United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
AND ORDER GRANTING THE STATE'S MOTION TO DISMISS [Docket
No. 8], DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTIONS FOR APPOINTMENT OF
COUNSEL [Docket No. 2], FOR AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING [Docket
No. 3], AND FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Docket No. 10], DISMISSING
THE HABEAS PETITION [Docket No. 1], DECLINING TO ISSUE A
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN
sDenise Page Hood Chief Judge, United States District Court
matter has come before the Court on petitioner Lincoln
Anderson Watkins' pro se habeas corpus petition
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and respondent Jeffrey Woods'
motion to dismiss the habeas petition as untimely. Also
pending before the Court are Petitioner's motions for
appointment of counsel, for an evidentiary hearing, and for
summary judgment. Because the Court agrees with Respondent
that Petitioner's habeas petition is time-barred,
Respondent's motion will be granted and Petitioner's
motions will be denied.
The Charges, Trial, and Sentence
was charged in Wayne County, Michigan with five counts of
first-degree criminal sexual conduct, see Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.520b(1)(a) (sexual penetration of a
person under thirteen years of age), and one count of
second-degree criminal sexual conduct, see Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.520c(1)(a) (sexual contact with a
person under thirteen years of age). Petitioner's first
two jury trials in Wayne County Circuit Court ended in
mistrials. At his third jury trial,
the victim, then 15 years old, testified that she had known
Watkins all her life, having lived next door to him and
having occasionally babysat one of his children. She also
stated that she was good friends with Watkins's wife,
whom she considered her godmother. She considered Watkins her
boyfriend. According to the victim, when she was 12 years
old, Watkins approached her at a Memorial Day gathering and
showed her sexually explicit images that were on his cell
phone. She claimed that Watkins touched her breasts the next
time she babysat and penetrated her vaginally the day after
that. This conduct allegedly occurred consensually for the
next couple of weeks. Sometime thereafter, when the victim
arrived to babysit, she declined Watkins's request to
engage in sexual activity because she was menstruating. She
testified that Watkins's insistence disturbed her and she
thought he might rape her. She told her mother what had
happened. Although the victim did not want to get Watkins in
trouble, she agreed to speak with the police.
The trial court allowed EW to testify regarding other-acts
evidence under MCL 768.27a. According to EW, about 10 years
earlier, when she was 15 years old, she had often babysat
Watkins's oldest child. She testified that, during one
visit, Watkins led her upstairs by the hand. He allegedly
began kissing her, and their interactions culminated in
sexual penetration. According to EW, their sexual
relationship lasted a couple of years.
Watkins did not take the stand or call any witnesses. Defense
counsel argued that the witnesses lacked credibility because
their statements were inconsistent and uncorroborated.
People v. Watkins, 491 Mich. 450, 460-61; 818 N.W.2d
296, 301 (2012).
March 10, 2009, the jury acquitted Petitioner of one count of
first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but found him guilty of
four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one
count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. On March 26,
2009, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to concurrent
terms of twenty-five to forty years in prison for each of the
first-degree convictions and ten to fifteen years in prison
for the second-degree conviction.
The Direct Appeal and Post-Conviction Proceedings
appeal from his convictions, Petitioner argued that (1) his
double jeopardy rights were violated because the
prosecutor's misconduct precipitated a mistrial, (2)
Mich. Comp. Laws § 768.27a violates the presumption of
innocence and unconstitutionally infringes on the Michigan
Supreme Court's authority, and (3) his due process rights
were violated when the trial judge failed to hold an
evidentiary hearing to determine the scope of EW's
testimony. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected these
claims and affirmed Petitioner's convictions in an
unpublished decision. See People v. Watkins, No.
291841 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 5, 2010). On June 8, 2012, the
Michigan Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of
Appeals, see Watkins, 491 Mich. at 450; 818 N.W.2d
at 296,  and on July 26, 2012, the state supreme
court denied Petitioner's motion for rehearing. See
People v. Watkins, 492 Mich. 859; 817 N.W.2d 111 (2012)
January 24, 2013, Petitioner filed a motion for an
evidentiary hearing based on newly discovered evidence (the
transcript of a hearing held on July 11, 2006). He claimed
that the transcript would show he was innocent and that the
victim's father lied at trial. The trial court treated
Petitioner's motion as a motion for new trial and then
denied the motion for lack of merit in Petitioner's
arguments. See People v. Watkins, No.
06-008116-01-FC (Wayne County Cir. Ct. Feb. 21, 2013).
appealed the trial court's decision without success. The
Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal for failure
to establish entitlement to relief under Michigan Court Rule
6.508(D). See People v. Watkins, No. 316010 (Mich.
Ct. App. Oct. 30, 2013.) The Court of Appeals subsequently
re-issued its decision at Petitioner's request. See
People v. Watkins, No. 316010 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 27,
November 25, 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court likewise denied
leave to appeal under Rule 6.508(D), see People v.
Watkins, 497 Mich. 903; 856 N.W.2d 38 (2014) (table),
and on May 28, 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court denied
reconsideration. See People v. Watkins, 497 Mich.
1031; 863 N.W.2d 45 (2015) (table). Petitioner then filed a
petition for the writ of certiorari in the United States
Supreme Court. On February 29, 2016, the Supreme Court denied
the application. See Watkins v. Michigan, 136 S.Ct.
The Habeas Petition and Pending Motions
April 4, 2016, Petitioner signed and dated his habeas corpus
petition, and on April 8, 2016, the Clerk of the Court filed
the petition. The grounds for relief set forth in the
petition allege that: (1) Petitioner's rights under the
double jeopardy clauses were violated because the
prosecutor's misconduct precipitated a mistrial; (2)
Petitioner's due process and equal protection rights were
violated when the trial judge failed to hold an evidentiary
hearing to determine the scope of EW's testimony; (3) the
trial court failed to hold a hearing and to apply Michigan
Rule of Evidence 403 to ensure that EW's testimony was
not admitted in evidence; (4) the trial court's failure
to hold a hearing to determine what part of EW's
testimony was admitted resulted in an improper jury
instruction being read to the jury; (5) admitting EW's
testimony without applying Michigan Rule of Evidence 403
violated Petitioner's right to a fair trial; (6) Mich.
Comp. Laws § 768.27a violates the fundamental right to
the presumption of innocence and unconstitutionally infringes
on the Michigan Supreme Court's authority; (7)
withholding the July 11, 2006 transcript violated
Petitioner's right to pursue an appeal of right; (8)
withholding the July 11, 2006 transcript caused
Petitioner's lawyer to become ineffective; (9) the
prosecutor's misconduct, including the withholding of
evidence, deprived Petitioner of a fair trial; (10)
Petitioner's right to confront his accuser and his right
to present a defense were violated by the state district
court clerk's statement that no testimony was given on
July 11, 2006; (11) withholding the July 11, 2006 transcript
violated Petitioner's rights to due process and equal
protection of the law; and (12) Brady applies where
the State repeatedly denied that the July 11, 2006 transcript
motion for appointment of counsel, which Petitioner filed
with his habeas petition, he seeks a trained attorney to
assist him in investigating these issues and bringing them
before the Court. In his motion for an evidentiary hearing,
also filed with the habeas petition, Petitioner alleges that
a hearing is needed to determine what the victim's father
revealed to the prosecutor on the matter of the father's
pretrial conversations with Petitioner, what the prosecutor
knew about the July 11, 2006 transcript, and how defense
counsel would have used the transcript at trial.
argues in his motion to dismiss the habeas petition that the
petition is barred by the one-year statute of limitations for
habeas petitions filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Petitioner argues in a combined motion for summary judgment
and answer to Respondent's motion that his petition is
timely and that he is innocent and entitled to equitable
tolling of the statute of limitations. Petitioner contends
that Respondent failed to file the July 11, 2006 transcript,
downplayed Petitioner's claim of actual innocence, and
failed to inform the Court of the State's role in
impeding his ability to file his petition.
The Statute of Limitations
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)
established a one-year period of limitation for state
prisoners to file their federal habeas corpus petitions.
Wall v. Kholi, 562 U.S. 545, 550 (2011) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)); Holbrook v. Curtin, 833
F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing § 2244(d)(1)). The
limitations period runs from the latest of the following four
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the
conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time ...