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Clemons v. Klee

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

September 10, 2019

William Earl Clemons, III, Petitioner,
v.
Paul D. Klee, Respondent.

          Elizabeth A. Stafford Mag. Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING (1) PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS; (2) A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY; AND (3) LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          JUDITH E. LEVY United States District Judge

         William Earl Clemons, III, (“petitioner”), who is presently residing at 5300 Lawton in Detroit, Michigan, [1] has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his pro se application, petitioner challenges his conviction for one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.520d(1)(b), and being a fourth felony habitual offender, § 769.12. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         I. Background

         Petitioner was charged with sexually assaulting the babysitter of his two minor children. On October 23, 2012, Faith Marie Taylor testified at the Preliminary Examination that after relocating from North Carolina to Michigan, she met petitioner in front of a car wash when her car broke down. Petitioner volunteered to help and purchased a water pump to repair her car. Taylor and petitioner exchanged phone numbers and a few days later, petitioner sent a series of sexually explicit pictures to Taylor. Taylor told petitioner to stop disrespecting her, and petitioner stopped sending any further indecent pictures or messages. (ECF No. 8-2, PageID.362-68.)

         A couple of days later, petitioner called and asked Taylor if she could babysit his two children. Petitioner agreed to pay Taylor $15.00 an hour to watch his two sons. Petitioner picked Taylor up and initially took her to a friend's house. He then took her to a park. It became apparent to Taylor that petitioner was waiting for his girlfriend to leave the apartment for work, before bringing Taylor to the apartment. Petitioner provided Taylor with his ID and instructions to remain at the park. He later returned with the two boys in a double stroller and left alone shortly thereafter. Taylor babysat the children at the park for about an hour before petitioner returned to walk the group back to his apartment. (Id. at PageID.368-76.)

         Upon arriving at the apartment, petitioner told Taylor that he was going to take a shower and then be gone for three hours. He instructed her to put the boys to sleep. After petitioner got out of the shower and dressed, Taylor became concerned that petitioner was not going to leave. Petitioner confirmed that he did not have plans to leave the apartment. (Id. at PageID.375-78.)

         Taylor testified that petitioner began drinking and touching her inappropriately. She asked that he stop. Taylor further testified that she went into the bathroom where her phone was charging. Petitioner went into his bedroom. Taylor then also went into the bedroom to ask petitioner to call her a cab and she told him that she was “ready to get the hell out of this house.” (Id. at PageID.384.)

         Next, Taylor testified about the sexual assault. After she asked to leave, petitioner “dropped his pants and showed his penis.” (Id. at PageID.385.) At this point, she testified that he had a gun, pointed it at her, and eventually threw her onto the bed. She testified that he “pulled [her] shorts down and stuck his two fingers in [her] vagina” while he held a gun a foot away from her head. Shortly after penetrating her, petitioner cried, said he was sorry, and begged Taylor to forgive him. (Id. at PageID.385-87.)

         Petitioner pleaded no-contest in the Oakland County Circuit Court to a reduced charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and being a fourth habitual offender. The judge took his plea as follows:

         On February 28, 2013, petitioner entered his plea as follows:

THE COURT: And do you understand that you are pleading no contest to one count of criminal sexual conduct in the 3rd degree and habitual fourth?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: And do you know that the most time you could receive on the underlying charge is fifteen years and with the habitual it could be life and the shortest time you must do is a term of years?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: And pursuant to People v Cobbs, have there been any statements about your sentence?
MR. CLEMONS: No, your Honor. Oh yes yeah, sure.
THE COURT: You understand that the court is willing to go along with the agreement of five to fifteen?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: And is there a plea bargain?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: And has that whole plea bargain been stated on the Record?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Sir, do you understand that you have that a [sic] right to have your own lawyer represent you from start to finish, including trial, sentence and appeal and the court will appoint a lawyer for you if you cannot afford a lawyer of your own choice?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you understand that you have a right to a trial by jury, or by a Judge without a jury, if the prosecutor and the Judge agree?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you understand that throughout the trial you are presumed innocent unless the prosecutor proves your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you understand that you have a right to have all the witnesses against you appear at the trial, to have your lawyer ask those witnesses questions, and to have the court order any witnesses you may have to appear at the trial?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you understand that you do not have to testify at trial and no one can say anything about your [sic] not testifying or hold it against you? On the other hand, do you understand you have the right to testify at trial if you want to?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you understand that if this court accepts your no contest plea you will not have a trial of any kind and you will be giving up these rights that I've just told you about. You'll also be giving up any claim that your plea was the result of promises and threats that were not disclosed to the court and that it was not your choice to plead no contest?
MR. CLEMONS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you understand that any appeal from the conviction and sentence following the plea will be by application for ...

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