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Lee v. Davids

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

August 7, 2019

CLIFTON TERRON LEE, Petitioner,
v.
JOHN DAVIDS, Respondent.

          OPINION

          Robert J. Jonker Chief United States District Judge

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether “it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to “screen out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court will dismiss the petition without prejudice for failure to exhaust available state-court remedies.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Petitioner Clifton Terron Lee is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF) in Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan. Following a jury trial in the Kent County Circuit Court, Petitioner was convicted of assault with intent to commit murder (AWIM), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.83, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony firearm), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. On September 8, 2016, the court sentenced Petitioner as a fourth-offense habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.12, to a prison term of 35 to 70 years on the AWIM conviction, to be served consecutively to a 2-year prison term on the felony-firearm conviction.

         On July 17, 2019, Petitioner filed his habeas corpus petition. Under Sixth Circuit precedent, the application is deemed filed when handed to prison authorities for mailing to the federal court. Cook v. Stegall, 295 F.3d 517, 521 (6th Cir. 2002). Petitioner placed his petition in the prison mailing system on July 17, 2019. (Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.16.)

         The petition raises six grounds for relief, as follows:

I. REMOVAL FROM THE TRIAL DURING VOIR DIRE REGARDING [PETITIONER'S] MINOR COMMENTS, NO WARNING BY JUDGE AND DEPRIVATION OF THE RIGHT TO COUNSEL REQUIRE A NEW TRIAL.
II. IMPERMISSIBLE ARGUMENT DISGUISED AS EVIDENCE DEPRIVED [PETITIONER] OF A FUNDAMENTALLY FAIR TRIAL AND DUE PROCESS OF LAW.
III. PROBATION OFFICER HEARSAY TESTIMONY AFFIRMING COMPLAINANT'S STORY REQUIRES A NEW TRIAL.
IV. INEFFECTIVE OF CONSTITUTION [SIC] AND INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.
V. [PETITIONER] WAS DENIED HIS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS AND A FAIR TRIAL WHERE THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT ALLOWED THE PROSECUTION TO IMPROPERLY INTERJECT CRITICAL CASE-SPECIFIC FACTS ABOUT THE CASE TO FORM ITS QUESTIONS DURING VOIR DIRE; AND APPOINTED COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE FOR FAILING TO OBJECT.
VI. [PETITIONER'S] RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS WAS VIOLATED WHERE THE RECORD CLEARLY REVEALS THAT THE TRIAL COURT NEVER CONDUCTED AN ARRAIGNMENT AFTER THE PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION; AND ...

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