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Anderson v. Rewerts

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

October 23, 2019




         Tremayne Anderson, (“Petitioner”), confined at the Carson City Correctional Facility in Carson City, Michigan, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges his convictions for two counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, M.C.L.A. 750.84; three counts of second-degree child abuse, M.C.L.A. 750.136b; one count of domestic violence, M.C.L.A. 750.812; and being a fourth felony habitual offender, M.C.L.A. 769.12. For the reasons that follow, the petition for writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was convicted following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court. The jurors acquitted him of four assault with intent to murder charges.

         This Court recites verbatim the relevant facts relied upon by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which are presumed correct on habeas review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). See Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009):

Kishwar Smith and defendant were in a dating relationship in April 2014. Smith testified that on April 19, 2014, she, defendant, nine-year old Tahara Ahmad (Smith's daughter), nine-year-old Brenae Rice (Ahmad's friend), and 18-month-old Ethan Monk (Smith and defendant's son) were all at Smith's friend's house. Smith testified that later that evening at her friend's house, defendant called her a “bitch, ” provoking a fight between defendant and another guest in which defendant got “beat ... up.” Smith testified that the incident made defendant angry. Smith testified that she and the children then left with defendant in his car, and that defendant became irate and began to punch her in the head and rip her hair out. According to Smith, defendant then said, “I might as well just kill us all.” Ahmad and Rice confirmed that defendant threatened to kill everyone. Smith said that defendant abruptly turned, accelerated, and drove over a curb and directly into another car. Smith testified that defendant then put the car in reverse and pulled away. Before he did so, Ahmad and Rice managed to get out of the car. Defendant continued to drive and punch Smith until he accelerated, jumped some railroad tracks, sending the car airborne, and crashed into a concrete barrier near the Detroit River. According to Smith, the airbags deployed and defendant was knocked unconscious.

People v. Anderson, No. 325852, 2016 WL 1040151, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 15, 2016).

         The conviction was affirmed. Id., lv. den. 500 Mich. 867 (2016).

         Petitioner's post-conviction motion for relief from judgment was denied by the trial court, People v. Anderson, No. 14-003712-01 (Third Jud.Cir.Ct., June 2, 2017), and on appeal. People v. Anderson, No. 341143 (Mich.Ct.App. Jan. 4, 2018); lv. den. 502 Mich. 939 (2018).

         Petitioner seeks habeas relief on the following grounds: (1) There was insufficient evidence to support his assault with intent to do great bodily harm convictions, (2) the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jurors on lesser included offenses; alternatively, trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request such instructions, (3) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move for a mistrial or seek a cautionary instruction, (4) the prosecutor improperly vouched for the credibility of witnesses, (5) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate petitioner's claim that he never crashed into a concrete barrier, and (6) newly discovered evidence shows that there was insufficient evidence to convict.

         II. Standard of Review

         28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), imposes the following standard of review for habeas cases:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-
(1) 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 (2) 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.

         A decision of a state court is “contrary to” clearly established federal law if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). An “unreasonable application” occurs when “a state court decision unreasonably applies the law of [the Supreme Court] to the facts of a prisoner's case.” Id. at 409. A federal habeas court may not “issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly.” Id. at 410-11. “[A] state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011).

         III. Discussion

         A. Claims # 1 and # 6. The insufficiency of evidence claims.

         Petitioner challenges the sufficiency of evidence to convict.

         It is beyond question that “the Due Process Clause protects the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged.” In Re Winship,397 U.S. 358, 364 (1970). But the critical inquiry on review of the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction is, “whether the record evidence could reasonably support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318 (1979). This inquiry, however, does not require a court to “ask itself whether it believes that the evidence at the trial established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, the relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most ...

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