United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND
DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL
A. GOLDSMITH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a habeas case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Michigan prisoner Raphel Dorrough (“Petitioner”)
was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated
causing death, Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.625(4), and
reckless driving causing death, Mich. Comp. Laws §
257.626(4), following a jury trial in the Genesee County
Circuit Court. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 86
months to 15 years imprisonment on those convictions in 2013.
In his pleadings, Petitioner raises jury-instruction claims.
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.
Facts and Procedural History
convictions arise from an impaired driving accident on June
7, 2011 in Genesee County, Michigan. The Michigan Court of
Appeals described the relevant facts, which are presumed
correct on habeas review, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1);
Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009),
During the early morning hours of June 7, 2011, Jaryn Stevens
asked his best friend, Larenzo Bradford, for help because
Stevens's car had run out of gas. Bradford responded to
Stevens's plight, and Stevens got out of his car as
Bradford filled the gas tank for him. Bradford noticed a car
approaching from behind Stevens's car “faster than
normal.” Bradford, concerned that the oncoming vehicle
was going to hit Stevens's car, told Stevens, “[W]e
got to move out of the road.” Just as the oncoming car
was about to hit Stevens's disabled car, it swerved into
the lane where both men were standing, hitting them. Bradford
was injured and Stevens was killed.
People v. Dorrough, No. 315763, 2014 WL 5361721, *1
(Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 21, 2014) (unpublished).
trial, Bradford provided an eyewitness account of the events
leading up to the crash. He stated that he could see lights
approaching them from a distance but “thought nothing
of it.” 2/13/2013 Trial Tr., pp, 223-24 (Dkt. 6-8).
When he realized that Petitioner's car was traveling
faster than normal, he chose to step back toward
Stevens's car. Id. at 226. Bradford stated that
just before the car hit the back of Stevens's car, it
swerved into the curb lane hitting him and Stevens.
Id. at 227. Bradford was struck in the left leg; he
managed, however, to hobble over to where Petitioner's
car had stopped and found Stevens laying in front of the car,
near death. Id. at 228-29. Both Bradford and
Petitioner called 911, and Bradford remained at Stevens's
side until the paramedics arrived. Id. at 232, 234.
The paramedic testified that, on arrival, Stevens exhibited
no signs of life. Id. at 286. Even so, he tried to
resuscitate Stevens using CPR and a cardiac monitor, but
Stevens flat-lined at approximately 3:30 a.m. Id. at
testimony revealed that at the time of the crash,
Petitioner's blood alcohol level was between 0.091 and
0.137. 2/14/2013 Trial Tr., pp. 131-32 (Dkt. 6-9).
Petitioner's blood also tested positive for
tetahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound found in marijuana, and
Alprazolam (Xanax). Id. at 136, 138. A biochemistry
and toxicology expert testified that Petitioner was impaired
when he struck the two young men. Id. at 138.
accident reconstruction expert testified that when he arrived
on the scene, Stevens's flashers were still on.
10/17/2012 Trial Tr., p. 8 (Dkt. 6-4). Based on his
calculations, Petitioner was traveling approximately 65 miles
per hour and he failed to apply the brakes until the very
last second before swerving into the two young men.
Id. at 11-12. The expert opined that if Petitioner
was traveling at the speed limit of 35 miles per hour and had
applied his brakes, he would not have hit Stevens.
Id. at 55-56. The expert ultimately determined that
Petitioner was at fault for the crash and that speed was the
main factor. Id. at 62-63.
his convictions and sentencing, Petitioner pursued an appeal
of right with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising the same
claim presented on habeas review. The court denied relief on
his claims and affirmed his convictions. Dorrough,
2014 WL 5361721 at *1-5. Petitioner then filed an application
for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which
that Court denied in a standard order. People v.
Dorrough, 497 Mich. 984, 861 N.W.2d 4 (2015).
thereafter filed his federal habeas petition. He raises the
I. The trial court violated his Fourteenth Amendment Due
Process Clause right by not instructing the jury on
II. The trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on
the lesser offenses of impaired driving and/or reckless
has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should
be denied for lack of merit.
Standard of Review
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 ...