United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY OR LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge.
William Bowman, (“petitioner”), confined at the
Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland, Michigan, filed a
pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in which he challenges his
conviction for second-degree murder, MCL 750.317, and
possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony
(felony-firearm), MCL 750.227b. For the reasons that follow,
the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.
was convicted following a jury trial in the St. Clair County
Circuit Court. This Court recites verbatim the relevant facts
regarding petitioner's conviction from the Michigan Court
of Appeals' opinion, which are presumed correct on habeas
review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). See,
e.g., Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th
This case arises out of the murder of Timothy Belisle in
front of defendant's mobile home. The dispute arose over
glass that broke on the road in front of defendant's
mobile home when Belisle was moving an old refrigerator.
Defendant's girlfriend, Sarah Gelushia, and Belisle's
girlfriend, Jessica Thomas, were also present during the
homicide. Defendant's defense at trial was that he shot
Belisle in self-defense or in defense of Gelushia.
People v. Bowman, No. 327596, 2016 WL 6127703, at *1
(Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 18, 2016).
conviction was affirmed on appeal. Id., lv. den. 500
Mich. 983, 893 N.W.2d 630 (2017).
seeks habeas relief on the following grounds:
I. The trial court erred in repeatedly excluding relevant
evidence regarding Sarah Gelushia's physical condition
and her fear of injury at the hands of Tim Belisle and in
doing so violated defendant's right to present a defense.
II. Mr. Bowman was denied his Sixth Amendment right to a fair
and impartial trial when the trial judge interfered with the
presentation of evidence, questioned Mr. Bowman with
hostility and incredulity, belittled defense counsel, and
displayed bias through her tone and demeanor.
Standard of Review
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;
(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.
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 411. “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)). Therefore, 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.” Id. at 103. 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).
Michigan Court of Appeals reviewed and rejected a portion of
petitioner's judicial bias claim under a plain error
standard because petitioner failed to preserve a portion of
his claim as a constitutional issue at the trial court level.
AEDPA deference still applies to any underlying plain-error
analysis of a procedurally defaulted claim. See Stewart
v. Trierweiler, 867 F.3d 633, 638 (6th Cir. 2017);
cert. den. 138 S.Ct. 1998 (2018).