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Bassett v. Warren

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

April 24, 2019

DERRICK LEE BASSETT, Petitioner,
v.
PAT WARREN, Respondent,

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

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner, Derrick Lee Bassett, presently incarcerated at the Macomb Regional Facility in New Haven, Michigan, has filed a pro se application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner was convicted by a judge in the Wayne County Circuit Court of carjacking, Mich. Comp Laws § 750.529(a), and was sentenced to nine to twenty years in prison. Petitioner contends that there was insufficient evidence to convict him and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. The respondent filed an answer to the petition, asserting that the claims lack merit. Petitioner's claims are without merit and will be denied.

         I.

         Petitioner was tried and convicted with his co-defendant, Aaron Barrett. 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 victim, Kevin Carter, was acquainted with defendants, who are cousins, through his friendship with their uncles. According to Carter, he met up with defendants to give them a ride at their request. When he arrived, he saw that Barrett had an AK-47 assault rifle inside one leg of his pants. When Carter refused to let Barrett bring the weapon into the car, Barrett pulled it out, pointed it at Carter, and removed the car keys from the ignition. During the incident, Bassett urged Barrett to “Give him the K” and added, “It can go down right here.” Carter ran away, leaving his cell phone behind inside the car, and defendants took the car. Both the phone and the vehicle were later recovered.
Contrary to Carter's testimony, Bassett testified that Carter loaned him the car for three hours in exchange for cocaine. Bassett explained that when he took the car, he found Carter's phone inside. Bassett used the car and then abandoned it after learning that it had been reported as stolen. Barrett did not testify at trial.
The trial court found defendants guilty of the offenses previously noted. Although the trial court found that Carter knew defendants “better than he let on, ” it also concluded that defendants robbed Carter at gunpoint and, even though they did not intend to permanently deprive Carter of the car, they intended to take it for as long as they needed it.

People v. Barrett, No. 328775, 2017 WL 188030, at * 1 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 17, 2017).

         Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. Id., lv. den. sub nom. People v. Bassett, 500 Mich. 1060, 898 N.W.2d 219 (2017).

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

I. The evidence presented against Defendant was insufficient to establish all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
II. Defense counsel was ineffective by failing to notify defendant's witnesses of the trial and failing to obtain cellphone records and present them to the court.
III. Defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to impeach the complaining witness at trial with a statement given to police.

         II.

         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 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.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 411 (2000). To obtain habeas relief in federal court, a state prisoner is required to show that the state court's rejection of his claim “was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011).

         III.

         A.

         Petitioner contends that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of carjacking because the prosecutor failed to present evidence that Petitioner and his co-defendant ...


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