United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS ,
DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS , AND
DECLINING TO ISSUE CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge
prisoner Mark Anthony Willson seeks habeas relief pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254. He challenges his convictions on three
counts of criminal sexual conduct ("CSC"). Before
the Court is Respondent's motion to dismiss the petition
as untimely filed. For the following reasons, the Court will
grant the motion, and dismiss the petition.
was charged with four counts of first-degree CSC and one
count of third-degree CSC. The charges arose from allegations
that Willson sexually abused his adopted stepdaughter for a
period of years. Willson was tried before a jury in Bay
County Circuit Court. The prosecutor dismissed one of the
first-degree CSC counts during trial, and on September 26,
2008, the jury found Willson guilty of two counts of
first-degree CSC, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520b(1)(b), and
one count of third-degree CSC, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.520d(1)(d). The jury acquitted Willson of the remaining
first-degree CSC count. On December 1, 2008, the trial court
sentenced Willson to concurrent prison terms of 18 years and
nine months to 30 years for the first-degree CSC convictions,
and 10 to 15 years for the third-degree CSC conviction.
appealed his convictions on several grounds: (1) that he was
not provided sufficient notice of the charges against him,
and the trial court denied his motions for a bill of
particulars; (2) the prosecutor committed misconduct by
arguing matters not supported by the evidence; and (3)
additional issues regarding the scoring of the state
sentencing guidelines. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed
Willson's conviction and his sentence for third-degree
CSC, but remanded his case for re-sentencing on the
first-degree CSC convictions. See ECF No. 6-25.
Willson raised the issues regarding notice of the charges and
the prosecutor's conduct in an application for leave to
appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court
denied the application on May 25, 2010. See ECF No.
re-sentencing hearing on May 10, 2010, the trial court
imposed the same sentence of 18 years and nine months to 30
years for the first-degree CSC convictions. Willson appealed
his new sentence. On August 17, 2011, while that appeal was
pending, he filed a motion for relief from judgment in which
he alleged that the prosecutor committed misconduct, the
trial court committed an evidentiary error, and his appellate
counsel was ineffective. These issues now constitute
Willson's grounds for habeas relief.
Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Willson's re-sentence,
see ECF No. 6-27, and on April 23, 2012, the trial
court dismissed Willson's motion for relief from judgment
because the court thought Willson's appeal from his
re-sentencing was still pending in the Michigan Supreme
Court. See ECF No. 6-17. But that same day, the
Michigan Supreme Court denied Willson application for leave
to appeal his re-sentencing. See ECF No. 6-28.
3, 2012, Willson filed another motion for relief from
judgment, raising the same three issues that he presented to
the trial court in his first motion for relief from judgment.
The trial court held a hearing on Willson's motion and
denied it. See 8/23/12 Tr. 22-26, ECF No. 6-21;
see also Am. Order, ECF No. 6-20. Willson appealed
the trial court's decision, but the Michigan Court of
Appeals denied leave to appeal "for failure to meet the
burden of establishing entitlement to relief under [Michigan
Court Rule] 6.508(D)." Order 1, ECF No. 6-29. On
December 23, 2013, the Michigan Supreme Court denied
Willson's application for leave to appeal for the same
reason. See ECF No. 6-30.
January 7, 2014, Willson filed a pro se motion for judgment
notwithstanding the verdict. See ECF No. 6-22. He
argued that he was convicted of first-degree CSC on the
incorrect assumption that the victim was his blood relative.
On March 20, 2014, the trial court denied the motion after
concluding that it was a successive motion for relief from
judgment, and thus barred by Michigan Court Rule 6.502(G).
See ECF No. 6-23. On April 7, 2014, the trial court
denied reconsideration. See ECF No. 6-24.
March 17, 2015, Willson filed the instant habeas petition on
the following grounds: (1) the prosecutor engaged in severe
outcome-determinative misconduct during trial; (2) the trial
court admitted improper opinion testimony, which
impermissibly bolstered the complaining witness's
credibility; and (3) his appellate counsel, on direct appeal,
failed to raise critical issues and neglected to properly
raise other issues that would have been
Statute of Limitations
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)
established a one-year period of limitation for state
prisoners to file a federal habeas corpus petition. Wall
v. Kholi, 562 U.S. 545, 550 (2011) (citing 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d)(1)). The period runs from the latest of the
following four dates:
(A) the date on which the judgment became
final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of
the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to
filing an application created by State action in violation of
the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if
the applicant was ...