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Rooks v. Brewer

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

February 13, 2018

SHAWN BREWER, Respondent.



         I. Introduction

         This is a habeas case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner Roderic Martez Rooks, through counsel, challenges his conviction in Oakland County Circuit Court for delivery/manufacture of 1000 or more grams of cocaine, M.C.L. § 333.7401(2)(a)(i), delivery/manufacture of 50 to 450 grams of cocaine, M.C.L. § 333.7401(2)(a)(iii), delivery/manufacture of 5 to 45 kilograms of marijuana, M.C.L. § 333.7401(2)(d)(ii)), and three counts of felony-firearm, M.C.L. § 750.227b. Respondent, through the Attorney General's Office, filed a response, arguing that petitioner's claims are non-cognizable or without merit. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be denied.

         II. Procedural History

         Petitioner was convicted of the above offenses following a bench trial. Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. People v. Rooks, No. 307180, 2013 WL 1689277 (Mich.Ct. App. Apr. 18, 2013); lv. den., 495 Mich. 854 (2013); cert. den. sub nom. Rooks v. Michigan, 134 S.Ct. 1291 (2014).

         Petitioner then filed a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment. The trial court denied the motion. People v. Rooks, No. 11-235719-FC (Oakland Cty. Cir. Ct., Dec. 18, 2015). The Michigan appellate courts denied petitioner leave to appeal. People v. Rooks, No. 331634 (Mich. Ct. App. May 13, 2016); lv. den. 500 Mich. 933 (2017).

         Petitioner seeks habeas relief on the following grounds:

I. Petitioner was denied due process when the Michigan courts refused to allow Petitioner to conduct a Franks hearing, which precluded Petitioner due process and the opportunity to fully and fairly litigate his claims raised in his pretrial motion to suppress.
II. Petitioner was denied effective assistance of counsel by counsel's failure to fully litigate his claims raised in his pretrial motion to suppress, and when counsel failed to take available steps to ensure that his only defense witness would be called at trial, after the court had refused to grant an adjournment.
III. Petitioner was denied due process when the pretrial motion to suppress demonstrated that the averments in the affidavit for the search warrant were false and misleading, which led to constitutionally tainted evidence being used against Petitioner at trial.
IV. Petitioner was denied a fair trial when the trial court denied defense counsel's request for a short adjournment when defense witness Edward Sims, informed defense counsel that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right and not testify, due to the fact that the prosecutor was in the process of appealing the charges that were dismissed against Sims, and a decision on the prosecutor's appeal was expected within a few days.
V. Petitioner should be granted a new trial on the basis of newly available evidence, pursuant to the test announced by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v Montilla-Rivera, 115 F.3d 1060, 1066 (CA1, 1997).
VI. Petitioner was denied a fair trial because the prosecutor's actions precluded defense counsel from presenting his only defense witness at trial.

         III. Facts

         The material facts leading to petitioner's conviction are recited verbatim from the Michigan Court of Appeals' opinion affirming his conviction, which are presumed correct on habeas review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). See Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009):

Defendant's convictions arise from the discovery of cocaine, marijuana, and firearms during police searches of his house and separate apartment in Southfield. Both searches were conducted pursuant to search warrants. Before the warrants were issued, the police conducted surveillance of defendant at his apartment complex. During that surveillance, Detective Paul Kinal observed defendant engage in a hand-to-hand transaction in the parking lot. According to Kinal, defendant handed a brown paper bag to Edward Sims, who was inside a vehicle, and Sims then left in his vehicle. Kinal followed Sims's vehicle and arranged for another officer to stop the vehicle. Following the stop, a search of Sims led to the discovery of a brown paper bag inside Sims's coat pocket. The bag contained a substance that field-tested positive for cocaine. The police thereafter obtained a search warrant for defendant's apartment, where they discovered various quantities of cocaine and a firearm. The police then obtained a search warrant for defendant's house, where they discovered additional quantities of cocaine and marijuana along with additional firearms.
Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence recovered during the searches, arguing that the search warrants were invalid because they were based on false or tainted information. Defendant primarily attacked the validity of the original search warrant for the apartment, and argued that all the evidence discovered during the searches of both his apartment and his house was required to be suppressed as the fruit of the poisonous tree. Defendant argued that the search warrant for his apartment was improperly based on information supplied by an unnamed person without any basis for believing that the person was credible or that the information provided was reliable. Defendant also questioned whether the unnamed person actually existed. In addition, defendant argued that the search warrant affidavit falsely stated that, after Sims was arrested, he made statements implicating defendant in drug trafficking. According to defendant, Sims denied making any statements regarding defendant. Defendant also argued that it was improper to consider allegations relating to the search of Sims after the police stopped Sims's vehicle because, in the separate criminal case against Sims, the court determined that the search was ...

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