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Moore v. Stewart

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

July 13, 2017

RACHEL MOORE, Petitioner,


          MARK A. GOLDSMITH United States District Judge

         Petitioner Rachel Marie Moore, presently confined at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Dkt. 1), challenging her conviction for first-degree premeditated murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316(1)(a).

         For the reasons stated below, the Court denies the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, declines to issue a certificate of appealability, and grants leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was convicted of the above charge following a jury trial in the Midland County Circuit Court. Her conviction “stem[med] from the shooting death of Brian Reichow, a married man with whom [she] had an on-again-off-again volatile relationship.” People v. Moore, No. 311870, 2013 WL 6037177, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 14, 2013). Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. Id. at *5; People v. Moore, 845 N.W.2d 498 (Mich. 2014) (denying application for leave to appeal because the court was “not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court”).

         Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds:

i. “Ms. Moore's 1st degree murder conviction should be vacated as a matter of due process because the prosecution failed to introduce evidence that Rachel Moore premeditated murder.”
ii. “Ms. Moore should be entitled to a new trial because her 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendment rights to present a defense and to testify at trial were violated. . . . The prosecutor twice argued to the jury to reject Ms. Moore's testimony as incredible for no reason other than that she had a reason to lie because otherwise she would be convicted of murder.”
iii. “Ms. Moore's 6th Amendment rights of Confrontation, cross-examination and assistance of counsel were violated when the . . . jury was exposed to facts not in evidence that addressed the very foundation of her self-defense claim that Mr. Reichow pulled a gun out of his glove box and pointed it at her, which she then seized from him and fired at him to protect herself.” Pet. at 5, 7-8 (cm/ecf pages).


         Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, 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; 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.

         A 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, 405-406 (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 411.

         The Supreme Court has explained that a “federal court's collateral review of a state-court decision must be consistent with the respect due state courts in our federal system.” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003). Thus, the AEDPA “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). 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). The Supreme Court has emphasized “that even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable.” Id. at 102. Furthermore, pursuant to section 2254(d), “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 ...

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