United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABLITY
A. GOLDSMITH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sean Daniels, currently in the custody of the Michigan
Department of Corrections, filed a pro se petition
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254. He challenges his convictions for first-degree
premeditated murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316(1)(a),
assault with intent to commit murder, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.83, and possession of a firearm during the commission of
a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b.
petition raises ten claims. For the reasons explained below,
the Court denies the petition. The Court denies a certificate
of appealability and grants Petitioner leave to proceed on
appeal in forma pauperis.
Michigan Court of Appeals provided this overview of the
circumstances leading to Petitioner's convictions:
Defendant's convictions arise from the November 4, 2007,
shooting death of Deshaun Williams and the nonfatal shooting
of Jeanell Land, who was shot in the legs. Land, who had
known defendant for approximately three months before the
shooting, testified that defendant and Williams were involved
in an argument after defendant discovered that his van was
missing. During the argument, defendant told Williams,
“If you got my van, motherf -----, I'ma shoot you
in your face.” Defendant then walked away and started
frisking people who were outside to find a gun, and asked if
they had a gun. Defendant said he was going to “shoot
this motherf ----- in the face. I'ma kill this motherf
----- . He got my van.” Defendant then called someone
and asked for a gun. Williams and Land left the house in
Land's car, but returned between 15 and 30 minutes later.
Land heard defendant walk up to their car and ask, “You
got my van, motherf ----- ?” Defendant then shot
Williams and Land. Williams was shot three times, including
once in the middle of the forehead, and Land was shot twice
in the legs.
People v. Daniels, No. 287769, 2010 WL 571841, *1
(Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 18, 2010).
was tried by a jury in Wayne County Circuit Court. He was
convicted of first-degree premeditated murder, assault with
intent to commit murder, and possession of a firearm during
the commission of a felony, and, on July 29, 2008, sentenced
to life imprisonment for the murder conviction, twenty to
forty years for the assault conviction, and two years'
imprisonment for the felony-firearm conviction.
filed an appeal of right in the Michigan Court of Appeals. He
claimed that he received ineffective assistance of counsel
and that insufficient evidence established his identity as
the shooter. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed
Petitioner's conviction. Id.
filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan
Supreme Court. He raised the claims raised in the Michigan
Court of Appeals and an additional claim regarding jury
instructions. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to
appeal. People v. Daniels, 783 N.W.2d 376 (Mich.
then filed a habeas corpus petition. He later moved for a
stay to allow him to exhaust additional claims in state court
(Dkt. 16), which the Court granted (Dkt. 17).
filed a motion for relief from judgment in the trial court.
He raised six claims for relief: (i) prosecutor's office
and police department withheld exculpatory evidence,
presented false testimony, and manufactured evidence; (ii)
judicial misconduct; (iii) improper jury instructions; (iv)
ineffective assistance of appellate counsel; (v) cumulative
error denied Petitioner right to a fair trial; and (vi) good
cause and prejudice excuse any default. The trial court
denied the motion. See 1/23/2013 Opinion (Dkt.
filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan
Court of Appeals. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave
to appeal. People v. Daniels, No. 316725 (Mich. Ct.
App. Oct. 29, 2013). Petitioner filed an application for
leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, which was also
denied. People v. Daniels, 846 N.W.2d 548 (Mich.
moved to reopen this proceeding and to amend his petition.
The Court granted the motion and allowed amendment of the
habeas corpus petition. See 10/31/14 Opinion and
Order (Dkt. 27). The habeas corpus petition raises these
I. Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel
at trial where counsel objected to the admission of autopsy
photographs after the medical examiner's testimony and in
front of the jury rather than in a motion in limine prior to
II. Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel
at trial where counsel had to be repeatedly reprimanded by
the trial court for failing to examine witnesses properly and
for arguing with the court.
III. Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of
counsel at trial where counsel failed to present an opening
statement, then refused to continue and complete his closing
statement. When he was advised of a time limit, counsel ended
his closing without informing the jury of Petitioner's
theory of the case.
IV. There was insufficient evidence that Petitioner was the
V. Daniels was denied his Fifth Amendment rights by the Wayne
County Prosecutor's office and Detroit Police Department
withholding exculpatory evidence, use of false testimony and
manufactured evidence by the prosecutor and medical examiner,
Detroit Police, and complaining witness. Daniels is actually
and legally innocent.
VI. The trial judge demonstrated judicial misconduct when he
openly argued with defense counsel, imposed an exact time
limit on defense counsel's closing argument, walking off
the bench during defense counsel's closing arguments, and
failed to recommend defense counsel continue representing
Daniels during closing arguments, denying him a fair trial
and his right to counsel.
VII. The trial court abused its discretion in managing the
trial, depriving Daniels a fair trial and due process of law
by giving improper and erroneous jury instructions as a
VIII. Daniels was denied his right to effective assistance of
appellate counsel by his appellate counsel's failure to
raise trial counsel issues of error and issues pertaining to
the trial judge's abuse of discretion.
IX. Daniels was denied a fair trial by cumulative error.
X. Daniels's conviction must be reversed where the state
courts violated his right to equal protection where he
demonstrated both good cause and prejudice under Michigan
Court Rules and Statutes.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”),
Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, imposes the following
standard of review for habeas cases:
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 proceedings unless the
adjudication of the claim -
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the ...