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Davis v. Haas

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

May 24, 2018

MICHAEL TERREAL DAVIS, Petitioner,
v.
RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND GRANTING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY AND LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          Arthur J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge

         Michael Terreal Davis, (“petitioner”), confined at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven, Michigan, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, through his attorney Gerald E. Lorence. Petitioner challenges his conviction for second-degree murder, M.C.L.A. 750.317, two counts of unlawful imprisonment, M.C.L.A. 750.349b, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony (felony-firearm), M.C.L.A. 750.227b. For the reasons that follow, the petition for writ of habeas corpus is DENIED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. Background

         Petitioner's convictions arise out of an incident that happened in Detroit, Michigan on October 23, 2012. Angela Black and her boyfriend Deangelo Applewhite met with petitioner to have him repair something on Mr. Applewhite's car. Petitioner at some point took out a gun and stated “you know what he did” and fired a shot at the ceiling. Petitioner ordered Mr. Applewhite and Ms. Black into the trunk of a car. Mr. Applewhite opened the trunk, escaped, and began running. Petitioner's girlfriend Sabrina Wakefield was driving another car and she used it to drive into Mr. Applewhite, who rolled off of the hood and continued running. Petitioner killed Mr. Applewhite by shooting him three times as he was attempting to climb a fence. Ms. Wakefield testified against petitioner in exchange for being allowed to plead guilty to second-degree murder with a sentence agreement of 10 to 25 years.

         Petitioner was originally charged with first-degree murder, two counts of unlawful imprisonment, one count of torture, and felony-firearm. At petitioner's first trial, the jury acquitted him of first-degree murder and the torture charge, but informed the judge that they could not reach a verdict on the remaining counts, including the lesser included offense of second-degree murder on the original first-degree murder charge. Over defense counsel's objection, the judge declared a mistrial.

         Following a re-trial, petitioner was convicted of second-degree murder and the remaining charges.

         Petitioner's conviction was affirmed but the case was remanded for re-sentencing. People v. Davis, No. 325565, 2016 WL 3005610 (Mich. Ct. App. May 24, 2016), lv. den. 500 Mich. 882, 886 N.W.2d 441 (2016).[1]

Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds:
A. THE TRIAL COURT DENIED THE PETITIONER HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL BY DENIGRATING DEFENSE COUNSEL AND BY HOLDING HER IN CONTEMPT IN FRONT OF THE JURY.
B. THE PETITIONER WAS RETRIED IN VIOLATION OF HIS RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM DOUBLE JEOPARDY WHEN THE TRIAL COURT DECLARED A MISTRIAL ABSENT MANIFEST NECESSITY.

         II. Standard of Review

         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. “[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 Court notes that the Michigan Court of Appeals reviewed and rejected petitioner's first claim under a plain error standard on the ground that petitioner failed to preserve the issue as a constitutional claim at the trial court level. The AEDPA deference applies to any underlying plain-error analysis of a procedurally defaulted claim. See Stewart v. Trierweiler, 867 F.3d 633, 638 (6th Cir. 2017).[2]

         III. Discussion

         A. Claim # 1. The ...


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