United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
M. LAWSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jonathon Lee Martin carjacked a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix from
a mother and her four-year-old son in Detroit on April 10,
2013. He was apprehended that same day and ultimately brought
to trial, where a jury convicted him of the offenses. He
challenges those convictions in a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging a
variety of grounds relating to the identification evidence,
an alibi witness, and his lawyer's performance. Finding
no merit to his claims, the Court will deny the petition.
facts were summarized by the Michigan Court of Appeals in its
opinion on direct appeal as follows:
Defendant carjacked a mother and her four-year-old son in the
middle of the afternoon outside a dollar store in Detroit. As
she returned to her car, which was parked on a side street,
the victim saw defendant, who was wearing a black hooded
sweatshirt, emerge from a nearby vacant building. Defendant
then approached defendant (sic), told her “B, you know
what it is, ” entered her car, and sat in the
driver's seat. The victim handed her money to defendant
through the passenger side window, and he ordered her to give
him her car keys, which she did. In the process of so doing,
the victim was face-to-face with defendant, and saw that he
had a black handgun in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt.
Soon after he committed the carjacking, the police saw
defendant - still wearing a black hooded sweatshirt - driving
the victim's stolen car, with two passengers. After
police attempted to stop the vehicle, defendant and the
passengers fled on foot. The police apprehended defendant 10
minutes later, and found a black handgun near the garage
where defendant was hiding.
People v. Martin, No. 320937, 2015 WL 4465190, at *1
(Mich. Ct. App. July 21, 2015).
witnesses testified at Martin's trial: the victim and the
petitioner himself. The victim identified Martin at a
pretrial lineup and in the courtroom. Many facts were
furnished by stipulation.
Wayne County, Michigan circuit court sitting without a jury
found Martin guilty of carjacking, unlawful driving away an
automobile, and possession of a firearm during the commission
of a felony, and he was sentenced to prison, where he
Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the petitioner's
convictions, ibid., and the Michigan Supreme Court
denied leave to appeal, People v. Martin, 499 Mich.
857, 873 N.W.2d 584 (2016). The court of appeals reviewed
some of Martin's claims under a plain error standard
because he failed to preserve the issues as constitutional
claims at the trial court level. AEDPA deference applies to
those claims here. See Stewart v. Trierweiler, 867
F.3d 633, 638 (6th Cir. 2017).
petitioner filed a timely petition in this Court for a writ
of habeas corpus, in which he raised the following issues:
I. Mr. Martin was denied his state and federal constitutional
right to a fair trial and impartial trial due to the inherent
fallibility of the eyewitness identification evidence
presented at his trial.
II. Mr. Martin's case was unduly prejudiced by the
prosecutor's questioning as to the absence of his alibi
III. There was insufficient evidence for the trier of fact to
conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant committed
[the] crime of car jacking, unlawful driving away of a motor
vehicle and felony-firearm due to the fact that because of a
actually erroneous stipulation by the parties that the arrest
occurred on April 11, 2013 (when in fact according to police
reports it actually occurred on April 10, 2013, the same day
as the crime) there was thus no prosecution evidence on the
record to support the prosecution's claim concerning the
factual circumstances of Mr. Martin's arrest.
IV. Defendant's pre-trial line-up was unconstitutional
where the totality of circumstances including the victim
being allowed to see the video at the scene of the crime, and
the fact that a detective called the victim and told her that
they had caught the person who robbed-carjacked her,
established that the line-up was impermissibly suggestive in
violation of defendant's due process rights.
V. Defendant was denied his state and federal constitutional
right to effective assistance of counsel under the [S]ixth
[A]mendment where (1) counsel failed to object to the
identification line-up; and (2) for counsel failing to file a
notice of alibi witness or call interview alibi witness.
Pet. at 8, 10, 12, 14, 20, ECF No. 1, PageID.8, 10, 12, 14,
respondent filed an answer to the petition arguing that some
of Martin's claims are subject to the defense of
procedural default. The “procedural default”
argument is a reference to the rule that the petitioner did
not preserve properly some of his claims in state court, and
the state court's ruling on that basis is an adequate and
independent ground for the denial of relief. Coleman v.
Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991). The Court finds it
unnecessary to address this procedural question. It is not a
jurisdictional bar to review of the merits, Howard v.
Bouchard, 405 F.3d 459, 476 (6th Cir. 2005), and
“federal courts are not required to address a
procedural-default issue before deciding against the
petitioner on the merits, ” Hudson v. Jones,
351 F.3d 212, 215 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Lambrix v.
Singletary, 520 U.S. 518, 525 (1997)). The procedural
defense will not affect the outcome of this case, and it is
more efficient to proceed directly to the merits.
provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214
(Apr. 24, 1996), which govern this case,
“circumscribe[d]” the standard of review federal
courts must apply when considering an application for a writ
of habeas corpus raising constitutional claims, including
claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. See Wiggins
v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003). Because Martin filed
his petition after the AEDPA's effective date, its
standard of review applies. Under that statute, if a claim
was adjudicated on the merits in state court, a federal court
may grant relief only if the state court's adjudication
“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 if the adjudication “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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2).
“Clearly established Federal law for purposes of §
2254(d)(1) includes only the holdings, as opposed to the
dicta, of [the Supreme] Court's
decisions.” White v. Woodall, 572 U.S. 415,
419 (2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
“As a condition for obtaining habeas corpus from a
federal court, a state prisoner must show that the state
court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal
court 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).
distinction between mere error and an objectively
unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent creates a
substantially higher threshold for obtaining relief than
de novo review. The AEDPA thus imposes a highly
deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, and
demands that state-court decisions be “given the
benefit of the doubt.” Renico v. Lett, 559
U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (finding that the state court's
rapid declaration of a mistrial on grounds of jury deadlock
was not unreasonable even where “the jury only
deliberated for four hours, its notes were arguably
ambiguous, the trial judge's initial question to the
foreperson was imprecise, and the judge neither asked for
elaboration of the foreperson's answers nor took any
other measures to confirm the foreperson's prediction
that a unanimous verdict would not be reached”)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted); see
also Leonard v. Warden Ohio State Penitentiary, 846 F.3d
832, 841 (6th Cir. 2017); Dewald v. Wriggelsworth,
748 F.3d 295, 298-99 (6th Cir. 2014); Bray v.
Andrews, 640 F.3d 731, 737-39 (6th Cir. 2011);
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