the same two issues presented to and rejected by the Michigan
action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA).
See Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792 (2001). The
AEDPA “prevents federal habeas
‘retrials'” and ensures that state court
convictions are given effect to the extent possible under the
law. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002). The
AEDPA has “drastically changed” the nature of
habeas review. Bailey v. Mitchell, 271 F.3d 652, 655
(6th Cir. 2001). An application for writ of habeas corpus on
behalf of a person who is incarcerated pursuant to a state
conviction cannot be granted with respect to any claim that
was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the
adjudication: “(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 upon an unreasonable determination of the
facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court
proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This standard is
“intentionally difficult to meet.” Woods v.
Donald, 575 U.S. ____, 135 S.Ct. 1372');">135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
AEDPA limits the source of law to cases decided by the United
States Supreme Court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This Court
may consider only the “clearly established”
holdings, and not the dicta, of the Supreme Court.
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000);
Bailey, 271 F.3d at 655. In determining whether
federal law is clearly established, the Court may not
consider the decisions of lower federal courts. Lopez v.
Smith, 135 S.Ct. 1, 3 (2014); Bailey, 271 F.3d
at 655. Moreover, “clearly established Federal
law” does not include decisions of the Supreme Court
announced after the last adjudication of the merits in state
court. Greene v. Fisher, 132 S.Ct. 38 (2011). Thus,
the inquiry is limited to an examination of the legal
landscape as it would have appeared to the Michigan state
courts in light of Supreme Court precedent at the time of the
state-court adjudication on the merits. Miller v.
Stovall, 742 F.3d 642, 644 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing
Greene, 132 S.Ct. at 44).
federal habeas court may issue the writ under the
“contrary to” clause if the state court applies a
rule different from the governing law set forth in the
Supreme Court's cases, or if it decides a case
differently than the Supreme Court has done on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts. Bell, 535 U.S.
at 694 (citing Williams, 529 U.S. at 405-06).
“To satisfy this high bar, a habeas petitioner is
required to ‘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.'” Woods, 2015 WL
1400852, at *3 (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562
U.S. 86, 103 (2011)). In other words, “[w]here the
precise contours of the right remain unclear, state courts
enjoy broad discretion in their adjudication of a
prisoner's claims.” White v. Woodall, 572
U.S.____, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1705 (2014) (quotations marks
the state appellate court has issued a summary affirmance, it
is strongly presumed to have been made on the merits, and a
federal court cannot grant relief unless the state
court's result is not in keeping with the strictures of
the AEDPA. See Harrington, 562 U.S. at 99; see
also Johnson v. Williams, 133 S.Ct. 1088, 1094 (2013);
Werth v. Bell, 692 F.3d 486, 494 (6th Cir. 2012)
(applying Harrington and holding that a summary
denial of leave to appeal by a Michigan appellate court is
considered a decision on the merits entitled to AEDPA
deference). The presumption, however, is not irrebuttable.
Johnson, 133 S.Ct. at 1096. Where other
circumstances indicate that the state court has not addressed
the merits of a claim, the court conducts de novo
review. See Id. (recognizing that, among other
things, if the state court only decided the issue based on a
state standard different from the federal standard, the
presumption arguably might be overcome); see also
Harrington, 562 U.S. at 99-100 (noting that the
presumption that the state-court's decision ...