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
APPEALABILITY OR LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
F. Cox, U.S. District Judge.
Lamar Williams, (“petitioner”), incarcerated at
the Carson City Correctional Facility in Carson City,
Michigan, seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ 2254. In his pro se
application, petitioner challenges his conviction for
voluntary manslaughter, M.C.L.A. 750.321, larceny from a
person, M.C.L.A. 750.357, possession of a firearm by a felon,
M.C.L.A. 750.224f, felony-firearm, M.C.L.A. 750.227b, and
being a third felony habitual offender, M.C.L.A. 769.11. For
the reasons stated below, the petition for writ of habeas
corpus is DENIED.
was originally charged with first-degree murder, larceny from
a person, possession of a firearm by a felon, and
felony-firearm. Following a preliminary examination,
petitioner was bound over to the Wayne County Circuit Court
on a reduced charge of second-degree murder and on the other
charges. Petitioner was convicted following a jury trial of
the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter and guilty as
charged of the remaining offenses. This Court recites
verbatim the relevant facts regarding petitioner's
conviction from the Michigan Court of Appeals's opinion,
which are presumed correct on habeas review pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). See e.g., Wagner v.
Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009):
Defendant shot and killed Cortez McCollum in the city of
Detroit. Defendant does not dispute this fact. He claims that
he acted in self-defense. Shayvonna Smith was the only known
eyewitness. When she failed to appear at the preliminary
examination, the prosecution obtained a material witness
detainer in order to produce her at the rescheduled
Defendant argues that, under the circumstances, the
prosecution's efforts to produce Smith as a witness at
trial fell short of due diligence. Therefore, defendant
argues, Smith's prior testimony was improperly introduced
. . . .
Defendant's theory at trial was that he had acted in
self-defense. Smith testified at the preliminary examination
that the victim had initiated a physical fight with defendant
by striking defendant with a glass bottle. According to
Smith, it was only after being struck that defendant drew a
gun and shot the victim.
People v. Williams, No. 310441, 2013 WL 3815633, at
* 1-2 (Mich. Ct. App. July 23, 2013).
conviction was affirmed on appeal. Id., lv. den. lv.
Den. 495 Mich. 903, 839 N.W.2d 455 (Mich. 2013).
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, seeking habeas
relief on the following grounds: I. Due diligence (abuse of
discretion); and II. Sixth Amendment constitutional right to
petition was dismissed without prejudice, because petitioner
had failed to properly exhaust his second claim alleging a
violation of the Confrontation Clause with the state courts.
Williams v. Rapelje, No. 2:14-CV-10408, 2014 WL
4537438 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 11, 2014).
filed a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment,
which was denied. People v. Williams, No.
12-000747-FC (Third Jud.Cir.Ct., Mar. 20, 2015). The Michigan
appellate courts denied petitioner leave to appeal.
People v. Williams, No. 328905 (Mich.Ct.App. Nov. 4,
2015); lv. Den. 499 Mich. 968, 880 N.W.2d 538
Court granted petitioner's motion to reopen the case and
to file an amended petition. Williams v. Campbell,
No. 2:14-CV-10408, 2017 WL 895818 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 6, 2017).
amended habeas petition, petitioner seeks relief on the
I. Whether or not petitioner was denied his constitutional
right to the effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth
Amendment when counsel failed to do a thorough pretrial
investigation which would have led to the discovery of
additional witnesses that supported petitioner's theory
of defense [self-defense]; counsel's failure to
investigate was a miscarriage of justice and denied
petitioner right to a fair trial. Thus due process of law.
U.S. Const. Ams. VI, XIV.
II. Whether or not petitioner was deprived of counsel where
the Wayne County [Circuit Court]'s unconstitutional
practice of assigning counsel on the exact same day of the
preliminary examination, which has already been federally
condemned, constitutes a state impediment to the effective
assistance of counsel and effectively served to
constructively deprive petitioner of his right to counsel at
all critical stages of the judicial proceedings, where due to
the appointment on the same day of the preliminary
examination counsel did not have the opportunity to
meaningfully consult with his client, to receive necessary
discovery, and to prepare for the case either factually or
legally requiring automatic reversal because structural error
resulted, appellate counsel was ineffective where counsel
failed and/or refused to file this issue as a supplemental
issue on direct appeal. U.S. Const. Ams. VI, XIV.
III. Whether or not petitioner was denied his Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights to effective assistance of
counsel during the plea bargaining phase proceedings. U.S.
Const. Ams. VI, XIV.
IV. Whether or not petitioner was denied effective assistance
of appellate counsel for failure to raise obvious stronger
issues that can be considered “dead-bang”
winners, thus entitling petitioner to a new appeal of right.
V. Whether or not petitioner is entitled to a new trial where
the trial court abused its discretion in finding due
diligence as to Ms. Smith, a res gestae witness, thus
permitting admission of her previous testimony.
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:
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)). 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 (citing Lockyer v. Andrade, 538
U.S. 63, 75 (2003)).
pursuant to § 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 theories are inconsistent
with the holding in a prior decision” of the Supreme
this standard is difficult to meet, that is because it was
meant to be.” Harrington, 562 U.S. at 102.
Although 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the AEDPA,
does not completely bar federal courts from relitigating
claims that have previously been rejected in the state
courts, it preserves the authority for a federal court to
grant habeas relief only “in cases where there is no
possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state
court's decision conflicts with” the Supreme
Court's precedents. Id. Indeed, “Section
2254(d) reflects the view that habeas corpus is a
‘guard against extreme malfunctions in the state
criminal justice systems, ' not a substitute for ordinary
error correction through appeal.” Id. at
102-03 (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307,
332, n. 5 (1979))(Stevens, J., concurring in judgment)).
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.” Id.