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Reiner v. Woods

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division

March 13, 2018

JOSEPH THOMAS REINER, Petitioner,
v.
JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.

          ORDER APPROVING AND ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          HON. ROBERT J. JONKER JUDGE

         The Court has reviewed Magistrate Judge Greeley's Report and Recommendation in this matter (ECF No. 22) and Plaintiff's Objection to it (ECF No. 23). Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, where, as here, a party has objected to portions of a Report and Recommendation, “[t]he district judge . . . has a duty to reject the magistrate judge's recommendation unless, on de novo reconsideration, he or she finds it justified.” 12 Wright, Miller & Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3070.2, at 451 (3d ed. 2014). Specifically, the Rules provide that:

The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.

Fed R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). De novo review in these circumstances requires at least a review of the evidence before the Magistrate Judge. Hill v. Duriron Co., 656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). The Court has reviewed de novo the claims and evidence presented to the Magistrate Judge; the Report and Recommendation itself; and Petitioner's Objections. After its review, the Court finds that Magistrate Judge Greeley's Report and Recommendation is factually sound and legally correct and accordingly adopts its conclusion that Petitioner is not entitled to habeas corpus relief. The Court will, however, grant Petitioner a certificate of appealability with respect to Ground III of the petition.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Michigan Court of Appeals summarized the facts underlying Petitioner's convictions in this case as follows:

Defendant's convictions arise from the February 23, 2011, home invasion of 49199 Fairchild Road in Macomb County, where 69-year-old Joanne Eisenhardt lived. A man, who was later identified as [Petitioner], stabbed Eisenhardt in the neck with two knives. The knives were still in Eisenhardt's neck when police and emergency medical services arrived at the house. The surgeon who operated on Eisenhardt to remove the knives was “flabbergasted” that no major organs were injured. However, Eisenhardt suffered declining health after the incident and died seven months later.

(4/17/14 Mich. Ct. App. Opinion (MCOA Op.), ECF No. 8-17, PageID.1838). On September 14, 2012, a Macomb County Circuit Court jury, after a six day trial, convicted Petitioner of assault with intent to commit murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.83; first-degree home invasion, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.11a(2); and felony murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316(1)(b). Petitioner was sentenced by the trial court on November 14, 2012 to life without parole for the murder conviction, 37 years and 6 months to 60 years for the assault conviction, and 12 years and 6 months to 20 years for the home invasion conviction.

         Petitioner unsuccessfully appealed his convictions through the state courts. On September 11, 2015, Petitioner filed his habeas petition which raised four grounds for relief, as follows:

I. Petitioner is entitled to a new trial because he was deprived the effective assistance of counsel where counsel did not consult with or call an expert witness to dispute the conclusion that the death was homicide.
II. Petitioner was denied a fair trial by the erroneous admission of tainted identifications by Allen Pauli and Thomas Kosciolek after each was shown a single photograph image of Petitioner.
III. The Court denied Petitioner his 6th Amendment right of confrontation and his right to due process by erroneously allowing into evidence hearsay statements by pawn broker Hadrian Lewandowski, who was deceased.
IV. Trial Court denied Petitioner due process of law by abusing its discretion by allowing into evidence testimony of another home invasion.

(Pet. 6-12, ECF No. 1, PageID.6-12). On December 13, 2017, the Magistrate Judge recommended denying all four grounds for relief. (ECF No. 22). Petitioner's Objection was filed on January 2, 2018. ...


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