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Perez-Garcia v. Woods

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

February 6, 2018

JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.


          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III, United States District Judge

         Oscar Ivann Perez-Garcia, ("Petitioner" or "Perez-Garcia"), filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Perez-Garcia challenges his convictions for first-degree murder, kidnapping, first-degree home invasion, arson, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the petition for writ of habeas corpus.


         After a trial in Wayne County Circuit Court, a jury convicted Perez-Garcia. Petitioner's convictions arose from the March 2005 murder of Julio Perez in Detroit. At the time of his arrest, Perez-Garcia allegedly requested counsel. Perez-Garcia v. Berghuis, No. 09-10839, 2010 WL 3905118, at *1-2 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 30, 2010). Perez-Garcia claims he repeated the request when he arrived at the police station. Id. Finally, Perez-Garcia avers that he requested counsel during an interrogation by Officer Derryck Thomas. Id. Despite these requests, Perez-Garcia signed a waiver consistent with Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and dictated a lengthy, highly-detailed murder confession. Id.[1] At trial, Perez-Garcia repudiated his confession; he claimed that Thomas forced him to sign the confession and that the crimes were committed by a different person. Id.

         The Michigan Court of Appeals denied Perez-Garcia's delayed application for leave to appeal.[2] People v. Perez-Garcia, No. 275747 (Mich. Ct. App. May 22, 2007); lv. den. 480 Mich. 964 (2007).

         Perez-Garcia subsequently filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the federal court. Petitioner's sole claim for relief was that his confession to the police should have been suppressed because the interrogating officer denied his request for counsel. The court denied his petition on the merits. Perez-Garcia v. Berghuis, No. 09-10839, 2010 WL 3905118 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 30, 2010); appeal dism. No. 10-2444 (6th Cir. Apr. 26, 2011).

         In 2011, a state trial court judge granted Perez-Garcia's motion to reissue his judgment of sentence pursuant to Mich. Ct. R. 6.428, on the ground that counsel's ineffectiveness prevented petitioner from filing a timely appeal of right. People v. Perez-Garcia, No. 05-004892-01-FC (Third Jud. Cir. Ct., Crim. Div., April 29, 2011).

         Perez-Garcia subsequently filed an appeal of right with the Michigan Court of Appeals. That court reaffirmed Petitioner's conviction. People v. Perez-Garcia, No. 305086, 2012 WL 5856909 (Mich. Ct. App. October 30, 2012). Petitioner did not seek leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court.

         On November 5, 2013, Perez-Garcia filed the pending application for writ of habeas corpus. On November 26, 2013, the Court held the petition for writ of habeas corpus in abeyance to permit Perez-Garcia to return to state court to exhaust additional claims that had not been previously presented. ECF 6.

         Perez-Garcia filed a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment, which was denied. People v. Perez-Garcia, No. 05-004892-01-FC (Wayne Cty. Cir. Ct., May 16, 2014); reconsideration den. No. 05-004892-01-FC (Wayne Cty. Cir. Ct., June 25, 2014). The Michigan appellate courts denied petitioner leave to appeal. People v. Perez-Garcia, No. 324619 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 12, 2015); lv. den. 499 Mich. 855 (2016).

         Following the exhaustion of his state post-conviction motion in the state courts, Perez-Garcia filed a motion to lift the stay and a motion to amend the petition, ECF 10 and 12, which the Court granted on April 19, 2016, ECF 14. Respondent filed a motion to transfer the petition to the Sixth Circuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A), on the ground that Perez-Garcia's petition was an unauthorized second or successive habeas challenge his conviction. ECF 16. On October 28, 2016, the Court granted Respondent's motion to transfer the petition to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. ECF 19. The Sixth Circuit ruled that it was unnecessary for Petitioner to obtain authorization to file a successive petition with respect to his new claims, and remanded the matter to the Court for consideration. In re Perez-Garcia, No. 16-2526 (6th Cir. Apr. 20, 2017). The Sixth Circuit ruled that petitioner could not raise his confession claim again because he had previously been denied habeas relief on the claim. Id.

         On August 7, 2017, the Court ordered respondent to file an answer to the petition within ninety days. ECF 22. Respondent filed an answer on October 30, 2017. Petitioner filed a reply to the answer as well as motions for the transcript and for summary judgment, ECF 25 and 26. Petitioner seeks habeas relief on the following grounds: (1) the state trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over petitioner's case because (a) the Wayne County Prosecutor failed to endorse or personally sign the arrest warrant, and (b) the criminal complaint and the information were defective; (2) the trial judge failed to instruct the jurors on the elements of the crimes charged at the beginning of trial; (3) police and prosecutorial misconduct; and (4) petitioner was denied a fair trial because (a) the judge failed to appoint a Spanish-speaking interpreter, and (b) counsel was ineffective for failing to request an interpreter.


         The Court may grant Perez-Garcia's petition only if the state court's rejection of his claims "was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, " or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

         A state court decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law if it reaches a conclusion opposite to a Supreme Court decision on a question of law or if it decides case differently from the Supreme Court on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). An "unreasonable application" occurs when "a state court decision unreasonably applies the law of [the Supreme Court] to the facts of a prisoner's case." Id. at 409. A federal habeas court may not "issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly." Id. at 411. "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)). In order to obtain habeas relief in federal court, therefore, a state prisoner must show that the state court's rejection of his claim "was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement." Id. at 103. A court should deny a habeas petitioner relief so long as it is within the "realm of possibility" that fairminded jurists could find the state court decision to be reasonable. See Woods v. Etherton, 136 S.Ct. 1149, 1152 (2016).


         I. Motion for Transcripts

         Perez-Garcia filed a motion for transcripts and other documents pertaining to the arrest and search warrants in his case. ECF 25.

         Habeas petitioners have no right to automatic discovery. Stanford v. Parker,266 F.3d 442, 460 (6th Cir. 2001). A district court has discretion to grant discovery to a petitioner in a habeas case upon a fact-specific showing of good cause. Id. A federal district court may permit discovery if the specific allegations-if fully developed-could give the district court reason to consider granting federal habeas relief. See Johnson v. Mitchell,585 F.3d 923, 934 (6th Cir. 2009); see also Lott v. Coyle,261 F.3d 594, 602 ...

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