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Hill v. Warren

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

November 1, 2016

Naykima Tinee Hill, Petitioner,
Milicent Warren, Respondent.


          JUDITH E. LEVY United States District Judge.

         Naykima Tinee Hill (Petitioner) has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, through her attorney Gerald M. Lorence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In her application, Petitioner challenges her conviction of three counts of armed robbery, M.C.L.A. § 750.529, and one count each of first degree home invasion, M.C.L.A. § 750.110a(2), extortion, M.C.L.A. § 750.213, and unlawful imprisonment, M.C.L.A. § 750.349b. For the reasons stated below, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was convicted following a jury trial in the Saginaw 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). See Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009).

On the morning of March 7, 2007, Sherry Crofoot and her 13 year-old daughter, Samantha, were at their home on Cleveland Street in Saginaw. With them was Sherry's grandmother, Florence Karien. Samantha answered a knock at the door to find a black woman wearing a brown coat with a fur-trimmed hood standing on the porch. The woman, who was swaying and appeared disoriented, asked to use the Crofoots' phone and for a ride, both of which Sherry refused. When Sherry attempted to close the door, the woman pushed her way in, knocking Sherry back into the room. Inside the house, the woman punched Karien several times in the face, and then pulled Sherry into the bedroom. Grabbing a knife, the woman threatened Sherry with it and demanded money. Samantha brought her Karien's purse, and some money of her own. Eventually, the woman left the home.

People v. Hill, Case No. 290031, 2010 WL 1873105, at *1 (Mich. App. May 11, 2010).

         Petitioner's conviction was affirmed in part and reversed in part on appeal. Id. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed and reinstated Petitioner's conviction. People v. Hill, 489 Mich. 881 (2011).

         Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds. First, Petitioner argues that the trial court violated the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment by admitting hearsay testimony from a witness whom the prosecutor failed to produce at trial, and that the Michigan Supreme Court was in error in finding that admission of the testimony was harmless error. Second, Petitioner argues that the trial court violated her Sixth Amendment right to present a defense by denying her motion to appoint an expert witness on eyewitness identification. In so doing, the trial court allegedly abused its discretion. Third, Petitioner argues that she was denied effective assistance of counsel, in pre-trial and trial matters, by counsel's erroneous and outcome-determinative mistakes, which prejudiced her and her Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial. Finally, Petitioner argues that she was denied effective assistance of counsel at the appellate level because counsel failed to raise significant claims in her appeal as of right to the Michigan Court of Appeals. (Dkt. 1 at 17.)


         Section 2254(d) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) prohibits a court from granting habeas relief “with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication” resulted in a decision that (1) “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court, ” or (2) “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 state court decision is contrary to clearly established law “if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in” Supreme Court cases or “if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [its] precedent.” Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 73 (2003). An unreasonable application of clearly established law occurs when a state court's application of the law is “objectively unreasonable.” Id. at 75- 76. To meet this standard, a court may not rely only on “its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied [the law] erroneously or incorrectly.” Id.

         Under AEDPA's “highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, ” a federal court must presume “that state courts know and follow the law.” Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002). “Even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011). Rather, “a state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision.” Id. at 101 (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). Thus, “a habeas court must determine what arguments or theories supported or . . . could have supported, the state court's decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior decision” of the Supreme Court. Id. at 102. Habeas relief is not appropriate unless each ground that supported the state court's decision is examined and found to be unreasonable under the AEDPA. See Wetzel v. Lambert, ___ U.S.___, 132 S.Ct. 1195, 1199 (2012).


         A. Claim One: ...

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