United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING HABEAS PETITION,
DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY,
BUT GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
prisoner Sean Michael Ryan (“Petitioner”) has
filed a pro se habeas corpus petition challenging his state
convictions for seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual
conduct. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520b(1)(a)
(sexual penetration of a person under the age of thirteen).
Petitioner alleges as grounds for relief that: (1) the state
courts deprived him of due process by denying his requests
for an evidentiary hearing; (2) appellate counsel was
ineffective for failing to raise stronger claims on direct
appeal; (3) trial counsel's omissions deprived him of
effective assistance; (4) the police delayed his arraignment
to obtain additional information justifying his arrest; (5)
the prosecutor relied on perjured testimony; (6) the
prosecution suppressed exculpatory evidence; (7) the police
destroyed or failed to preserve exculpatory video evidence;
(8) his arrest was not supported by probable cause; (9) the
trial court erroneously admitted his partially videotaped
statement to the police; (10) the cumulative effect of errors
resulted in an unfair trial; (11) he is actually innocent of
the crimes for which he is incarcerated; and (12) the Court
should grant leave to amend the petition if he raises
additional claims. Respondent Robert Napel argues in an
answer to the petition that several of Petitioner's
claims are not cognizable on habeas review and that the state
courts' decisions on Petitioner's other claims were
neither contrary to Supreme Court precedent, unreasonable
applications of Supreme Court precedent, nor unreasonable
determinations of the facts. The Court agrees. Accordingly,
the Court is denying Petitioner habeas petition relief.
was charged in Saginaw County, Michigan with nine counts of
first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving his
eleven-year-old daughter. The Michigan Court of Appeals
summarized the evidence at Petitioner's jury trial in
Saginaw County Circuit Court as follows:
On March 1, 2010, the police were notified by local school
personnel that a student had made allegations that her
father, defendant, had sexually abused her on various
occasions. The police met with defendant at the school, then
transported him to the police department for questioning.
Meanwhile, a detective took the victim to a local abuse and
neglect center for purposes of a forensic interview. At the
police department, defendant signed a form indicating that he
understood and waived his Miranda rights. He provided the
police with the addresses of four properties that he owned,
and defendant consented to a search of those locations.
In an initial police interview on March 1, defendant denied
ever having sexual contact with his daughter. The interview
was recorded, but a computer failure or human error resulted
in the data or recording being lost. Defendant was then
transported to the county jail. The next day, March 2,
detectives went to the county jail with the intention of
interviewing defendant once again. However, the detectives
decided not to interview defendant because he complained of a
lack of sleep. Defendant was again interviewed by police on
March 3, 2010, and the interview was recorded and played for
the jury. During the interview, defendant confessed to
engaging in numerous instances of sexual contact and
penetration with his daughter, including vaginal and anal
intercourse, as well as fellatio and
cunnilingus. The trial court denied defendant's
pretrial motion to suppress the confession ….
The victim testified that she was 12 years old at the time of
trial and that she had stopped living with her mother and
went to live with her father in 2009 at a house in Saginaw
that he shared with his wife (the victim's stepmother)
and the victim's two half-brothers. The victim indicated
that her stepmother went to Mississippi for a wedding
sometime in June 2009, leaving defendant to care for her and
her brothers. Shortly after her stepmother left, defendant
called the victim into his bedroom and demanded that she
remove all of her clothing. She testified that defendant put
his penis in her vagina and thereafter placed his penis in
her mouth, leading to ejaculation. The victim was 11 years
old at the time. The act of vaginal intercourse and the act
of fellatio in this first episode or transaction gave rise to
counts 3 and 9 of the information charging CSC-1.
Defendant's daughter testified that he continued to
engage in various acts of sexual contact and penetration with
her after the initial incident and that the sexual abuse
occurred numerous times at the various properties owned by
The victim stated that on February 28, 2010, her stepmother
and brothers were gone from the house and defendant wanted
her to remove her clothing, but she refused and climbed under
her bed. She testified that defendant took his belt off and
started swinging it under the bed, striking her once on the
leg. The next day at school the victim told the school
counselor about the sexual abuse.
Defendant took the stand and denied any sexual contact with
his daughter, suggesting that she had made it all up in an
effort to return to her mother out of state. Defendant
testified that his confession was false and resulted from
being deprived of medical attention and his pain medications
as well as threats that his sons would be taken away from his
wife and put in foster care.
People v. Ryan, 819 N.W.2d 55, 58-59 (Mich. Ct. App.
2012) (footnotes in original as notes 2 and 3).
trial court granted Petitioner's motion for a directed
verdict of acquittal as to count two (sexual penetration with
a vibrator), and on November 5, 2010, the jury acquitted
Petitioner of count one (sexual penetration with a vibrator).
On the same date, the jury found Petitioner guilty of the
seven remaining counts of criminal sexual conduct in the
December 14, 2010, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to
imprisonment for twenty-five to fifty years for each count of
criminal sexual conduct. The court ordered the sentences to
run concurrently, with the exception of count nine, which the
court ordered to run consecutively to count
counsel, Petitioner filed a direct appeal, arguing that the
trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his
confession and by ordering consecutive sentences. Petitioner
raised several other claims in a supplemental pro se brief.
The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's
convictions and sentences after concluding “that the
trial court correctly interpreted and applied MCL 750.520b(3)
with respect to consecutive sentencing, that the court did
not err by denying defendant's motion to suppress his
confession, and that the remainder of defendant's
appellate arguments lack merit.” Ryan, 819
N.W.2d at 58. On October 4, 2012, the Michigan Supreme Court
denied leave to appeal because it was not persuaded to review
the issues. See People v. Ryan, 820 N.W.2d 918
raised multiple claims in a motion for relief from judgment,
which the trial court denied. The trial court stated that all
of Petitioner's claims, except for his claim about
appellate counsel, were raised on direct appeal. The court
determined that it was precluded from adjudicating the claims
Petitioner raised on direct appeal and that the claim about
appellate counsel lacked merit. See Op. and Order
Den. Def.'s Mot. for Relief from J., People v.
Ryan, No. 10-034589-FC, (Saginaw Cty. Cir. Ct. Dec. 13,
2012), ECF No. 48-12.
appealed the trial court's decision, but the Michigan
Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal because Petitioner
failed to establish entitlement to relief under Michigan
Court Rule 6.508(D). See People v. Ryan, No. 315897
(Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 1, 2013), ECF No. 48-15. On February 28,
2014, the Michigan Supreme Court denied Petitioner leave to
appeal for the same reason. See People v. Ryan, 843
N.W.2d 521 (Mich. 2014). On April 17, 2014, Petitioner filed
his habeas petition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
statutory authority of federal courts to issue habeas corpus
relief for persons in state custody is provided by 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA).” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 97 (2011). Pursuant to §
2254, the Court may not grant a state prisoner's
application for the writ of habeas corpus unless the state
court's adjudication of the prisoner's claims on the
(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.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
Under the “contrary to” clause [of §
2254(d)(1)], a federal habeas court may grant the writ 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. Under the
“unreasonable application” clause [of §
2254(d)(1)], a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the
state court identifies the correct governing legal principle
from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but unreasonably
applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000)
(O'Connor, J., opinion of the Court for Part II).
“[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. Rather, that
application must also be unreasonable.” Id. at
thus imposes a ‘highly deferential standard for
evaluating state-court rulings, ' Lindh v.
Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333, n. 7 (1997), and
‘demands that state-court decisions be given the
benefit of the doubt, ' Woodford v. Visciotti,
537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (per curiam).” Renico v.
Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010). “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.” Richter, 562 U.S. at
101 (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652,
664 (2004)). To obtain a writ of habeas corpus from a federal
court, a state prisoner must show that the state court's
ruling on 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.” Id. at 103.
‘In a proceeding instituted by an application for a
writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a State court, a determination of a factual issue
made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct, '
unless rebutted by ‘clear and convincing evidence'.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).” Holland v.
Rivard, 800 F.3d 224, 242 (6th Cir. 2015), cert.
denied, 136 S.Ct. 1384 (2016). Finally, “review
under § 2254(d)(1) is limited to the record that was
before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the
merits.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170,
Claim One: Denial of an Evidentiary Hearing
alleges that the state courts deprived him of his right to
due process and his right to present a complete defense by
denying or ignoring his requests for evidentiary hearings to
establish a factual record. Petitioner contends that, if he
had been granted an opportunity to develop the record, his
illegally obtained statement would have been suppressed, he
would have received a new trial, and he probably would have
been found not guilty.
record before the Court reveals that the trial court
conducted an evidentiary hearing on Petitioner's motion
to suppress his statement to the police. (See
10/28/10, 10/29/10 & 11/2/10 Hr'g Trs., ECF Nos.
48-3, 48-4 & 48-5.) As for the failure to grant an
evidentiary hearing on Petitioner's post-conviction
motions for a new trial and relief from judgment,
Petitioner's claim lacks merit because
the Sixth Circuit has consistently held that errors in
post-conviction proceedings are outside the scope of federal
habeas corpus review. See Kirby v. Dutton, 794 F.2d
245, 246-47 (6th Cir.1986); Roe v. Baker, 316 F.3d
557, 571 (6th Cir. 2002) . . . . [C]laims challenging state
collateral post-conviction proceedings “cannot be
brought under the federal habeas corpus provision, 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, ” because “ ‘the essence of
habeas corpus is an attack by a person in custody upon the
legality of that custody, and . . . the traditional function
of the writ is to secure release from illegal custody.'
” Kirby, 794 F.2d at 246 . . . . A due process
claim related to collateral post-conviction proceedings, even
if resolved in a petitioner's favor, would not
“result [in] . . . release or a reduction in . . . time
to be served or in any other way affect his detention because
we would not be reviewing any matter directly pertaining to
his detention.” Kirby, 794 F.2d at 247. . . .
Accordingly, [the Sixth Circuit has] held repeatedly that
“the scope of the writ [does not] reach this second
tier of complaints about deficiencies in state
post-conviction proceedings, ” noting that “the
writ is not the proper means” to challenge
“collateral matters” as opposed to “the
underlying state conviction giving rise to the prisoner's
incarceration.” Id. at 248, 247 . . . .
Cress v. Palmer, 484 F.3d 844, 853 (6th Cir. 2007).
it would be an unusual intrusion for federal courts to
second-guess state procedures for resolving motions once they
have been presented. States are independent sovereigns, and
the federal government generally speaking should respect
their choices about how to adjudicate disputes.
. . . [Federal courts] must instead presume that, once a
federal claim comes before a state court, the state judge
will use a fair procedure to achieve a just resolution of the
claim - resolving some motions with neither an evidentiary
hearing nor an oral argument, some with an oral argument
alone, some with both.
Good v. Berghuis, 729 F.3d 636, 639 (6th Cir. 2013),
cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 1174 (2015). For the reasons
given by the Sixth Circuit in Cress and
Good, Petitioner's challenge to the state trial
court's post-conviction procedures is not cognizable on
habeas corpus review.
Claim Four: Delay in the Arraignment
claims the police intentionally delayed his arraignment for
four days to obtain additional information justifying his
arrest. According to Petitioner, the police arrested him
without a warrant on March 1, 2010, obtained a warrant on
March 4, 2010, and finally brought him before a magistrate
for an arraignment on March 5, 2010. Petitioner contends that
this procedure violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment
to the United States Constitution and required suppression of
any evidence collected as a result of the constitutional
Fourth Amendment claim is not cognizable here, because the
Supreme Court held in Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465
(1976), that “where the State has provided an
opportunity for full and fair litigation of a Fourth
Amendment claim, a state prisoner may not be granted federal
habeas corpus relief on the ground that evidence obtained in
an unconstitutional search or seizure was introduced at his
trial.” Id. at 494 (internal footnote
omitted). “[T]he Powell ‘opportunity for
full and fair consideration' means an available avenue
for the prisoner to present his claim to the state courts,
not an inquiry into the adequacy of the procedure actually
used to resolve that particular claim.” Good,
729 F.3d at 639. “Michigan provide[s] an adequate
avenue to raise a Fourth Amendment claim, ” Hurick
v. Woods, No. 16-1554, 2016 WL 7093988, at *3 (6th Cir.
Dec. 5, 2016), and Petitioner has failed to show that his
claim was frustrated by a failure in Michigan's mechanism
for reviewing Fourth Amendment claims.
cognizable here, the record does not support Petitioner's
claim that the police intentionally delayed the arraignment
to gather additional information justifying his arrest. The
police searched Petitioner's properties and received a
report concerning the complainant's forensic examination
on the same day they arrested Petitioner, and Petitioner
confessed to the crimes on the morning of March 3, 2010, less
than 48 hours after his arrest.
it is not clear from the record why Petitioner was not
arraigned until March 5, 2010, “delay in arraignment,
standing alone, without a showing of prejudice . . .
present[s] no federal question.” Streeter v.
Craven, 418 F.2d 273, 274 (9th Cir. 1969); see also
Stevens v. Berghuis, No. 13-13268, 2016 WL 704966 at *5
(Feb. 23, 2016) (citing Kirkland v. Maxwell, 396
F.2d 687, 688 (6th Cir. 1966) (rejecting the petitioner's
habeas claim of illegal delay in arraignment because he
failed to show any prejudice resulting from the delay)).
Petitioner's confession was not the fruit of the delay,
because he confessed within 48 hours of his arrest, and he
has not alleged that he was prejudiced in any other way.
is not entitled to relief on his Fourth Amendment claim.
Claims Five and Six: Perjured Testimony and Suppression of
sixth claim, Petitioner alleges that the police suppressed
exculpatory evidence that the complainant received a sexual
assault examination, that there were no signs of physical or
sexual trauma, and that the police were notified of these
facts. In his fifth claim, Petitioner asserts that two
detectives perjured themselves when they testified at trial
that they were unaware of the sexual assault examination.
Petitioner purports to have new evidence that the victim was,
in fact, ...