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Krammes v. Haas

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

November 30, 2017

RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.


          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Jeffrey[1] Krammes, a state prisoner at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven, Michigan, has filed a pro se petition for the writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Krammes challenges his Wayne County, Michigan convictions for criminal sexual conduct and domestic violence. He alleges as grounds for relief that certain testimony was improperly admitted at his trial and that his sentence is cruel and unusual punishment. The State argues in an answer to the petition that Krammes' evidentiary claim is not cognizable on habeas review, that Krammes' sentence is constitutional, and that the state appellate court reasonably denied relief on both of Krammes' claims. The Court agrees that Krammes' claims do not warrant habeas relief. Accordingly, the habeas petition will be denied.


         Krammes was charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520c(1)(b), and domestic violence, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.81(2). The charges arose from an incident that occurred in Krammes' home on July 11, 2012, in Woodhaven, Michigan. Krammes was tried before a jury in Wayne County Circuit Court, where

the victim and defendant's girlfriend testified to the following facts. Defendant awoke his 14-year-old daughter, the victim, in the early morning to watch television. The victim and defendant were in defendant's home, where the victim lived with defendant and defendant's girlfriend. Defendant and the victim lay down together on the couch. Defendant pulled down the victim's shorts, got on top of her, and began touching her genitals with his genitals. Defendant then penetrated the victim and began having intercourse with her. Defendant's girlfriend, who had been asleep upstairs, came downstairs and witnessed defendant and the victim having intercourse. Defendant's girlfriend contacted the police later that morning. In addition to the victim and defendant's girlfriend, defendant's older daughter testified that defendant had committed sexual acts against her 20 years before. Defendant testified on his own behalf, and denied any sexual contact or penetration with the victim or his older daughter. Defendant asserted that his girlfriend reported him to police because he had ended their relationship the morning after the alleged incident because she had a drug addiction. Defendant further stated that he was convicted after taking a plea for the sexual assault of his older daughter, and served three and a half years in prison. According to defendant, he took a plea to avoid losing custody of his older daughter.

People v. Krammes, No. 314386, 2014 WL 2881155, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. June 24, 2014).

         The domestic violence charge arose from testimony that Krammes struck his girlfriend on the face with his fist after the girlfriend witnessed Krammes having sexual intercourse with his daughter. 11/13/12 Trial Tr., pp. 132, 154-55. Petitioner also denied that charge. 11/14/12 Trial Tr., p. 94.

         On November 14, 2012, the jury found Krammes guilty, as charged, of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and domestic violence. Id., pp. 144-45. On December 4, 2012, the trial court sentenced Krammes as a habitual offender, fourth offense, to a term of twenty-five to forty years in prison for the criminal sexual conduct and to a concurrent term of three months in prison for the domestic violence, with 146 days of jail credit. 12/4/12 Sentence Tr., p.28.

         Krammes raised his habeas claims in an appeal of right, but the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions and sentence in an unpublished, per curiam opinion. See Krammes, 2014 WL 2881155. On November 25, 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. See People v. Krammes, 497 Mich. 905 (2014). On December 29, 2015, Krammes filed his habeas corpus petition.


         Krammes' first claim alleges that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the prosecution to present testimony from Krammes' older daughter. The State maintains that Krammes did not exhaust state remedies for this claim by presenting the claim as a federal constitutional issue in state court.

         The doctrine of exhaustion of state remedies requires habeas petitioners to fairly present their claims to the state courts before raising the claims in a federal habeas petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 414-15 (6th Cir. 2009). "This does not mean that the applicant must recite 'chapter and verse' of constitutional law, " Wagner, 581 F.3d at 415, but "the habeas petitioner must present his claim to the state courts as a federal constitutional issue-not merely as an issue arising under state law." Koontz v. Glossa, 731 F.2d 365, 368 (6th Cir. 1984).

         Although Krammes did not raise his first claim as a federal constitutional issue in state court, he also has not raised the claim as a federal constitutional issue here. Therefore, his claim is plainly meritless, because the Court may entertain an application for the writ of habeas corpus only if the petitioner "is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Furthermore, the exhaustion rule is not a jurisdictional requirement. Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 349 (1989). A federal district court may deny a habeas petition on the merits despite the petitioner's failure to exhaust state remedies for his claim. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2). Accordingly, the Court proceeds to address Krammes' claims rather than dismissing the petition on the basis of Krammes' failure to exhaust state remedies for all his claims.


         Pursuant to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), the following standard applies in federal 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 ...

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