United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE HABEAS
CORPUS PETITION, DECLINING TO ISSUE A
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND GRANTING
LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge
matter has come before the Court on petitioner Paul
Hogan's pro se Habeas Corpus Petition under 28
U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges his Wayne County
conviction for carjacking, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529a,
on the basis that there was insufficient evidence at his
trial to sustain the conviction. The warden urges the Court
to deny the petition because the state appellate court's
adjudication of Petitioner's claim was not an
unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court
law. The Court agrees. Accordingly, the Petition will be
was charged with carjacking, armed robbery, and possession of
a firearm during the commission of a felony. He waived his
right to a jury trial and was tried before a judge in Wayne
County Circuit Court where the trial testimony established
[o]n October 20, 2013, Jinni Terry arrived at a gas station
in Detroit, Michigan. As soon as she exited her car,
defendant and Steven Heard approached her and asked if they
could pump her gas. Terry informed the men that she was not
getting gas, and proceeded to enter the gas station to make a
purchase. As Terry exited and walked away from the gas
station, she saw defendant standing by the gas station door,
and saw Heard standing near her car by the gas pump. Terry
testified that as she approached her car, she stopped walking
because she was afraid. Heard then pulled out a gun, stated,
“Don't run, don't move, don't scream,
” and demanded Terry's keys. Terry refused and
began running toward the gas station with Heard in pursuit.
Terry testified that as she opened the gas station door, she
felt defendant grab her arm, but she was able to break free
and enter the building. Once inside the gas station, Terry
saw defendant and Heard running together from the scene.
People v. Heard, No. 321214, 2015 WL 1214502, at *1
(Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 17, 2015), (unpublished).
and one of the officers involved in arresting Petitioner and
Heard shortly after the crime were the only prosecution
witnesses. Petitioner did not testify or present any
witnesses. His defense was that he was merely present during
the incident at the gas station and that he lent no
assistance to Heard.
conclusion of the bench trial, the trial court acquitted
Petitioner of the robbery and firearm charges and found him
guilty of carjacking. On March 26, 2014, the trial court
sentenced Petitioner to prison for ten to twenty-five years
with 157 days of credit for time served.
challenged his conviction in an appeal of right, but the
Michigan Court of Appeals rejected his arguments and affirmed
his conviction. See id. On October 28, 2015, the
Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal because it was
not persuaded to review the issue. See People v.
Hogan, 498 Mich. 906; 870 N.W.2d 905 (2015). On
September 13, 2016, Petitioner filed his habeas corpus
Standard of Review
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”) requires habeas petitioners who
challenge “a matter ‘adjudicated on the merits in
State court' to show that the relevant state court
‘decision' (1) ‘was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law,' or (2) ‘was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceedings.'” Wilson v.
Sellers, 138 S.Ct. 1188, 1192 (2018) (quoting 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d)). “[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. Rather, that application must also be
unreasonable.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S.
362, 411 (2000). “AEDPA thus imposes a ‘highly
deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings,'
Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333, n. 7 (1997), and
‘demands that state-court decisions be given the
benefit of the doubt,' Woodford v. Visciotti,
537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (per curiam).”
Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010).
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) (quoting Yarborough v.
Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). To obtain a writ of
habeas corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must
show that the state court's ruling on his or her claim
“was so lacking in justification that there was an
error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond
any possibility for fairminded disagreement.”
Id. at 103.
sole ground for relief is that there was insufficient
evidence at trial to support his carjacking conviction.
Petitioner contends that he did not know Heard had a gun and
planned to commit a robbery or carjacking. Petitioner also
contends that, according to Terry, he never asked her for
anything, and he never chased her, blocked her path, or tried
to grab her. He asserts that he ran from the scene for fear
of being blamed for the crime due to his association with
Heard. The Michigan Court of Appeals adjudicated