United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S PETITION
FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY OR LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge.
Steven Atkinson, presently on parole supervision through the
Lapeer County Parole Office in Lapeer, Michigan, was
convicted by a jury in the Emmet County Circuit Court of two
counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in violation
of Mich. Comp Laws § 750.520c(1)(a). Petitioner was
sentenced to three to fifteen years in prison. On February
16, 2016 Petitioner filed a pro se application for a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
contending that he was denied the effective assistance of
counsel and that his lifetime tether requirement violates the
Fourth and Eighth Amendments to the United States
Constitution. Respondent Michigan Department of Corrections
(“MDOC”) has filed an answer to the petition,
asserting that the claims lack merit and have been
procedurally defaulted. Because Petitioner's claims are
without merit, the petition will be denied.
following relevant facts relied upon by the Michigan Court of
Appeals 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).
Defendant and KH lived together from July 2009, through
defendant's conviction in March 2012. Defendant's
teenage daughter, HA, and KH's two daughters, HR and MR,
resided with the couple. In late November or early December
2011, the three girls reported that defendant had sexually
touched MR. During this time period, MR was suffering from
chronic back pain and would often climb into defendant and
her mother's bed in search of a back rub. MR claimed that
the inappropriate touching occurred as a result of such a
massage. The girls' stories were inconsistent about dates
and whether defendant had previously molested MR, and their
stories changed over time. MR was inconsistent about what
body parts defendant touched, where she was lying at the
time, and whether defendant was actually awake during the
incident. HR added her accusation of sexual touching after
the fact. Following the accusations, HR and MR moved in with
their father and HA also left the residence.
Defense counsel's strategy was to attack the girls'
credibility in order to show that they fabricated their
claims against defendant in retaliation for his strict
discipline. Despite the attack on the witnesses'
veracity, the jury convicted defendant of sexually touching
People v. Atkinson, No. 311626, 2014 WL 129269, at
*1 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 14, 2014). Petitioner's
conviction was affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Id. The Michigan Supreme Court then denied
Petitioner's application for leave to appeal. People
v. Atkinson, 497 Mich. 896, 855 N.W.2d 744 (Mich. 2014).
U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by The Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), imposes the
following standard of review for habeas cases: An application
for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody
pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be
granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the
merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of
(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;
(2) 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.
court adjudication is contrary to Supreme Court precedent
under § 2254(d)(1) if (1) “the state court applies
a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in
[Supreme Court] cases” or (2) “ the state court
confronts a set of facts that are materially
indistinguishable from a decision [of the Supreme Court] and
nevertheless arrives at a [different result].”
Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 73 (2003) (internal
quotation marks omitted). A state court adjudication involves
an unreasonable application of federal law under §
2254(d)(1) if “the state court identifies the correct
governing legal principle from [the Supreme Court's]
decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the
facts of the prisoner's case.” Harris v.
Haeberlin, 526 F.3d 903, 909 (6th Cir. 2008) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
order for a federal court to find a state court's
application of [Supreme Court] precedent unreasonable, the
state court's decision must have been more than incorrect
or erroneous, ” but rather “must have been
objectively unreasonable.” Wiggins v. Smith,
539 U.S. 510, 520-21 (2003) (internal quotations and
[E]ven clear error will not suffice. Rather, 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
White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014)
(citations, quotation marks, and alterations omitted).
“When reviewing state criminal convictions on
collateral review, federal judges are required to afford
state courts due respect by overturning their decisions only
when there could be no reasonable dispute that they were
wrong.” Woods v. Donald, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376
(2015). “Federal habeas review thus exists as ‘a
guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal
justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary error
correction through appeal.'” Id. (quoting
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102-03 (2011)).
“[W]hether the trial judge was right or wrong is not
the pertinent question under AEDPA.” Renico v.
Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 778 n.3 (2010). Rather, the
pertinent question is whether the state court's
application of federal law was “objectively
unreasonable.” White, 134 S.Ct. at 1702. In
short, the standard for obtaining federal habeas relief is
“difficult to meet . . . because it was meant to
be.” Burt v. Titlow, 134 S.Ct. 10, 16 (2013)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
§ 2254 petition, Petitioner Atkinson seeks a writ of
habeas corpus on two separate grounds. First, he argues that
he was denied the effective assistance of counsel because his
trial counsel failed to interview necessary witnesses with
exculpatory testimony and failed to play a forensic protocol
DVD, which highlighted inconsistencies in MR's
allegations. Petitioner also argues that imposition of
lifelong GPS monitoring infringes upon his constitutional
right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures
under the ...