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Readous v. Woods

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division

October 20, 2016

JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.



         This is a habeas corpus petition brought by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Timothy Greeley, who issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) on July 21, 2016, recommending that this Court deny the petition. (ECF No. 9.) The matter is before the Court on Petitioner's objections to the R&R. (ECF No. 10.)

         This Court is required to make a de novo review upon the record of those portions of the R&R to which specific objections have been made, and may accept, reject, or modify any or all of the magistrate judge's findings or recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); see also Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995) (“[A] general objection to a magistrate's report, which fails to specify the issues of contention, does not satisfy the requirement that an objection be filed. The objections must be clear enough to enable the district court to discern those issues that are dispositive and contentious.”).

         Petitioner filed two objections. First, he objects to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that counsel's performance was not deficient or prejudicial. Second, Petitioner objects to his offense-variable scoring. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on the merits of both.

         I. Standard of Review

         When a petitioner's claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state court, § 2254(d) provides that a habeas petition shall not be granted 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 on an unreasonable determination of facts in light of the evidence presented in the state-court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2554(d)(1)-(2).

         This Court may only consider the clearly established holdings of the Supreme Court when analyzing Petitioner's claim under § 2254(d). Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000). A state-court decision may only be overturned if: (1) it applies a rule contradicting Supreme Court governing law; (2) it contradicts a set of facts materially indistinguishable from a Supreme Court decision; (3) it unreasonably applies correct Supreme Court precedent to the facts of the case; (4) it unreasonably extends Supreme Court legal principles where it should not apply; or (5) it unreasonably refuses to extend Supreme Court legal precedent where it should apply. Bailey v. Mitchell, 271 F.3d 652, 655 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404-409 (2000)). This Court defers to state-court decisions when the state court addressed the merits of Petitioner's claim. Harris v. Stovall, 212 F.3d 940, 943 (6th Cir. 2000). The state court's factual findings are presumed to be correct but may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

         The Supreme Court has set forth a two-prong test to evaluate claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 (1984). Petitioner must prove: (1) that counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness; and (2) that counsel's deficient performance prejudiced the defendant resulting in an unreliable or fundamentally unfair outcome. Id. A court considering a claim of ineffective assistance must “indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Id. at 689. Petitioner bears the burden of overcoming this presumption. Id. Moreover, when a federal court reviews a state court's application of Strickland under § 2254(d), the review is “doubly” deferential. Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 105 (2011) (citing Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111, 123 (2009)). A federal court must determine “whether there is any reasonable argument that counsel satisfied Strickland's deferential standard.” Id.

         II. Analysis

         Petitioner argues that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective in three ways: (1) counsel failed to file a motion to suppress the victim's in-court identification which resulted from an unduly suggestive single-photo show up; (2) counsel failed to call an expert on cell-tower technology; and (3) counsel failed to request a DNA analysis on extension cords seized from the crime scene.

         The factual findings of the Michigan Court of Appeals are presumed correct, and Petitioner has not rebutted the findings with clear and convincing evidence. The Michigan Court of Appeals found that there were eight factors supporting an independent basis for the victim's identification, including a prior relationship with or knowledge of Petitioner, so any challenge would have been futile. (ECF No. 7-8, PageID.526.) It also found that, based on the facts in the record, there was no reason to believe that a cell-tower expert would have testified that Petitioner was not in Detroit when he called his sister or Jeffrey Monaghan. (Id. at PageID.526-27.) Finally, it found that Petitioner had not shown that his trial counsel's failure to request DNA testing was outcome-determinative. (Id. at PageID. 527.) ...

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