United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
CHARLES E. BINDER MAGISTRATE JUDGE
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS (AFTER REMAND)
M. LAWSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the Court once again, this time after remand
by the court of appeals. The Court had denied the petition,
addressing primarily the question whether a computer glitch
by the Kent County, Michigan jury clerk resulting in
systematic exclusion of minority jurors from the jury pool
denied the petitioner his right to a jury composed of a fair
cross-section of the community, as guaranteed by the Sixth
Amendment. Parks v. Warren, 773 F.Supp.2d 715 (E.D.
Mich. 2011), on reconsideration in part, No.
05-10036, 2011 WL 5838486 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 21, 2011),
abrogated by Garcia-Dorantes v. Warren, 978
F.Supp.2d 815 (E.D. Mich. 2013), vacated No. 11-2531
(6th Cir. Feb. 18, 2014). The Court also rejected the
petitioner's challenge to the prosecutor's use of
peremptory challenges of minority jurors asserted under
Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
addressing the petitioner's fair cross-section claim,
this Court held that such a defect amounted to a structural
error, absolving the petitioner of the obligation to prove
prejudice. The Court denied the claim nonetheless, because
the statistical evidence failed to show that “the
representation of [the excluded] group in venires from which
juries are selected is not fair and reasonable in relation to
the number of such persons in the community.”
Parks, 773 F.Supp.2d at 727 (quoting Duren v.
Missouri, 439 U.S. 357, 364 (1979)). Since that time,
however, the court of appeals has held that even if the Kent
County aberration, which was addrressed in other federal
habeas cases as well, was a structural error, a habeas
petitioner must show prejudice to overcome a
procedural-default defense asserted by the state. See
Ambrose v. Booker, 684 F.3d 638, 649 (6th Cir. 2012).
The court of appeals remanded this case so this Court could
address the issue of prejudice. The court of appeals also
observed that when considering the petitioner's
Batson issue, this court overlooked a voir
dire transcript that was in the record. The remand
instruction allowed this Court to “consider any
arguments Parks may wish to make” on that issue.
Court has reviewed the record and concludes that no prejudice
has been demonstrated that would entitle the petitioner to
habeas relief on his fair cross-section argument. The Court
also has reviewed the voir dire transcript and finds
no merit in the Batson issue. Therefore, the
petition for writ of habeas corpus will be denied.
petitioner did not raise either his fair cross-section claim
or his Batson challenge in the state trial court,
and therefore the issue of procedural default was central to
this Court's previous decisions. A procedural default is
“a critical failure to comply with state procedural
law.” Trest v. Cain, 522 U.S. 87, 89 (1997).
It will bar consideration of the merits of a federal claim if
the state rule is actually enforced and is an adequate and
independent ground for the state court's decision.
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991);
Monzo v. Edwards, 281 F.3d 568, 576 (6th Cir. 2002).
A procedural default can be excused by a showing of cause and
prejudice. Coleman, 501 U.S. at 750. The Court has
found cause to excuse the petitioner's lack of objection
to the fair cross-section claim, and there is no reason to
revisit that determination. To show prejudice, the petitioner
must show that a “careful review of [the] trial record
indicates that there is a reasonable probability that a
different jury would have reached a different result.”
Ambrose, 684 F.3d at 649 (citing Francis v.
Henderson, 425 U.S. 536 (1976)); id. at 598,
599 n.8 (“The question is not whether the petitioner
missed his chance to stand trial before a more merciful jury
panel or a panel with a particular racial balance, but rather
whether there is a reasonable probability that a different
jury would have reached a different result.”
(quotations omitted)). “The most important aspect to
the inquiry is the strength of the case against the
defendant.” Id. at 593. If the Court finds
that the trial record shows “a case against [the
petitioner] so strong, and [a] defense so weak, that [it
would be] highly improbable that an unbiased jury could
acquit, ” then “actual prejudice would not be
shown.” Id. at 593-94 (quotations and
proper determination of prejudice, therefore, requires a
review of the trial evidence.
essence of the case is a charge of sexual assault by the
petitioner. The victim, Beverly Jefferson, claimed that the
petitioner penetrated her three times against her will, and
the petitioner asserted that the sexual encounter was
consensual in exchange for money. A Kent County, Michigan
jury rejected the petitioner's version and convicted him.
The petitioner was sentenced on November 29, 2001 to a prison
term of fifteen to forty years. He was released on parole on
April 21, 2016, and his term of supervised release presently
is set to end on April 21, 2018.
trial, complainant Beverly Jefferson testified that, on the
morning of April 22, 2001, she was roused from bed by a loud
knock at her door. Trial Tr. Vol. II at 56 (Oct. 16, 2001)
(Pg ID 246). Jefferson opened the door and encountered a man,
whom she had not met before and did not recognize, but whom
she identified at trial as Parks, who asked to use her phone.
Id. at 57, 63. Jefferson allowed the man to enter,
and directed him to a sofa in the front room, where he sat
down and made two calls. Id. at 57-58.
Parks finished using the phone, Jefferson told him it was
time for him to leave, and in response Parks “stood up,
and he came around [the] coffee table, and he hit [Jefferson]
in the mouth.” Id. at 60. Jefferson fell down
between the sofa and a chair, and Parks then hit her again.
Ibid. Jefferson asked Parks if he was going to rape
her, and Parks responded by telling her to take off her
pants, or he would hit her again. Id. at 60-61.
Parks took a condom out of his pocket, told Jefferson to lay
on the floor, and proceeded to rape her. Id. at 61.
Parks was done, Jefferson asked if she could go to the
bathroom and if Parks would help her up from the floor.
Id. at 61-62. Parks then followed Jefferson through
the kitchen toward the bathroom, and on her way through the
kitchen Jefferson grabbed a knife and “ran at him with
it.” Id. at 62. Parks ran into the bedroom as
Jefferson pursued him with the knife, telling him repeatedly
to leave. Id. at 62-63. Parks seized a laundry
basket full of clothes from the bedroom and used it to fend
off Jefferson's advance by swinging the basket around
until the clothes flew out and the handle broke off the
basket. Id. at 63-64. At some point the two wound up
back in the front room, where Parks told Jefferson he was not
going to leave, and that he would break her TV and VCR.
Id. at 64-65. Jefferson then desisted and put down
the knife, because she did not want Parks to further ravage
her home. Id. at 65.
then told Jefferson to give him the knife, which she did, and
then he told her to go to the bedroom, where he had sex with
her again and made her perform oral sex on him. Id.
at 65-67. While they were in the bedroom, Parks told
Jefferson, “I've been watching you a long time,
” and “I really like you.” Id. at
67. Parks then fell into a state of half-sleep on the bed,
nodding in and out, with the knife still in his hand.
Id. at 68. Eventually Parks fell fully asleep and
the knife slipped out of his hand, at which point Jefferson
seized the knife, went to the front room, dialed 911, told
the police she had been raped, and asked them to send an
officer immediately. Id. at 68-69.
she waited for the police, Jefferson heard Parks begin to
rouse, and she called back and asked the police to hurry
because the man who had raped her still was in her house and
was waking up. Id. at 69-70. Before the police
arrived, Parks woke up, came out to the front room, and told
Jefferson to get on the floor, where he proceeded to rape her
again. Id. at 70-71. Jefferson heard police coming
up the stairs to her door, and she began screaming, but Parks
held his hand over her mouth in an attempt to silence her.
Id. at 71. The police then kicked in the door and
ordered Parks to get off of Jefferson and get down on the
ground. Id. at 71. After Parks was arrested by the
police, Jefferson was taken to the emergency room where she
received stitches to close two injuries to her inner and
outer lip. Id. at 73.
Police and Medical Treaters
Rapids Police Officer Michael LaFave testified that he was
dispatched to Jefferson's home around 8:50 p.m., in
response to a report of a rape that had just occurred. Trial
Tr. Vol. II at 128-29 (Oct. 16, 2001) (Pg ID 264-65). LaFave
was on patrol less than a block away from Jefferson's
residence, and it took him less than a minute to arrive.
Ibid. When he arrived, he walked up the stairs and
knocked on the door. Id. at 129. LaFave heard
“some bumping around” inside the apartment, and
“a female inside called to [him]” and told him to
come in. Ibid. LaFave tried the door, but it was
locked; when he yelled that the door was locked and he could
not enter, the female “tried to scream, a real
terrified scream, ” and again told him to come in.
Ibid. LaFave then kicked in the door and, upon
entering the apartment, saw Jefferson on her back on the
floor and Parks on his knees over her, with his pants around
his knees, “doing something sexual.”
Ibid. Parks stood up and lunged at LaFave, who drew
his weapon and ordered Parks to get on the ground; Parks
looked at LaFave, and then complied. Id. at 129-30.
scene technician Julie Chan testified that she was dispatched
to Jefferson's apartment around 9:00 a.m. on the morning
following the incident. Trial Tr. Vol. III at 22-23 (Oct. 17,
2001) (Pg ID 274). Jefferson was still in the apartment when
Chan arrived. Id. at 24. Chan photographed the scene
and Jefferson's injuries, and she collected a knife from
the scene after Jefferson pulled back a rug and showed Chan
where it was. Id. at 23-24. Chan also collected what
appeared to be a used condom, and she dusted the knife and a
fan that she found on the bed in the bedroom for
fingerprints. Id. at 24-27. Jefferson stated that
she did not know how the fan got on the bed. Id. at
25. Chan did not find any fingerprints on the knife, but she
testified that prints she lifted from the fan matched the
petitioner. Id. at 26-27.
room doctor Brian Buller testified that he treated Jefferson
around 9:55 a.m. on the morning following the incident for a
laceration on the inside of her left upper lip, which
required stitches to close. Trial Tr. Vol III. at 11-13 (Oct.
17, 2001) (Pg ID 271). Buller stated that the injury appeared
to him to be less than twelve hours old. Id. at 12.
assault nurse Suzanne Reiter saw Jefferson at her office
around 11:00 a.m. on the morning following the incident.
Trial Tr. Vol. II at 38 (Oct. 16, 2001) (Pg ID 242). She
noted injuries to Jefferson's mouth that appeared to be
“very fresh.” Id. at 39. Reiter examined
Jefferson and noted multiple abrasions and lacerations around
her genitalia and anus; she observed that one of the
lacerations still was bleeding. Id. at 41. Reiter
testified based on her experience that the injuries were