United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Roland H. Stevens, Petitioner,
Sherman Campbell, Respondent.
Patricia T. Morris Mag. Judge
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS , DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND
DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL
E. LEVY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Roland H. Stevens, a Michigan prisoner, filed a pro se
petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254. He challenges his state conviction and sentence of
seven to twenty years for assault with intent to do great
bodily harm less than murder (“AWIGBH”). He
alleges as grounds for relief that (1) there was insufficient
evidence to support his conviction for AWIGBH, (2) the
prosecutor committed misconduct by bringing multiple charges
against him for one criminal transaction, (3) the jury
instruction on assault with intent to do great bodily harm
less than murder was improper, and (4) trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to request a jury instruction on
was charged with four counts: assault with intent to commit
murder, AWIGBH, assault with a dangerous weapon (felonious
assault), and first-degree home invasion. See People v.
Stevens, 306 Mich.App. 620, 623 n.1 (2014). The Michigan
Court of Appeals summarized the evidence at Stevens' jury
Defendant's conviction arises from a stabbing that
occurred on March 7, 2012. At the time of the stabbing, the
victim, Luther Allbright, lived with two women, Maria
Castillo and Sandra Williams. The evening before the
stabbing, defendant and Williams went to defendant's
apartment, approximately two blocks from Allbright's
house. When Williams did not return to Allbright's house,
Castillo became concerned, and she and Allbright went to
defendant's apartment. After Castillo aggressively
knocked on the apartment door, defendant opened the door and
punched Castillo, at which time Allbright departed from the
building without entering defendant's apartment. Sometime
later, Castillo and Williams also departed; but defendant ran
after the women and stopped them. Defendant frisked Williams,
supposedly looking for possessions he claimed were missing
from his apartment.
The following afternoon, defendant went to Allbright's
home and a fight ensued. In particular, according to
Allbright, defendant entered his home uninvited and asked,
“Why did you bring all that drama to my house?”
Defendant then punched Allbright in the face, after which
defendant wrestled him to the ground. While the two rolled on
the ground, defendant stabbed Allbright twice in the left
side of his back, once in the right side of his back
(puncturing Allbright's lung), and once in his left arm.
He then pinned Allbright to the ground and told him,
“I'm King Tut, bitch.” Afterward, defendant
left Allbright's house, purchased beer at a party store,
and returned to his apartment.
At trial, defendant conceded that he brought a knife to
Allbright's home and that he stabbed Allbright, but he
claimed that he acted in self-defense. According to
defendant's version of events, he suffers from several
medical conditions, including congestive heart failure.
Defendant maintained that, during the fight, Allbright ended
up on top of defendant while they were wrestling on the
ground and, because of his medical conditions, defendant
could not breathe, which prompted him to pull a knife and
stab Allbright several times.
The trial court instructed the jury on the theory of
self-defense; however, the jury convicted defendant of AWIGBH
[Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.84]. The trial court sentenced
defendant, as a fourth-offense habitual offender, MCL 769.12,
to 7 to 20 years' imprisonment.
Id. at 622-23 (footnote omitted).
direct appeal, Stevens' appointed appellate attorney
argued that the trial court erroneously scored twenty points
for prior record variable five and that trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to object to the score. (Dkt. 10-17
at 16.) Substitute appellate counsel filed a supplemental
brief in which he argued that the guilty verdict for AWIGBH
was based on insufficient evidence because the evidence did
not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stevens did not act
in self-defense. (Id. at 82.) The Michigan Court of
Appeals addressed all three arguments and affirmed
Stevens' conviction. Stevens, 306 Mich.App. at
627 n.5 (ineffective assistance of trial counsel), 627-28
(scoring), 628-31 (sufficiency of the evidence).
raised the same three issues in his application for leave to
appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. (Dkt. 10-18 at 3-5,
14.) He also challenged his status as a fourth habitual
offender (id. at 6), claimed that he “perjured
himself constantly while testifying at trial, ” but
neither the trial attorney, judge, or prosecutor stopped him
(id. at 15), and raised several new issues
concerning his trial attorney, including his failure to
object to the jury instruction on aggravated assault.
(Id. at 7-15.) On May 28, 2015, the Michigan Supreme
Court summarily denied leave to appeal. People v.
Stevens, 497 Mich. 1027 (2015).
subsequently filed a motion for relief from judgment with the
state trial court, arguing that the evidence at trial was
insufficient and against the great weight of the evidence to
support his AWIGBH conviction and that the prosecutor
committed misconduct by bringing multiple charges against
him. (Dkt. 10-15 at 2, 4-9.) He asserted a variety of
ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims, including the
failure to request a jury instruction on the lesser-offense
of aggravated assault. (Id. at 2, 10-12.) Finally,
he argued that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing
to raise these claims on direct appeal. (Id. at 11.)
trial court denied the motion, stating that it was precluded
from reviewing his challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence and most of the ineffective assistance of counsel
claims because the Court of Appeals had already ruled on
those issues. (Dkt. 10-16 at 2-3.) The trial court found that
he had not shown “good cause” or “actual
prejudice” under Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D)(3) for
not raising his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim
on his direct appeal, but it still addressed some of the
merits of the ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
(Id. at 3. (finding that trial counsel was not
ineffective for failing to request the lesser-offense jury
instruction because it would have been futile because Stevens
was not entitled to such an instruction).) It rejected his
ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claims under
similar reasoning. (Id. at 3-4.) Stevens did not
appeal the denial.
8, 2016, Stevens filed this habeas corpus petition. (Dkt. 1.)
The Court understands his claims to be: (1) the jury's
verdict for AWIGBH was against the weight of the evidence and
the evidence was insufficient, (2) the prosecutor committed
misconduct by bringing multiple charges stemming from one
criminal transaction, (3) the jury instruction on AWIGBH was
improper, and (4) trial counsel was ...