United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF
G. EDMUNDS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Layne, (“Petitioner”), confined at the Huron
Women's Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan,
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254, through counsel Christopher J. McGrath,
in which she challenges her conviction for second-degree
murder, M.C.L.A. 750.317; and possession of a firearm in the
commission of a felony (felony-firearm), M.C.L.A. 750.227b.
For the reasons that follow, the petition for writ of habeas
corpus is DENIED.
was charged with first-degree murder and felony-firearm.
Petitioner was convicted of the lesser included offense of
second-degree murder and guilty of the felony-firearm charge
following a jury trial in the Oakland 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.
Defendant shot her grandson, Jonathon Hoffman, to death.
Jonathon lived with defendant and her husband. In March 2012,
Jonathan was charged with marijuana possession and sentenced
to probation that included drug testing. In April 2012,
defendant purchased a handgun, a speed loader, and a box of
ammunition. She took two lessons related to gun use, which
included firing the gun at a gun range. Her husband did not
know about the gun purchase or the lessons. On the morning of
May 18, 2012, defendant took Jonathon to his scheduled drug
test. Because he tested positive for “spice, ”
also known as “K2, ” he had to return later in
the day and he was angry. He and defendant argued. Defendant
took Jonathon to his afternoon drug test and, after his
return to the vehicle, they argued. When defendant and
Jonathon arrived home at some time after 4:30 p.m., defendant
asked her husband to take the dog for a walk. While
defendant's husband was out walking the dog, at some time
before 5:27 p.m., the shooting occurred. Defendant fired
numerous gunshots, in several areas of the house. Jonathon
was shot six times and died. Toxicology tests revealed no
drugs in his blood, but a synthetic drug metabolite in his
urine, i.e., K2. The medical examiner testified that drugs
found in urine have exited a person's system and do not
affect the person. Defendant was arrested and taken to a
hospital. No injuries were identified. At trial, defendant
asserted that she shot Jonathon in self-defense.
v. Layne, No. 316059, 2014 WL 5164652, at *1 (Mich. Ct.
App. Oct. 14, 2014).
Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. Id.,
lv. den. 497 Mich. 1028 (2015).
Petitioner seeks habeas relief on the following grounds:
I. The trial court denied petitioner her right to present a
defense when it precluded her from offering evidence about
the decedent's state of mind and intent[.]
II. The trial court violated the Eighth Amendment when it
sentenced petitioner to 20-40 years imprisonment with a
consecutive mandatory two-year term[.]
Standard of Review
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;
(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.
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. “[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)). Therefore, in order 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 any
possibility for fairminded disagreement.”
Harrington, 562 U.S. at 103. A habeas petitioner
should be denied relief as long as it is within the
“realm of possibility” that fairminded jurists
could find the state court decision to be reasonable. See
Woods v. Etherton, 136 S.Ct. 1149, 1152 (2016).
Michigan Court of Appeals reviewed and rejected
petitioner's claims under a plain error standard because
petitioner failed to preserve the issues at the trial court
level. In Fleming v. Metrish,556 F.3d 520, 532 (6th
Cir. 2009), a panel of the Sixth Circuit held that the AEDPA
deference applies to any underlying plain-error analysis of a
procedurally defaulted claim. In a subsequent decision, the
Sixth Circuit held that that plain-error review is not
equivalent to adjudication on the merits, so as to trigger
AEDPA deference. See Frazier v. Jenkins, 770 F.3d
485, 496 n. 5 (6th Cir. 2014). The Sixth Circuit noted that
“the approaches of Fleming and
Frazier are in direct conflict.” Trimble
v. Bobby, 804 F.3d 767, 777 (6th Cir. 2015). When
confronted by conflicting holdings of the Sixth Circuit, this
Court must follow the earlier panel's holding until it is
overruled by the United States Supreme Court or by the ...