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Roberson v. Jackson

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

March 26, 2018

SHANE JACKSON, Respondent.



         Petitioner Dwight Roberson, presently confined at the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his pro se application, Petitioner challenges his conviction for first-degree home invasion, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a(2), second-degree home invasion, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a(3), receiving or concealing stolen property valued between $200 and $1, 000, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.535(4)(a), malicious destruction of a house, causing damages between $1, 000 and $20, 000, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.380(3)(a), and participating in a criminal enterprise, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.159i. The trial court sentenced Petitioner, as a second-habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.10, to concurrent terms of 20 to 30 years in prison for the first-degree home invasion and criminal enterprise convictions, 10 to 15 years for the second-degree home invasion conviction, 2 to 5 years for the malicious destruction conviction, and time served for the receiving or concealing conviction. For the reasons stated below, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was convicted of the above charges following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court. This Court recites verbatim the relevant facts relied upon by the Michigan Court of Appeals, 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):

The prosecutor charged defendant and four codefendants with participating in four Detroit robberies: breaking and entering Your Place Lounge located at 17326 East Warren early on August 31, 2008, invading a residence on Woodhall Street on September 27, 2008, and robbing two other Woodhall Street residences on September 29, 2008. The robbery targets all were located within three blocks of one another.
Defendant undisputedly occupied a residence located at 4889 Woodhall Street, in the midst of the robbery targets. Detroit police officers testified that they first investigated a potential connection between 4889 Woodhall Street and the robberies immediately after the August 31, 2008 breaking and entering of the lounge, to which 4889 Woodhall was the closest residence, immediately adjacent to the lounge across an alley. Officers observed suspect movement inside 4889 Woodhall, entered the house, found liquor, pieces of a cash register, and other items taken from the lounge, and arrested defendant and his four charged codefendants, who were released days later.
Several Woodhall Street residents testified about the robberies of their houses, and two residents recalled seeing four to six African-American males engaged in suspicious behavior on Woodhall Street in the early morning hours of September 29, 2008. The suspicious behavior included pushing a trash receptacle full of pipes down the sidewalk and carrying a large duffel bag, which items the group transported to 4889 Woodhall. The trash receptacle bore the address of one of the broken and entered homes. None of the Woodhall Street residents could identify defendant as one of the Woodhall home invaders. However, later on September 29, 2008, the police descended on 4889 Woodhall and arrested defendant and a codefendant as they tried to flee from the house; police arrested another codefendant inside the house. At the time of the arrests, the police found the trash receptacle containing copper piping stolen from one of the Woodhall Street houses, a Wii game system stolen from another Woodhall residence, and several other items of stolen property from the three invaded Woodhall homes.

People v. Roberson, No. 291436, 2010 WL 2292011, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. June 8, 2010).

         Following his sentencing, Petitioner filed a claim of appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals, raising the same claims raised in his initial habeas petition. The Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions and sentences. Id. at *8. Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claims. On December 20, 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court denied the application. People v. Roberson, 791 N.W.2d 443 (Mich. 2010). On April 14, 2011, Petitioner filed his habeas petition. (Dkt. 1). The proof of service was signed and dated April 6, 2011. On August 29, 2012, Petitioner filed a motion to stay proceedings and hold his habeas petition in abeyance. On October 1, 2012, the Court entered an order holding Petitioner's petition in abeyance. 10/1/2012 Op. & Order (Dkt. 10). The Court also administratively closed the case.

         Petitioner returned to the trial court and filed a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Mich. Ct. R. 6.500, et. seq., with the Wayne County Circuit Court, which was denied. People v. Roberson, No. 08-14259-01 (Wayne County Circuit Court, December 11, 2012). The Michigan appellate courts denied Petitioner leave to appeal. People v. Roberson, No. 315525 (Mich. Ct. App. October 8, 2013); lv. den. 791 N.W.2d 443 (Mich. 2014). Petitioner then filed an amended habeas petition on December 24, 2014. (Dkt. 11).

         On November 2, 2016, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen his petition for a writ of habeas corpus (Dkt. 17) and on November 4, 2016, he filed a motion to amend his petition (Dkt. 18). On December 12, 2016, the case was reopened and placed on the court's active docket. (Dkt. 19). Respondent filed a supplemental answer on January 31, 2017. (Dkt. 20). Petitioner filed a reply on March 13, 2017, (Dkt. 22) and the brief in support of his reply to respondent's supplemental answer on April 3, 2017. (Dkt. 23).

         Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds:

I. Mr Roberson was denied his state and federal right to a fair trial when the judge instructed the jury on the theory of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise under which he had not been charged. Furthermore, defense trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective in assenting to the incorrect charge[.]
II. Mr Roberson was denied his state and federal due process rights to notice of the charges against him when the trial judge instructed the jury on the theory of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise under which he had not been charged.
III. Mr Roberson was denied his state and federal rights to due process of law and a fair trial through the prosecutor's misconduct in shifting the burden of proof to him, questioning him about privileged communication with trial counsel, questioning him about whether he would present a witnesses who had their own rights against self-incrimination, and commenting on Mr Roberson's privileged communications during closing argument.
IV. Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to investigate and call alibi witnesses.
V. Trial and appellate counsel were ineffective by failing to raise scoring issues.


         28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), imposes the following standard of review for habeas cases:

An 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 Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

         A decision of a state court is “contrary to” clearly established federal law if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law, or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has 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 410-11.

         The Supreme Court has explained that “a federal court's collateral review of a state-court decision must be consistent with the respect due state courts in our federal system.” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003). The “AEDPA thus imposes a ‘highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, ' and ‘demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.'” Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010), quoting Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333, n. 7 (1997); Woodford v. Viscotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (per curiam). “[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), The Supreme Court has emphasized “that even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable.” Id., citing Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003). Furthermore, pursuant to § 2254(d), “a habeas court must determine what arguments or theories supported or...could have supported, the state court's decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior decision” of the Supreme Court. Id. A habeas petitioner should be denied relief as 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).

         III. ...

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