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Henderson v. Jackson

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

May 31, 2018

Jaquan Henderson, Petitioner,
v.
Shane Jackson, Respondent.

          OPINION

          PAUL L. MALONEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On November 5, 2015, Petitioner Jaquan Henderson filed a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 seeking relief from a state conviction. (ECF No. 1.) The State of Michigan, through Jackson, filed its response on May 17, 2016. (ECF No. 5.) The Magistrate Judge issued an R&R on December 27, 2017, recommending that the petition be denied. (ECF No. 10.) The matter is now before the Court for de novo review of Petitioner's timely objections to the R & R. (ECF No. 13.)

         Statement of Facts

         Henderson takes no issue with the facts as summarized by the magistrate judge. Since he lodges objections only to legal conclusions, the Court ADOPTS the magistrate judge's summary of the facts contained in the R & R. (ECF No. 10.)

         Legal Framework

         With respect to a dispositive motion, a magistrate judge issues a report and recommendation, rather than an . After being served with a report and recommendation (R & R) issued by a magistrate judge, a party has fourteen days to file written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). A district court judge reviews de novo the portions of the R & R to which objections have been filed. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Only those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986) (per curiam) (holding the district court need not provide de novo review where the objections are frivolous, conclusive or too general because the burden is on the parties to “pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that the district court must specifically consider”). Failure to file an objection results in a waiver of the issue and the issue cannot be appealed. United States v. Sullivan, 431 F.3d 976, 984 (6th Cir. 2005); see also Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 155 (upholding the Sixth Circuit's practice). The district court judge may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).

         Discussion

         Henderson asserted three grounds for relief in his § 2254 petition:

         I. Whether the trial court reversibly erred in failing to instruct the jury on duress, when there was evidence that [Henderson] shot his gun only in response to being threatened with a shotgun by a codefendant, and therefore violated [Henderson's] Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and to a fair trial.

         II. [Henderson's] convictions for second degree murder and assault with intent to commit murder must be vacated because there is insufficient evidence of malice and/or intent to kill to sustain the convictions beyond a reasonable doubt. U.S. Const. Am. XIV.

         III. [Henderson's] conviction for assault with intent to commit murder must be reversed due to a structural error in the jury instructions i.e. failure to instruct on one of the essential elements of the offense After thoroughly examining each issue, the magistrate judge concluded Henderson's arguments lacked merit and recommended that the Court deny his petition. (ECF No. 10.) From these three grounds, Henderson now raises seven objections. (ECF No. 13.)

         Objection 1: Jury Instructions on Duress

         The magistrate judge concluded that the trial court did not commit an error of constitutional magnitude by refusing to instruct the jury on the defense of duress. The judge reasoned that, because “States are free to define elements of, and defenses to, crimes, ” Gimotty v. Elo, 40 Fed.Appx. 29, 32 (6th Cir. 2002), the Michigan Court of Appeals' determination that the defense of duress was not available to Henderson was controlling. (See ECF No. 6-11.)

         Henderson now asserts that Michigan “has long recognized the existence of the affirmative defense of duress.” (ECF No. 13 at PageID.1559.) He cites People v. Luther, 394 Mich. 619, 622 (1975). But he does not acknowledge that duress is not a defense to homicide under Michigan law. See People v. Gimotty, 216 Mich.App. 254, 257 (1996). The Michigan Court of Appeals also concluded that duress was not applicable to a charge of Assault with Intent to Commit Murder. (See ECF No. 6-11 at PageID.1340 (“[A]pplication of a duress defense in the context of AWIM would be entirely incongruous ...


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