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Lewis v. MaClaren

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

May 31, 2017

JAMAL JAY LEWIS, #345442, Petitioner,


          GERSHWIN A. DRAIN United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         This is a habeas case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Michigan prisoner Jamal Jay Lewis (“Petitioner”) was convicted of possession of burglar's tools, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.116; two counts of breaking and entering of a motor vehicle with damage to the vehicle, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.356a(3); breaking and entering of a motor vehicle with intent to steal property worth less than $200, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.356a(2)(a); three counts of larceny from a motor vehicle, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.356a(1); three counts of attempt to unlawfully drive away a motor vehicle, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.413; Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.92; and two counts of receiving and concealing stolen property with a value greater than $200 and less than $1, 000, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.535(4)(a), following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court in 2012. He was sentenced, as a fourth habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.12, to 4½ to 20 years imprisonment for the possession of burglar's tools conviction, two to five years imprisonment for each of the breaking and entering a motor vehicle with damage to the vehicle convictions, three months in jail for the breaking and entering of a motor vehicle with intent to steal property worth less than $200 conviction, two to five years imprisonment for each of the larceny from a motor vehicle convictions, two to five years imprisonment for each of the attempt to unlawfully drive away a motor vehicle convictions, and one year in jail for each of the receiving and concealing stolen property with a value greater than $200 and less than $1, 000 convictions.

         In his pleadings, Petitioner raises claims concerning the search and seizure of evidence, the addition of charges mid-trial, the effectiveness of trial counsel, his trial clothing, and the lack of an evidentiary hearing on direct appeal. For the reasons set forth, the Court denies the petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The Court also denies a certificate of appealability and denies leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         II. Facts and Procedural History

         Petitioner's convictions arise from his possession of burglary tools and stolen property, as well as his actions of breaking into cars and stealing personal property, in Harper Woods, Michigan in 2011. The Michigan Court of Appeals described the relevant facts, which are presumed correct on habeas review, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009), as follows:

In the early morning hours of November 29, 2011, Harper Woods police received a call concerning a man trespassing on private property and a call of a suspicious person, as well as a call regarding a vehicle break-in. The police came upon defendant, on foot, in the immediate area of and shortly after the trespassing and suspicious person calls. A search of his person revealed three screwdrivers and two pairs of vise grips. A further search of defendant's pockets and a backpack he had on his person revealed two GPS units, a cell phone, music compact discs, and vehicle registration forms, insurance certificates, and auto declaration forms bearing another individual's name. Defendant was transported to the police station, where a connection was made between the items he had in his possession and recent vehicle break-ins that had occurred in the area where he had been picked up. As a result, defendant was arrested for and ultimately convicted of the above indicated charges.

People v. Lewis, No. 311813, 2014 WL 61310, *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 7, 2014) (unpublished).

         Following his convictions and sentencing, Petitioner filed an appeal of right with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising the same claims contained in his current petition. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions. People v. Lewis, No. 311813, 2014 WL 61310 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 7, 2014) (unpublished). Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied. People v. Lewis, 496 Mich. 865, 849 N.W.2d 359 (July 29, 2014).

         Petitioner thereafter filed his federal habeas petition. Respondent has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should be denied.

         III. Standard of Review

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq., sets forth the standard of review that federal courts must use when considering habeas petitions brought by prisoners challenging their state court convictions. The AEDPA provides in relevant part:

         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; or
(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) (1996).

         “A state court's decision is ‘contrary to' . . . clearly established law if it ‘applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court cases]' or if it ‘confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [that] precedent.'” Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003) (per curiam) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)); see also Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002).

         “[T]he ‘unreasonable application' prong of § 2254(d)(1) permits a federal habeas court to ‘grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of petitioner's case.” Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 413); see also Bell, 535 U.S. at 694. However, “[i]n order for a federal court to find a state court's application of [Supreme Court] precedent ‘unreasonable, ' the state court's decision must have been more than incorrect or erroneous. The state court's application must have been ‘objectively unreasonable.'” Wiggins, 539 U.S. at 520-21 (citations omitted); see also Williams, 529 U.S. at 409. “AEDPA thus imposes a ‘highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, ' and ‘demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.'” Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (quoting Lindh, 521 U.S. at 333, n. 7; Woodford v. Viscotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (per curiam)).

         The United States Supreme Court has held that “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)). The Supreme Court has emphasized “that even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable.” Id. (citing Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003)). A habeas court “must determine what arguments or theories supported or . . . could have supported, the state court's decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior decision” of the Supreme Court. Id. Thus, in order to obtain federal habeas relief, a state prisoner must show that the state court's rejection of a 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.; see also White v. Woodall, U.S., 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014). Federal judges “are required to afford state courts due respect by overturning their decisions only when there could be no reasonable dispute that they were wrong.” Woods v. Donald, U.S., 135 S.Ct. 1372');">135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015). A habeas petitioner cannot prevail as long as it is within the “realm of possibility” that fairminded jurists could find the state court decision to be reasonable. Woods v. Etherton, U.S., 136 S.Ct. 1149, 1152 (2016).

         Section 2254(d)(1) limits a federal court's review to a determination of whether the state court's decision comports with clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court at the time the state court renders its decision. Williams, 529 U.S. at 412; see also Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111, 122 (2009) (noting that the Supreme Court “has held on numerous occasions that it is not ‘an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law' for a state court to decline to apply a specific legal rule that has not been squarely established by this Court”) (quoting Wright v. Van Patten, 552 U.S. 120, 125-26 (2008) (per curiam)); Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 71-72. Section 2254(d) “does not require a state court to give reasons before its decision can be deemed to have been ‘adjudicated on the merits.'” Harrington, 562 U.S. at 100. Furthermore, it “does not require citation of [Supreme Court] cases-indeed, it does not even require awareness of [Supreme Court] cases, so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts them.” Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002); see also Mitchell, 540 U.S. at 16.

         The requirements of “clearly established law” are to be determined solely by Supreme Court precedent. Thus, federal circuit or district court cases do not constitute clearly established Supreme Court law and cannot provide the basis for federal habeas relief. See Parker v. Matthews, 567 U.S.___, 132 S.Ct. 2148, 2155 (2012) (per curiam); see also Lopez v. Smith, ___ U.S. ___135 S.Ct. 1, 2 (2014) (per curiam). The decisions of lower federal courts, however, may be useful in assessing the reasonableness of a state court's decision. Stewart v. Erwin, 503 F.3d 488, 493 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Williams v. Bowersox, 340 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir. 2003)); Dickens v. Jones, 203 F.Supp.2d 354, 359 (E.D. Mich. 2002).

         Lastly, a state court's factual determinations are presumed correct on federal habeas review. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). A petitioner may rebut this presumption with clear and convincing evidence. Warren v. Smith, 161 F.3d 358, 360-61 (6th Cir. 1998). Moreover, habeas review is “limited to the record that was before the state court.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011).

         IV. Discussion

         A. Illegal Arrest/Search and Seizure Claim

         Petitioner first asserts that he is entitled to habeas relief because the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress based upon an illegal arrest, search, and seizure of evidence from his person. Respondent contends that this claim is not cognizable upon habeas review and lacks merit.

         Federal courts will not address a Fourth Amendment claim upon habeas review if the petitioner had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the claim in state court and the presentation of the claim was not thwarted by any failure of the state's corrective processes. See Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 494-95 (1976). A court must perform two distinct inquiries when determining whether a petitioner may raise a claim of illegal arrest in a habeas action. First, the “court must determine whether the state procedural mechanism, in the abstract, presents the opportunity to raise a fourth amendment claim. Second, the court must determine whether presentation of the claim was in fact frustrated because of a failure of that mechanism.” Machacek v. Hofbauer, 213 F.3d 947, 952 (6th Cir. 2000) (quoting Riley v. Gray, 674 F.2d 522 (6th Cir. 1982)).

         “Michigan has a procedural mechanism which presents an adequate opportunity for a criminal defendant to raise a Fourth Amendment claim.” Robinson v. Jackson, 366 F.Supp.2d 524, 527 (E.D. Mich. 2005). This procedural mechanism is a motion to suppress, ordinarily filed before trial. See People v. Ferguson, 376 Mich. 90, 93-94, 135 N.W.2d 357, 358-59 (1965) (describing the availability of a pre-trial motion to suppress); see also People v. Harris, 95 Mich.App. 507, 509, 291 N.W.2d 97, 99 (1980) (analyzing the legality of a warrantless search, seizure, and arrest even though raised for the first time on appeal). Consequently, Petitioner is ...

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