United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Anthony P. Patti, Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
J. MICHELSON, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Logan Scott Gaines was a senior in high school, he had sex
with a freshman girl. After graduation, Gaines continued to
seek out sexual relationships with girls as young as
thirteen. Gaines would meet the girls through his work as a
high school track coach, or through social media. Gaines'
relationships were eventually discovered and they led to
criminal charges and convictions.
served a term in state prison and is currently on
parole. Through counsel, he petitions this Court
for a writ of habeas corpus. Gaines attacks the
constitutionality of his convictions for several counts of
third-degree criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.520d(1)(a), and several counts of accosting, enticing, or
soliciting a child for immoral purposes, Mich. Comp. Laws
criminal convictions stem from sexual relationships with
three minor females.
fifteen-year-old A.W. at a high school party. After the
party, Gaines, then eighteen, had sex with her. (R. 7, PID
relationships with minors continued after he graduated. While
in college, Gaines volunteered as a track coach for his old
high school. (R. 7, PID 499.) That is how Gaines met C.P.
(Id. at 611-12.) She was fourteen at the time.
(Id. at 499.) Gaines coached C.P., and despite
knowing that C.P. was not old enough to drive, eventually
started asking her to send nude photos in exchange for his
coaching. (R. 7, PID 613-14.) C.P. sent the photos, and
Gaines asked her not to tell anyone about them. (Id.
the same time, Gaines sought out M.M. (R. 7, PID 590.) M.M.
was thirteen when Gaines met her at a barn party. (R. 7, PID
651.) Gaines started to message her through social media.
(Id.) About a month into their correspondence,
Gaines asked M.M. to send nude photos and M.M. obliged. (R.
7, PID 592.) Eventually the pair arranged to meet at
Gaines' house, and on multiple occasions Gaines digitally
penetrated her. (R. 7, PID 593-94.) Just as with C.P., Gaines
asked M.M. to keep their relationship a secret. (R. 7, PID
598.) But at least once, M.M. brought a friend who witnessed
Gaines digitally penetrate M.M. (R. 7, PID 595).
time, M.M.'s father discovered the nude photos M.M. sent
Gaines and called the police. (R. 7, PID 590.) Initially,
Gaines denied ever receiving nude photos. (R. 7, PID 606.)
But after police showed him screenshots recovered from
M.M.'s phone, Gaines admitted to receiving the images and
digitally penetrating M.M. (R. 7, PID 606.)
trial, Gaines told the jury a different story. He said he
never had sex with A.W., C.P., or M.M. (R. 7, PID 649,
652-53.) And contrary to the testimony of investigators,
Gaines also denied digitally penetrating M.M. (R. 7, PID
652-53.) Gaines said it was the girls who first suggested
sending pictures. (R. 7, PID 651, 653.) Gaines only persisted
in asking once they offered. (R. 7, PID 653.) He also said
that he believed that M.M. and C.P. were sixteen at the time.
(R. 7, PID 651, 653.)
judge consolidated the three cases for trial, and a jury
convicted Gaines on four counts of third-degree criminal
sexual conduct as well as two counts of accosting a child for
an immoral purpose. (R. 1, PID 3-4.) Following his
conviction, the judge denied Gaines' motions for a new
trial and an evidentiary hearing. People v. Gaines,
No. 10-035017-19 FH-3 (Saginaw Cty. Cir. Ct. Oct. 29, 2012).
The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Gaines'
convictions and the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to
appeal. People v. Gaines, 856 N.W.2d 222 (Mich. Ct.
App. 2014); lv. den. 861 N.W.2d 29 (Mich. 2015).
Gaines seeks a writ of habeas corpus. (R. 1.) He raises
numerous challenges. In summary, Gaines says the charging
documents violated due process; challenges the
constitutionality of Michigan's accosting statute;
contests the joinder of the three cases for trial; calls into
question the sufficiency of the evidence; believes the trial
court allowed the jury to consider impermissible evidence;
points to instances of prosecutorial misconduct; argues he
was compelled to testify; complains of Confrontation Clause
violations; questions the effectiveness of trial
counsel's assistance; says he was denied a fair trial;
contends the judge erroneously instructed the jury; and
raises cumulative error. All are meritless.
Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act instructs
federal courts to give state courts “the benefit of the
doubt.” Stewart v. Trierweiler, 867 F.3d 633,
636 (6th Cir. 2017). According to AEDPA, a federal court must
defer to a state court's decision “on the
merits” unless the decision (1) “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) “was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented in the State court proceeding.”
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). But “[w]hen a
state court does not address a claim on the merits, . . .
‘AEDPA deference' does not apply and [this Court]
will review the claim de novo.” Bies v.
Sheldon, 775 F.3d 386, 395 (6th Cir. 2014).
broadest claim for relief challenges the constitutionality of
Michigan's accosting statute, Michigan Compiled Laws
§ 750.145a. Based on Gaines' repeated requests for
nude photos of M.M. and C.P., the jury convicted Gaines on
two counts of accosting.
Gaines says the statute is too vague to allow an ordinary
person to understand what conduct is prohibited. (R. 1, PID
97-99.) The statute uses the phrase “immoral
act.” Gaines contends that “immoral act” is
too broadly phrased to give anyone fair warning. (R. 1, PID
98.) And the statute's failure to give fair warning vests
complete discretion in a jury to determine whether someone
violates the statute. (Id.) He also thinks
“immoral act” leaves the statute so broadly
written that it impinges on First Amendment freedoms. (R. 7,
Michigan Court of Appeals adjudicated this claim on the
merits. The state court referenced the dictionary definition
of “immoral” to show that an ordinary person
would know an “immoral act” is limited to
licentious or lascivious acts. Gaines, 856 N.W.2d at
243. And, said the appellate court, both licentious and
lascivious mean acts “arousing sexual desire.”
Id. So the scope of immoral acts is limited solely
to those acts that arouse sexual desire. Id. Thus,
the Court of Appeals reasoned, the statute puts an ordinary
person on clear notice that asking a child to do something
arousing sexual desire could bring criminal charges.
Id. The state court likewise rejected Gaines'
First Amendment challenge. Because a statute punishing those
who ask a child to perform an act arousing sexual desire only
targets conduct, the law poses no danger to protected speech.
Id. at 244. Because this claim was adjudicated on
the merits, § 2254(d) applies.
Gaines disagrees with the state court's analysis of the
statute's vagueness. Gaines says the Michigan Court of
Appeals unreasonably applied Giaccio v.
Pennsylvania, 382 U.S. 399 (1966), City of Chicago
v. Morales, 527 U.S. 41 (1999), and Cox v.
Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536 (1965). (R. 1, PID 97.) All of
these cases apply the general, void-for-vagueness doctrine.
The doctrine “requires that a penal statute define the
criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary
people can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a
manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory
enforcement.” Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S.
352, 357 (1983). The vagueness doctrine also requires
“that vagueness challenges to statutes . . . be
examined in the light of the facts of the case at
hand.” United States v. Powell, 423 U.S. 87,
Gaines has a point that the statute is broadly written, the
Michigan Court of Appeals construed the words “immoral
act” to mean “arousing sexual desire.” This
federal court, especially when deciding whether to issue a
writ of habeas corpus, has no authority to revisit the
meaning assigned by a state court to words in a state
statute. See Bradshaw v. Richey, 546 U.S. 74, 76
(2005). Thus, this Court's task is limited to deciding
whether “arousing sexual desire” is too vague to
give fair notice.
statute provided Gaines with fair notice. For one, consistent
with Powell, the state court analyzed the statute in
the context of Gaines' conduct. Powell, 423 U.S.
at 92. Gaines' text messages show that he knew he was
asking children to send nude photos. (See, e.g., R.
7, PID 555, 558-59.) He did not think C.P. was old enough to
drive, and repeatedly told M.M. that sexual contact between
them would be “illegal.” (Id.) And the
purpose of soliciting a child to send a nude photo is to
arouse sexual desire. So even if the statute is broadly
phrased, the state court reasonably concluded that the law
put Gaines on notice that asking a child to send nude photos
fell within the narrowed definition of an immoral act.
See, e.g., United States v. Clark, 582 F.3d
607 (5th. Cir. 2009) (rejecting vagueness challenge to
federal criminal statute that prohibits importation of an
alien for prostitution or “other immoral
purposes”). Thus, on his vagueness challenge, Gaines
cannot clear the high bar set by § 2254(d).
to his First Amendment challenge, Gaines says the Michigan
Court of Appeals unreasonably applied New York v.
Ferber, 458 U.S. 747 (1982). (R. 1, PID 99.) Gaines'
strongest argument is that the statute's use of
“immoral act” proscribes constitutionally
protected speech such as a mother's recommending an
abortion to her child or skipping mass on Sundays. (R. 1, PID
Ferber upheld a state criminal statute prohibiting
the distribution of material depicting sexual performances by
children under sixteen. 458 U.S. at 749. The Court found no
First Amendment violation where a state statute sought to
punish harmful conduct: exploitative and abusive depictions
of children. Id. And on habeas corpus review,
“overbreadth scrutiny diminishes as the behavior
regulated by the statute moves from pure speech toward
harmful, unprotected conduct.” Staley v.
Jones, 239 F.3d 769, 785 (6th Cir. 2001).
again, because this argument involves a state court's
interpretation of a state statute, the Court's only task
is to assess whether precluding conduct arousing sexual
desire violates the First Amendment. Here, the Michigan Court
of Appeals reasonably concluded that § 750.145a posed no
danger to protected speech like abortion counseling or urging
a child to skip church. The state court held that the
accosting statute only punished criminal activity, such as
soliciting a child to produce pornography. Gaines,
856 N.W.2d at 244. That is exactly the type of exploitative
conduct Ferber says a state may constitutionally
punish. As the conclusion reached by the Michigan Court of
Appeals is in line with Ferber, Gaines cannot
overcome § 2254(d). He is not entitled to relief.
next batch of claims allege a denial of his right to confront
his accusers. Gaines contends the trial court improperly
excluded a portion of A.W.'s testimony; constrained
defense counsel's ability to cross-examine the victims
about other people to whom they sent nude photos; and limited
defense counsel's latitude to cross-examine the victims
about their sexual encounters with other men.
says the trial court committed a Confrontation Clause
violation by improperly excluding a portion of A.W.'s
testimony. On cross, defense counsel asked A.W., “[d]id
anyone indicate to you what would happen if you didn't
come [to testify]?” (R. 7, PID 505.) A.W. said yes, so
defense counsel asked, “[a]nd that would be that you
would be taken to jail?” (Id.) But before A.W.
could answer, the prosecutor objected on hearsay grounds and
the judge sustained the objection. (R. 7, PID 505-06.) Gaines
says excluding A.W.'s testimony regarding a potential
source of bias violated his Confrontation Clause rights. (R.
1, PID 66-67.)
Michigan Court of Appeals adjudicated this claim on the
merits. The state court concluded that though the trial court
erred in excluding the evidence, the error was harmless.
Gaines, 856 N.W.2d at 237. The appellate court
reasoned that plenty of evidence already indicated that A.W.
did not want to testify so as not to get Gaines in trouble.
Id. at 236. So any further investigation of her
unwillingness to testify would have been cumulative.
contends the trial court contravened Supreme Court precedent
holding that the Confrontation Clause permits a defendant to
inquire into bases for bias, prejudice, or lack of
credibility. See Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 347
(1974). (R. 1, PID 65.)
record shows Gaines had ample opportunity to examine
A.W.'s potential bias or lack of credibility. And the
Confrontation Clause permits limits on the extent of a
cross-examination, especially when cumulative. See
Delaware v. Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673, 679 (1986). A.W.
told the jury she was upset at having to testify and twice
said she felt responsible for Gaines' criminal charges.
(R. 7, PID 503.) To keep Gaines out of trouble, A.W. said she
initially told the police nothing occurred between them. (R.
7, PID 504.) But she changed that story at trial, and only
because the state subpoenaed her. (R. 7, PID 503-05.) In sum,
the jury heard evidence of A.W.'s reluctance to testify
and her changing story. Hearing about the consequences of