United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ALPHONZO D. CHAPMAN, Petitioner,
S.L. BURT, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY OR LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
D. Chapman, (“Petitioner”), confined at the
Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan, filed a
pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in which he challenges his
conviction for three counts of first-degree criminal sexual
conduct, M.C.L.A. 750.520b(1)(A), and two counts of
second-degree criminal sexual conduct, M.C.L.A.
750.520c(1)(A). For the reasons that follow, the petition for
writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.
was convicted following a jury trial in the Wayne County
Circuit Court. The victim in this case was petitioner's
girlfriend's daughter, who testified that petitioner
sexually assaulted her numerous times while petitioner lived
with her family.
conviction was affirmed on appeal. People v.
Chapman, No. 327152 (Mich.Ct.App. Sep. 18, 2015);
lv. den. 499 Mich. 915, 877 N.W.2d 899 (2016).
seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds:
I. Did the prosecutor elict [sic] testimonial evidence
against Mr. Chapman that was prejudicial, inflamatory [sic]
and was irrelevant to whether Mr. Chapman committed the
crimes he was charged with and therefore Mr. Chapman was
denied a fair and impartial trial in violation of his state
and federally mandated right to due process of law?
II. Was Mr. Chapman denied effective assistance of counsel at
his trial because his trial counsel did not object to
questions posed by the prosecutor from the victim and her
family that elicited testimony that was prejudicial,
inflamatory [sic] and was irrelevant to whether Mr. Chapman
committed the crimes he was charged with?
III. Did the trial court abuse its discretion by not allowing
Mr. Chapman's counsel to withdraw?
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). 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.” Id. at 103.
Michigan Court of Appeals denied petitioner's application
for leave to appeal on petitioner's direct appeal in a
form order “for lack of merit in the grounds
presented.” The Michigan Supreme Court subsequently
denied the petitioner leave to appeal in a standard form
order without any extended discussion. Determining whether a
state court's decision resulted from an unreasonable
legal or factual conclusion, as would warrant federal habeas
relief, does not require that there be an opinion from the
state court that explains the state court's reasoning.
Harrington, 562 U.S. at 98. “Where a state
court's decision is unaccompanied by an explanation, the
habeas petitioner's burden still must be met by showing
there was no reasonable basis for the state court to deny
relief.” Id. In fact, when a habeas petitioner
has presented a federal claim to a state court and that state
court has denied relief, “it may be presumed that the
state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the
absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles
to the contrary.” Id. at 99. That presumption
may be overcome only when there is a reason to think that
some other explanation for the state court's decision is
more likely. Id. at 99-100.
AEDPA deferential standard of review applies to
petitioner's claims where the Michigan Court of Appeals
rejected petitioner's appeal “for lack of merit in
the grounds presented” and the Michigan Supreme Court
subsequently denied leave to appeal in a standard form order,
because these orders ...