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Rice v. Winn

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

May 29, 2019

THOMAS WINN, Respondent.



         Tenkamenin Rice was convicted in state court of three counts of assault with intent to murder, four counts of felonious assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He filed this case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 seeking a writ of habeas corpus. His petition raises six claims for relief.

         The Court finds that none are meritorious. So the petition will be denied.


         The Michigan Court of Appeals recited the following underlying facts:

This case arises from two separate incidents that occurred in Detroit on May 20, 2012. Defendant's convictions of felonious assault stem from allegations that he used a gun to threaten Lakeith Alexander, Darrell Webb, Shaquille Sherman, and Darius Townsend in the parking lot of J & S Party Store at about 10:30 a.m. Defendant's convictions of assault with intent to murder arise from allegations that less than 30 minutes after the altercation at the party store, he fired several rounds at Alexander, Webb, and Townsend while they were sitting in a burgundy Grand Prix parked on Grandville Street.
People v. Rice, No. 313754, 2014 WL 2880374, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. June 24, 2014).

         Following his convictions, Rice filed an appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals and raised the following claims:

I. The prosecution engaged in prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments by suggesting facts not in evidence, which violated defendant's due process rights and resulted in a miscarriage of justice.
II. Rice's Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated by trial counsel's failure to object to the prosecutorial misconduct in its closing argument.
III. The trial court abused its discretion when it ruled the prosecution exercised due diligence in its attempts to secure victim Shaquille Sherman's presence at trial and failed to give the standard missing witness instruction.
IV. The in-court identification of Rice should have been stricken because it was the product of a tainted photographic lineup.
V. Police and prosecutorial misconduct deprived Rice of a fair trial and due process of law, constituting manifest injustice.
VI. There was insufficient evidence to convict Rice.

         The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Rice's convictions. Rice, 2014 WL 2880374, at *6.

         Rice then filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claims. The Michigan Supreme Court summarily denied the application. People v. Rice, 858 N.W.2d 433 (Mich. 2015).

         Rice's habeas petition in this court also raises the same claims.


         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) (and 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in particular) “confirm[s] that state courts are the principal forum for asserting constitutional challenges to state convictions.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011); see also Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 182 (2011). Thus, if a claim was “adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings, ” this Court cannot grant habeas corpus relief on the basis of that claim “unless the adjudication of the claim . . . resulted in a decision” (1) “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) “that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). But if the state courts did not adjudicate a claim “on the merits, ” this “‘AEDPA deference' does not apply and [this Court] will review the claim de novo.” Bies v. Sheldon, 775 F.3d 386, 395 (6th Cir. 2014).

         A state-court decision is “contrary to” clearly established Supreme Court precedent if it “applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases” or if it “confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of th[e] [Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [Supreme Court] precedent.” Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)).

         “[T]he ‘unreasonable application' prong of [§ 2254(d)] permits a federal habeas court to ‘grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts' of petitioner's ...

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