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McCaskill v. Haas

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

January 13, 2017

RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.



         Jimmie Earl McCaskill, (“Petitioner”), confined at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven, Michigan, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges his conviction for armed robbery, M.C.L.A. § 750.529; felon in possession of a firearm, M.C.L.A. § 750.224f; and felony firearm, M.C.L.A. § 750.227b. The petition for writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.

         I. Background

         Petitioner was convicted after a jury trial in Wayne 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):

Defendant's convictions arise from the July 21, 2011 robbery of a CVS store located at 2590 W. Grand Boulevard in Detroit (the Grand Blvd. CVS). At trial, the prosecution presented evidence that defendant was involved in a similar robbery on July 13, 2011, at another CVS store located at 18585 E. Warren Avenue in Detroit (the Warren Ave. CVS). There was evidence identifying defendant as one of the robbers in both robberies. Defendant maintained that he was mistakenly identified.
In the Grand Blvd. CVS robbery, defendant's accomplice ascertained that Myiea Summerour was a manager and then, after conversing with defendant in another aisle, both men walked back to her, defendant showed her a gun that he had tucked in his shorts, and defendant told her to take the other man back to the safe. Noelle Beasley, who was in the back, opened the safe and gave the man $5, 373. Meanwhile, defendant stopped Kenyetta Marshall when she observed what was happening and told her not to move, showing her the imprint of the gun on his hip and stating that it was not her money. After the robbers left, Summerour called 911.
Both Marshall and Beasley were unable to identify defendant in a photographic lineup, which was not shown to Summerour. Beasley identified someone else. In a subsequent live lineup, Beasley could not identify defendant, and Marshall picked someone else, but Marshall identified defendant at trial as the person who stopped her. Summerour picked defendant out of a live lineup and identified him at trial. However, she had initially indicated that the perpetrator was shorter than defendant, stockier, and had a lighter complexion, and did not notice a lack of teeth.
In the Warren Ave. robbery, Carlos Chavez, the manager on duty, was called from the back room because defendant wanted to talk to him; defendant inquired whether CVS was hiring and, while defendant was subsequently filling out paperwork, he raised up his shirt, revealing a gun, and told Chavez that when he was done they were going to go to the back room and Chavez was going to give him money. Defendant also advised that he was with another man who was with an employee (Antonio Allen) in the photo department. As they walked to the office past the photo area, defendant held the gate for his accomplice and Chavez. Allen said that defendant stayed with him and showed him a bulge under his shirt. Chavez said that when he and the other man reached the office, he gave the other man all the cash he had, that the man left the office, and that he watched him and defendant leave the store. Allen then called 911.
Chavez identified defendant in a photographic lineup, but Allen was unable to do so. Both Chavez and Allen identified defendant in a live lineup. Chavez indicated that the perpetrator had a black mustache, did not note any gray, even though defendant had gray in his goatee at the time of the photo and live lineup, and said that he had “some teeth”; at the preliminary examination, he had said that the perpetrator's teeth were “normal.” Allen said he did not notice if the person did or did not have teeth.

People v. McCaskill, No. 318257, 2015 WL 1069400, at * 1 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 10, 2015).

         Petitioner's conviction was affirmed. Id., lv. den. 498 Mich. 885, 869 N.W.2d 597 (2015).

         Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds: (1) Officer Roland Brown impermissibly invaded the province of the jury by offering opinion testimony that Petitioner was the person in the surveillance video and photographs of the video and that Ms. Beasley was wrong when she identified someone else as the perpetrator; trial counsel was ineffective for eliciting Officer Brown's damaging testimony, and (2) Petitioner was prejudiced by the admission of other acts testimony involving an unrelated robbery.

         II. Standard of Review

         28 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 the claim-
(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 the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

         A decision of a state court is “contrary to” clearly established federal law if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). An “unreasonable application” occurs when “a state court decision unreasonably applies the law of [the Supreme Court] to the facts of a prisoner's case.” Id. at 409. A federal habeas court may not “issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly.” Id. at 410-11.

         The Supreme Court explained that “[A] federal court's collateral review of a state-court decision must be consistent with the respect due state courts in our federal system.” Miller-El v. Cockrell,537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003). The “AEDPA thus imposes a ‘highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, 'and ‘demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.'” Renico v. Lett,559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010)((quoting Lindh v. Murphy,521 U.S. 320, 333, n. 7 (1997); Woodford v. Viscotti,537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002)(per curiam)). “[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.” Harrington v. Richter,562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011)(citing Yarborough v. Alvarado,541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). To obtain habeas relief in federal court, a state prisoner is required to show that the state court's rejection of his or her claim “was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond ...

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