United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney, United States District Judge
a habeas corpus proceeding brought by a state prisoner
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner's criminal
convictions stem from his sexual molestation of TB, his six
year old niece. On July 15, 2009, a Kalamazoo County Circuit
Court jury found petitioner guilty on two counts of
second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC II) (sexual
contact with a person under age 13), Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.520c(1)(a) and one count of attempted CSC II, Mich. Comp.
Laws §§ 750.92, 750.520c(1)(a).
August 12, 2009, Judge Pamela Lightvoet sentenced petitioner
as an habitual offender, second felony offense, to concurrent
terms of eighty months to 22 ½ years, five to 22
½ years, and eighteen months to 7 ½ years'
imprisonment. On October 3, 2013, petitioner filed his
federal habeas corpus petition through Attorney Christine
seeks federal habeas corpus relief on the following grounds:
I. DOES THE STATE COURT'S DECISION REST ON A READING OF
CRONIC THAT IS CONTRARY TO THAT CASE AND ITS
PROGENY, PARTICULARLY BELL V. CONE, AND IS IT AN
UNREASONABLE APPLICATION OF THAT PRECEDENT?
II. UNDER THE FRAMEWORK ESTABLISHED IN CRONIC, DID
PETITIONER RECEIVE INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL COUNSEL
AND SHOULD THE MICHIGAN COURTS' DETERMINATIONS TO THE
CONTRARY BE REVERSED?
at 3, ECF No. 1, PageID.4; Petitioner's Brief at ii, ECF
No. 1, PageID.9).
has filed an answer to the petition. Respondent argues that
the petition should be denied for lack of merit.
(Respondent's Answer, 35-64, ECF No. 7, PageID.136-65).
review of the state-court record, the Court finds that the
grounds raised by petitioner lack merit and do not provide a
basis for granting federal habeas corpus relief. Accordingly,
the petition will be denied.
Court's review of this petition is governed by the
provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA). See
Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792 (2001). AEDPA
“dictates a highly deferential standard for evaluating
state-court rulings which demands the state court decisions
be given the benefit of the doubt.” Bell v.
Cone, 543 U.S. 447, 455 (2005) (citations omitted).
“AEDPA requires heightened respect for state court
factual and legal determinations.” Lundgren v.
Mitchell, 440 F.3d 754, 762 (6th Cir. 2006).
“State-court factual findings  are presumed correct;
the petitioner has the burden of rebutting the presumption by
clear and convincing evidence.” Davis v.
Ayala, 135 S.Ct. 2187, 2199-2200 (2015) (citations and
internal quotations omitted).
state court adjudicated the claim, deferential AEDPA
standards must be applied. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); see
Premo v. Moore, 562 U.S. 115, 121 (2011); Waddington
v. Sarausad, 555 U.S. 179, 190 (2009); Holder v.
Palmer, 588 F.3d 328, 341 (6th Cir. 2009) ((“[A]ny
claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court
proceedings' is subject to AEDPA deference.”)
(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)). AEDPA prevents federal
habeas “retrials” and ensures that state court
convictions are given effect to the extent possible under
law. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002). It
prohibits “using federal habeas corpus review as a
vehicle to second-guess the reasonable decisions of state
courts.” Parker v. Matthews, 132 S.Ct. 2148,
2149 (2012) (per curiam).
AEDPA standard is difficult to meet “because it was
meant to be.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S.
86, 102 (2011). “Section 2254(d) reflects the that
habeas corpus is a guard against extreme malfunctions in the
state criminal justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary
error corrections through appeal.” Id. at
102-03 (citation and internal quotation omitted); see
Woods v. Donald, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015). Section
2254(d) states that an application for a writ of habeas
corpus on behalf of a person who is incarcerated pursuant to
a state conviction cannot be granted with respect to any
claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court
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 upon an unreasonable determination of
the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State
court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); see
White v. Wheeler, 136 S.Ct. 456, 460 (2015); Davis
v. Ayala, 135 S.Ct. at 2198; White v. Woodall,
134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014).
only definitive source of clearly established federal law for
purposes of § 2254(d)(1) is the holdings-not dicta-of
Supreme Court decisions. White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct.
at 1702; see Woods v. Donald, 135 S.Ct. at 1377
(“Because none of our cases confront ‘the
specific question presented by this case, ' the state
court's decision could not be ‘contrary to' any
holding from this Court.”). “[W]here the precise
contours of a right remain unclear, state courts enjoy broad
discretion in their adjudication of a prisoner's
claims.” Id. (quotations and internal
unreasonable application of the Supreme Court's holding
must be “‘objectively unreasonable, ' not
merely wrong; even ‘clear error' will not
suffice.” White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. at 1702
(quoting Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75-76
(2003)). Rather, “[a]s 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 fairminded disagreement.”
White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. at 1702 (quoting
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. at 103).
“[C]ircuit precedent does not constitute ‘clearly
established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court,
' ” and “[i]t therefore cannot form the basis
for habeas relief under AEDPA.” Hill v.
Curtin, 792 F.3d 670, 677 (6th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Parker v. Matthews, 132 S.Ct. at 2155); see
Glebe v. Frost, 135 S.Ct. 429, 431 (2014) (per
curiam) (“As we have repeatedly emphasized, 
circuit precedent does not constitute ‘clearly
established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme
state-court factual determination is not unreasonable merely
because the federal habeas court would have reached a
different conclusion in the first instance.” Wood
v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290, 301 (2010). Section 2254 (d)(2)
requires that this Court accord the state trial court
substantial deference. If reasonable minds reviewing the
record might disagree about the finding in question, on
habeas review that does not suffice to supersede the trial
court's determination. Brumfield v. Cain, 135
S.Ct. 2269, 2277 (2015); Burt v. Titlow, 134 S.Ct.
10, 15 (2013).
Circuit Court Proceedings
trial began on July 14, 2009, and it concluded on July 15,
2009, with the jury's verdict finding petitioner guilty
on all three charges. (Trial Transcripts, TT I-TT II, ECF No.
mother testified that in 2004, she and her family were living
at her mother's house in Kalamazoo. (TT I, 193).
Petitioner is her half-brother. He was also living at that
residence. (TT I, 194). One evening, she went to check on her
daughter and found petitioner in the room. (TT I, 197).
Petitioner was sitting at a desk chair in his pajama bottoms.
Her daughter, TB, was straddling petitioner across his lap
wearing nothing other than her underwear. She could see that
petitioner's penis was erect. TB's mother told
petitioner to get out of the house. (TT I, 198-200). She did
not contact Child Protective Services (CPS) at that time. (TT
I, 201-02). In 2008, one of TB's teachers contacted CPS.
(TT I, 165-68, 200).
grandmother confirmed that petitioner had been living in the
house at the time in question. (TT I, 215). She testified
regarding an occasion where TB had been playing with
petitioner and she came indoors with her zipper down. (TT I,
222). Later, when she confronted petitioner, he denied any
inappropriate touching. Petitioner went on to say that he and
TB loved each other and they wanted to get married and have
children. TB's grandmother advised petitioner that TB was
a child and he was an adult. She stated that petitioner did
not seem to understand that the relationship with TB he had
described was inappropriate and illegal. (TT I, 224-25).
eleven years old on the date that she testified at
petitioner's trial. (TT I, 170). She referred to
petitioner as Uncle Jeff. She identified him in court. (TT I,
191). She testified that during the period from late 2003
into 2004, she was living with her grandmother. Petitioner
was living with TB and her mother at her grandmother's
house. (TT I, 173-74). TB described how, on one occasion,
petitioner French-kissed TB in the mouth and kissed her all
over her body, including her arms, legs and neck. (TT I,
175-79). On another occasion, petitioner unzipped his pants
and stuck his penis through the zipper hole and forced her to
touch it, hold it with both hands, and lick it. (TT I,
179-81). On another occasion, petitioner had TB unzip her
pants. He pulled down her underwear and he kissed her private
area. (TT I, 182-84). The last incident occurred in TB's
bedroom. Petitioner told TB to get up on his lap ...