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Arthur v. Haas

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

October 14, 2016

CHARLES HENRY ARTHUR, Petitioner,
v.
RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This is a habeas case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Charles Henry Arthur, (Petitioner), is a state inmate sentenced to terms of life in prison for armed robbery, M.C.L.A. 750.529, assault with intent to murder, M.C.L.A. 750.83, kidnapping, M.C.L.A. 750.349, and carjacking, M.C.L.A. 750.529a; ten to twenty years for extortion, M.C.L.A. 750.213; three to five years for felon in possession of a firearm, M.C.L.A. 750.224f, and carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, M.C.L.A. 750.226; and two years for felony-firearm, M.C.L.A. 750.227b. Petitioner, though counsel, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus claiming that he was denied his right to self-representation and denied his right to a fair trial because he was placed in leg shackles during his trial.

         Respondent, through the Attorney General's Office, filed a response contending that Petitioner's claims lack merit. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be denied.[1]

         II. Procedural History

         Petitioner was originally convicted in 2006, following a jury trial in the Saginaw County Circuit Court. Petitioner appealed, contending in part that the trial court improperly denied him the right to represent himself. The Michigan Court of Appeals, 2-1, affirmed Petitioner's conviction. The dissenting judge believed that Petitioner properly invoked his right to self-representation. People v. Arthur, No. 273577, 2008 WL 239627 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2008).

         In lieu of granting leave to appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' opinion on the issue of self-representation and remanded the matter to the trial court for a new trial. People v. Arthur, 481 Mich. 882 (2008).

         On remand, Petitioner moved to represent himself. The trial court granted the request. Petitioner then requested that his leg shackles[2] be removed so he could move around the courtroom. The trial court denied the request for security reasons. As a result, Petitioner opted to abandon his right to represent himself and proceeded to a new trial with appointed counsel. During the retrial, Petitioner's counsel renewed the objection to the use of leg shackles several times. The trial court overruled the objections, again citing security concerns. Petitioner was again found guilty.

         Petitioner appealed. The Michigan Court of Appeals, in a split decision, reversed Petitioner's conviction, holding that the use of leg shackles rendered Petitioner's right to represent himself illusory and amounted to a de factor denial of his right to self representation. The court of appeals further found that the use of the leg shackles violated his right to due process. The dissent argued that the record fully supported the trial court's decision to use leg shackles. The dissent noted that the trial court had presided over four separate criminal proceedings against Petitioner, involving 25 charges against Petitioner including two first degree murder charges. The dissent also noted that the record showed a documented history of Petitioner challenging the security of the court. People v. Arthur, No. 301762, 2012 WL 2402048 (Mich. Ct. App. June 26, 2012).

         In lieu of granting leave to appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and remanded the matter to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing regarding the decision to keep Petitioner in leg shackles during the trial. The trial court was directed to articulate with particularity the reasons for requiring Petitioner to wear shackles at trial. The trial court was further ordered to receive evidence and make findings of fact regarding whether the physical restraints were justified and whether those restraints were visible to any jurors, either during jury selection or afterward. The Michigan Supreme Court also retained jurisdiction. People v. Arthur, 493 Mich. 935 (2013).

         On remand, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing at which it took testimony from the twelve jurors and the one alternate juror. The trial court then issued a decision making the following findings of fact:

• All twelve jurors who deliberated to verdict in this matter, and one alternate juror, testified at the evidentiary hearing held March 13, 2013.
• No juror testified at the hearing held March 13, 2013 that they saw the Defendant in leg shackle restraints during jury selection.
• No juror testified at the hearing held March 13, 2013 that they saw the Defendant in leg shackle restraints during trial itself.
• Defendant's leg shackle restraints were not visible to any juror during jury selection or trial.

See Doc 5-45, 4/9/13, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, at p. 2.

         The trial court further concluded that leg restraints were justified in Petitioner's case based on flight concerns as evidenced by Petitioner's conduct while incarcerated and the need for security concerns in light of ...


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