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Hall v. Mackie

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

May 8, 2019

DEMONE DOMINIQUE HALL, Petitioner,
v.
THOMAS MACKIE, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (DKT. 1), DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          MARK A. GOLDSMITH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Demone Dominique Hall, (“Petitioner”), confined at the Carson City Correctional Facility in Carson City, Michigan, seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his pro se application, Petitioner challenges his conviction for armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, for which he was sentenced to serve 15 to 30 years’ imprisonment. For the reasons stated below, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was convicted following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court. 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):

Earlier that day, the victim was on a service call for cable installation. His manager was parked next to him, waiting for him to complete his work, when a man approached her vehicle from behind. She found it abnormal that the man was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants, despite the fact that it was approximately 85 degrees outside. Finding the man suspicious, the manager drove her truck down the street, and then returned to park “nose to nose” with the victim’s truck. The man, however, approached her again, this time sticking his head and hands through her open driver-side window, scanned her vehicle, and then asked for a lighter to light his cigarette. The manager gave the man a lighter, and as he walked away, she used her cell phone to take pictures of him. After the victim completed his work, his manager and he parted ways, and he went to a restaurant for lunch, where the robbery occurred. Although the victim was unable to remember defendant’s facial features and characteristics, he did identify that defendant was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, gray sweatpants, and that he was approximately six feet tall, with medium to light skin complexion. The manager identified that same man who approached her earlier from security camera footage taken outside the restaurant where the robbery occurred. Though the video is not sufficiently clear to identify facial features, the manager stated that the man in the video was wearing the same clothes, had the same weight and posture, and the same height as the man who had approached her vehicle earlier that day. The manager identified defendant as that man from a photographic lineup.

People v. Hall, No. 315691, 2014 WL 3705087, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. July 24, 2014).

         The manager testified at trial that that she took pictures of the man who approached her truck and was sure that the man was Petitioner. She testified that she remembered that “the man had a thinner jawbone, a wider forehead, a very thin mustache, thicker eyebrows wearing the gray hoody and the gray sweats is what I recall.” She also remembered that there was a red shirt hanging out from under the gray hoodie.” 3/5/2013 Trial Tr., Att. 3 to Rule 5 Notice, at 26, 28 (Dkt. 7-3). She further testified that the pictures and her recollections were consistent with the video footage taken at the restaurant prior to the robbery, and that she was “absolutely sure” about her identification of Petitioner because she was face-to-face with the perpetrator for two minutes when he approached her truck. Id. at 29-30.

         Petitioner’s conviction was affirmed on appeal. People v. Hall, No. 315691, 2014 WL 3705087 (Mich. Ct. App. July 24, 2014), lv. den. 859 N.W.2d 517 (Mich. 2015).

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

I. There was only speculation that Defendant Hall was the same person who was depicted on the surveillance video committing the robbery. The evidence was legally insufficient to support defendant Hall’s robbery armed conviction and was against the great weight of the evidence.
II. The trial court’s jury instruction with respect to flight from the scene of the robbery was unfairly prejudicial to the defense and effectively invaded the jury’s province, denying defendant Hall his due-process rights to a fair trial.
III. The prosecutor appealed to the jury to have sympathy for the victim and asked the jurors to put themselves in the victim’s “shoes.” In making these improper appeals, the prosecutor committed misconduct which denied defendant a fair trial.
IV. The defendant-appellant was deprived of his federal and state constitutional due process rights where the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant committed armed robbery.
V. The trial court abused its discretion by erroneously scoring offense variables 9 and 10 contrary to the evidence recorded.
VI. Appellant’s constitutional rights to the effective assistance of counsel was violated.
VII. Appellant contends that the photographic lineup without counsel present violated his six amendment right to counsel and a fair trial when the lineup was conducted where he was the focus of the investigation.
VIII. Appellant’s constitutional rights to due process [were] violated where the witness identification was improperly suggestive and had no independent basis.
IX. Substantial prosecutorial misconduct deprived defendant of a fair trial where the prosecution presented altered photographs to the jury to inference a false connection to the crime. Utilizing the alterations and presenting them amounts to falsification of evidence.

         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, 405-406 (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 Supreme Court has emphasized “that even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court’s contrary conclusion was unreasonable.” Id. at 102 (citing Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003)). Furthermore, pursuant to § 2254(d), “a habeas court must determine what arguments or theories supported or . . . could have supported, the state court’s decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior decision” of the Supreme Court. Id. 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.

         III. ...


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