United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
M. LAWSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Charles Ingram was convicted by a jury in the Saginaw County,
Michigan circuit court of various counts of criminal sexual
conduct for sexually assaulting the daughter of a coworker.
He filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 challenging the sufficiency of the
evidence, the fairness of his trial, the propriety of
convicting him of multiple counts in light of the Double
Jeopardy Clause, the scoring of the state advisory sentencing
guidelines, and the performance of his attorney. The warden
responded, arguing that some of the claims are barred by
procedural defenses and the rest lack merit. Because the
state courts adjudicated Ingram's claims consistent with
controlling federal law, and none of them support issuance of
the writ, the Court will deny the petition.
Michigan Court of Appeals succinctly summarized the facts of
the case in its opinion on direct appeal as follows:
Defendant's convictions stem from the sexual assault of
“BJ” in the basement of a home that defendant was
renovating. BJ testified that her father worked for defendant
and that she sometimes accompanied her father and was paid
for work that she performed. According to BJ, defendant
grabbed her hands and held them behind her back while he
pulled her pants down, squeezed her breasts, and vaginally
penetrated her with his penis. Defendant testified that the
sexual encounter was consensual.
People v. Ingram, No. 309035, 2013 WL 3717793, at *1
(Mich. Ct. App. July 16, 2013).
was convicted of one count of third-degree criminal sexual
conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520d(1)(b), and two
counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp.
Laws § 750.520e(1)(b). He was sentenced to concurrent
prison terms totaling seven to fifteen years. His convictions
were affirmed on appeal. Id., lv. den. 495 Mich.
915, 840 N.W.2d 336 (2013) (Table).
then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which was
held in abeyance so that he could return to the state courts
to exhaust additional claims. He filed a post-conviction
motion for relief from judgment, which was denied. People
v. Ingram, No. 08-031317-FH (Saginaw Cty. Cir. Ct. Dec.
1, 2015). The Michigan appellate courts denied leave to
appeal. People v. Ingram, No. 332098 (Mich. Ct. App.
July 25, 2016), lv. den. 500 Mich. 926, 888 N.W.2d
97 (2017) (Table).
February 14, 2017, this Court reopened the case and permitted
Ingram to file an amended habeas petition. In his original
and amended petitions, he seeks habeas relief on the
I. Petitioner claims that there was insufficient evidence to
justify a reasonable juror concluding that all elements of
the crime of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree and
fourth degree was established beyond a reasonable doubt and
all the state courts demonstrated an unreasonable application
of precedential federal law set forth in Jackson v.
II. Petitioner's verdict was against the great weight of
the evidence and the state courts demonstrated an
unreasonable determination of the facts of the case.
III. Petitioner's rights to a fair trial were infringed
upon by the improper denial of the motion in limine
relative to the introduction of evidence of the victim's
prior sexual history with third parties and in particular her
prior claims of pregnancy.
IV. Petitioner's conviction is a product of one being
incarcerated whom is actually innocent [as] the acts that
occurred petitioner holds where [sic] consensual and that
petitioner did not have the malice intent or the mens rea of
the act that he was convicted of. The prosecution failed to
establish these specific act [sic] of intent causing a
miscarriage of justice also some testimony was a product of
perjury and resulting in a Napue violation and one
was convicted by the violation and denied a fair trial.
V. Defendant's convictions should be vacated and he
should be granted a new trial because he was subjected to
double jeopardy in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the
United States Constitution, where he was subjected to
multiple prosecutions for the same offense.
VI. Defendant did not receive the effective assistance of
trial counsel when counsel failed to object when the court
gave a jury instruction that permitted the jury to find him
guilty even if they were not in unanimous agreement on each
VII. Defendant did not receive the effective assistance of
trial counsel when counsel failed to impeach complainant with
her preliminary examination testimony, when she testified at
his trial, and when counsel failed to point out the
discrepancies between complainant's preliminary
examination test[i]mony and her trial testimony, where it
came out at trial, at her closing argument.
VIII. Defendant did not receive the effective assistance of
trial counsel when counsel failed to do a proper
investigation and present facts contained in documents that
negated complainant's version of events, and therefore,
she should not have been believed.
IX. The trial court improperly scored the offense variable 13
and prior record variable 7 making the guidelines incorrect
in violation of Defendant's Sixth and Fourteenth
X. Defendant did not receive the effective assistance of
appellate counsel when counsel did not raise the issues he
now raises, on defendant's appeal of right, and thus, he
fulfills the “cause” requirement of MCR
Pet. at 7, 11, 18, 26, 42, 52, 55.
warden filed an answer to the petition raising the defenses
of procedural default and untimeliness. 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 untimeliness argument references the requirement
that a habeas petitioner must bring his claims within one
year of the date his conviction becomes final. See
28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1). In this case, although the petition was
stayed in this Court, Ingram did not file his post-conviction
motion in state court until after the one-year statute of
limitations expired. The warden reasons that those new claims
are all untimely because there was not limitations period to
toll by the time the post-conviction was filed. See
Hargrove v. Brigano, 300 F.3d 717, 718 n.1 (6th Cir.
2002) (holding that a state court post-conviction motion that
is filed after the limitations period expires cannot toll
that period because there is no period remaining to be
tolled); Searcy v. Carter, 246 F.3d 515, 519 (6th
Cir. 2001) (holding that the AEDPA's limitations period
does not begin to run anew after the completion of state
post-conviction proceedings). The Court finds it unnecessary
to address these procedural questions. They are not a
jurisdictional bar to review of the merits, Howard v.
Bouchard, 405 F.3d 459, 476 (6th Cir. 2005) (procedural
default); Smith v. State of Ohio Dept. of Rehab.,
463 F.3d 426, 429, n.2 (6th Cir. 2006) (statute of
limitations), 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)).
These procedural defenses will not affect the outcome of this
case, and it is more efficient to proceed directly to the
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). 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).
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) (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). The 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. Mere error by
the state court will not justify issuance of the writ;
rather, the state court's application of federal law
“must have been objectively unreasonable.”
Wiggins, 539 U.S. at 520-21 (quoting Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 409 (2000) (quotation marks
omitted)). The AEDPA 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). Moreover, habeas review is “limited to the
record that was before the state court.” Cullen v.
Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 180 (2011).
though the state appellate courts did not give full
consideration to some of Ingram's federal claims on
appeal, AEDPA's highly deferential standard for reviewing
a habeas petitioner's constitutional claims applies here.
The petitioner must show that “the state court decision
was ‘contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law' or
involved an ‘unreasonable determination of the
facts.'” Kelly v. Lazaroff, 846 F.3d 819,
831 (6th Cir. 2017) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)). That
standard applies “even when a state court does not
explain the reasoning behind its denial of relief.”
Carter v. Mitchell, 829 F.3d 455, 468 (6th Cir.
2016). “Under [Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S.
86 (2011)], ‘[w]hen a federal claim has been presented
to a state court and the state court has denied relief, it
may be presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on
its merits in the absence of any indication or state-law
procedural principles to the contrary.'” Barton
v. Warden, S. Ohio Corr. Facility, 786 F.3d 450, 460
(6th Cir. 2015) (quoting Harrington, 562 U.S. at
99). There is nothing in this record that suggests a basis
for rebutting that presumption. See Johnson v.
Williams, 568 U.S. 289, 303 (2013).
first contends that the evidence was not sufficient at trial
to prove that the sexual encounter was accomplished with
force or coercion, which is an essential element of both
third-degree and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The
Michigan Court of Appeals found sufficient ...