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Hill v. Palmer

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

March 21, 2018

BIRL LEILOKIE HILL, Petitioner,
v.
CARMEN PALMER, Respondent.

          OPINION

          JANET T. NEFF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether “it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to “screen out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court concludes that the petition must be dismissed because it fails to raise a meritorious federal claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Petitioner Birl Leilokie Hill is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Michigan Reformatory (RMI) in Ionia County, Michigan. In 2014, a Saginaw County Circuit Court jury found Petitioner guilty of a variety of offenses, including first-degree premeditated murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316, first-degree felony murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316(1)(b), carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.226, felon in possession of a firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.224f, and five related counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony-firearm), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b.

         The trial court sentenced Petitioner as a second-offense habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.10, to concurrent prison terms of life for the first-degree murder conviction, 47 months to 90 months for the carrying-of-a-dangerous-weapon conviction, and 47 months to 90 months for the felon-in-possession conviction. He also received concurrent sentences for his other convictions, which are not described because they are not relevant here. In addition, he was sentenced to five terms of 24 months for his felony-firearm convictions, to be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to the underlying felonies.

         He appealed the judgment to the Michigan Court of Appeals. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction and sentence in an opinion entered on June 16, 2016. He also appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which denied leave to appeal on November 30, 2016, because it was not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by that court.

         Petitioner timely filed his habeas corpus petition with this Court on February 28, 2018. Under Sixth Circuit precedent, the application is deemed filed when handed to prison authorities for mailing to the federal court. Cook v. Stegall, 295 F.3d 517, 521 (6th Cir. 2002). Petitioner placed his petition in the prison mailing system on February 28, 2018, on the last day of the one-year deadline in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). (Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.9.)

         The petition raises two grounds for relief, as follows:

I. PETITIONER IS ENTITLED TO A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS BECAUSE THE TESTIMONY OF TR[]OOPER NEIL SOMERS AND HIS MAPS AND DIAGRAMS WERE INADMISSIBLE UNDER MRE 702 AND THE PETITIONER AS A RESULT WAS DENIED A FAIR TRIAL.
II. PETITIONER IS ENTITLED TO A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS BECAUSE THE PETITIONER WAS DENIED A FAIR TRIAL BY ADMISSION OF EVIDENCE THAT HE HAD A GUN ON A DATE DIFFERENT THAN THE DAY OF THE HOMICIDE BECAUSE THE PROSECUTOR FAILED TO GIVE THE PETITIONER NOTICE OF AN INTENT TO INTRODUCE SIMILAR ACTS EVIDENCE.

(Pet., ECF No.1, PageID.5.) Petitioner asserts that he fully exhausted these claims by raising them on appeal.

         II. AEDPA standard

         This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA). The AEDPA “prevents federal habeas ‘retrials'” and ensures that state court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under the law. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002). An application for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person who is incarcerated pursuant to a state conviction cannot be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the adjudication: “(1) resulted in a decision that 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) resulted in a decision that was based upon an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in ...


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