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Bradford v. Haas

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

November 27, 2017

DARIAN BRADFORD, #891157 Petitioner,
RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.



         Darian Bradford filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C.§ 2254. Mr. Bradford is incarcerated at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan.[1] He challenges his convictions for armed robbery, first-degree home invasion, delivery/manufacture of less than five kilograms of marijuana, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, raising the following claims: (1) the evidence presented by the prosecutor was insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) his sentence does not comport with applicable law or due process; and (3) defense counsel was ineffective. Respondent, through the Attorney General's Office, has filed an answer in opposition to the petition, arguing that Mr. Bradford's claims are meritless. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the petition and denies a certificate of appealability.


         Mr. Bradford's convictions arise from a home invasion and robbery at a home on Ilene Street in Detroit. Marcus Davis, a ten-year old resident of the home, testified that on February 15, 2013, he was home with his brother Tyree Stokes, his sister Telease Crooks, and her children Anya, Kamya, and Jaylyn, when someone knocked on the side door. Tyree answered the door and a man walked in pointing a gun at Tyree's head. Marcus ran out the front door and went to a friend's house, where the friend's father called the police. City of Detroit Police Officer Brandolyn Johnson interviewed Marcus that evening. She described him as "hysterical and very frantic." ECF 9-5, PgID 307.

         Marcie Passalacqua, a City of Detroit Police Officer, was one of the first responders on the scene. She knocked on the front door, saw it open briefly and then slam shut. Officer Passalacqua testified that she heard glass breaking upstairs and saw a .22 caliber handgun come out of the window. Officer Joshua Christian arrived at around 10:00 p.m. and approached the side door, where he heard someone call for help. He entered the unlocked door and saw a woman and children lying on the floor. He testified that the woman told him "they're upstairs." ECF 9-2, PgID 179. He heard glass breaking on his way upstairs and saw two men standing "unnaturally close to [a] broken window." ECF 9-5, PgID 324-25. Officer Christian collected three .30 caliber rounds from Mr. Bradford's right jacket pocket. Officer Kevin Chub testified that Mr. Bradford had a backpack containing baggies of marijuana, a silver ring with 38 clear stones, $207 in cash, and four social security cards.

         Officer Jeremy Johnson, Christian's partner, heard glass shattering on the side of the house and saw a man trying to jump out of the window. At trial, he identified that man as the co-defendant and identified Mr. Bradford as the other suspect.

         Tyree Stokes and Telease Crooks also testified to their experiences in the home. Tyree described being held at gunpoint while a taller man and a shorter man rummaged through his things and took his PlayStation. Telease described seeing the taller man go through her purse and then walk upstairs. They testified that both men had guns and ran upstairs when they saw police sirens.

         Mr. Bradford testified in his own defense. The Michigan Court of Appeals accurately summarized his testimony as follows:

He testified that he went to the victims' house to purchase marijuana and that Telease invited him into the house. He denied being associated with defendant Bowman, and claimed that Bowman was already at the house when he arrived. He claimed that he and Telease got into an argument over the price of the marijuana, during which one of the children left the house and summoned the police. When the police arrived, he went upstairs because he was scared. He denied participating in any robbery, possessing a gun, or taking any property that did not belong to him. He claimed that the police "planted" evidence on him at the time of his arrest.

People v. Bowman, No. 318868, 2015 WL 302761, at *2 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 22, 2015).

         Mr. Bradford was tried with co-defendant Dwayne Todd Bowman. Following the two-day bench trial, the Court convicted both defendants of two counts of armed robbery, one count each of first-degree home invasion, and one count each of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Mr. Bradford was also convicted of possession with intent to deliver marijuana. The Court sentenced Petitioner to 15 to 30 years imprisonment for his armed-robbery convictions, 10 to 20 years for his home invasion conviction, 1 to 4 years for his marijuana conviction, and a consecutive 2-year prison term for the felony-firearm conviction.

         Mr. Bradford filed an appeal of right in the Michigan Court of Appeals, arguing that (1) the evidence presented by the prosecutor was insufficient to establish guilt; (2) his sentence did not comport with the law or due process; and (3) he was denied effective assistance of counsel because trial counsel was not prepared. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. Bowman, 2015 WL 302761. Mr. Bradford filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claims raised in the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. People v. Bradford, 498 Mich. 873 (2015). Petitioner then filed the instant petition for habeas relief, raising the same claims presented to the Michigan Court of Appeals.


         The petitioner's claims are reviewed against the standards established by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 ("AEDPA"). AEDPA provides:

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 proceedings.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

         "A state court's decision is 'contrary to' . . . clearly established law if it 'applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court cases]' or if it 'confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [the] precedent.'" Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003) (per curiam) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405- 06 (2000)). "[T]he 'unreasonable application' prong of [the statute] permits a federal habeas court to 'grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts' of petitioner's case." Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 413)). However, "[i]n order for a federal court to find a state court's application of [Supreme Court] precedent 'unreasonable, ' the state court's decision must have been more than incorrect or erroneous. The state court's application must have been 'objectively unreasonable.'" Wiggins, 539 U.S. at 520-21 (citations omitted); see also Williams, 529 U.S. at 409. "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)).

         Section 2254(d)(1) limits a federal habeas court's review to a determination of whether the state court's decision comports with clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court at the time the state court renders its decision. See Williams, 529 U.S. at 412. Section 2254(d) "does not require citation of [Supreme Court] cases-indeed, it does not even require awareness of [Supreme Court] cases, so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts them." Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002). "[W]hile the principles of 'clearly established law' are to be determined solely by resort to Supreme Court rulings, the decisions of lower federal courts may be instructive in assessing the reasonableness of a state court's resolution of an issue." Stewart v. Erwin, 503 F.3d 488, 493 (6th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted).

         Lastly, a federal habeas court must presume the correctness of state court factual determinations. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(e)(1). A petitioner may rebut this presumption only with clear and convincing ...

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