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Quinn v. Sprader

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

November 19, 2019

MICAH ISHONE QUINN, Petitioner,
v.
SCOTT SPRADER, Respondent.

          OPINION

          GORDON J. QUIST 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 concludes that the petition must be dismissed because it fails to raise a meritorious federal claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Petitioner Micah Ishone Quinn is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF) in Munising, Alger County, Michigan. Following a jury trial in the Muskegon County Circuit Court, Petitioner was convicted of armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, unlawful imprisonment, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.349b, and two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony firearm), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. On February 23, 2015, the court sentenced Petitioner to concurrent prison terms of 21 to 40 years on the armed-robbery conviction and 10 to 15 years on the unlawful-imprisonment conviction, to be served consecutively to the two concurrent 2-year terms on the felony-firearm convictions.

         On June 18, 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 June 18, 2019. (Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.9.)

         The petition raises three grounds for relief, as follows:

I. THE [PETITIONER] WAS DENIED DUE PROCESS AND A FAIR TRIAL BY PETITIONER'S IDENTIFICATION BY THE COMPLAINING WITNESS COURT AFTER THE COMPLAIN[ANT] VIEWED [PETITIONER'S] PICTURE IN THE PAPER IDENTIFYING HIM AS A PERSON ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH THIS CASE[.]
II. THE [PETITIONER] IS ENTITLED TO A NEW TRIAL AS HE WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.
III. THE [PETITIONER] IS ENTITLED TO BE RESENTENCED BECAUSE THE FACTS IN SUPPORT OF SOME OF HIS OFFENSE VARIABLE SCORES WERE NOT FOUND BY THE JURY TO BE PROVEN BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, HE WAS SENTENCED PRIOR TO JULY 29, 2015, AND THE SIXTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION ALTERED THE GUIDELINES RANGE.

(Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.6-7.)

         The following statement of the facts underlying Petitioner's conviction are taken from the opinion of the Michigan Court of Appeals:

This appeal arises out of the robbery of a pizza delivery man, Roy Ferguson. As Ferguson was delivering an order to a house in Muskegon, defendant and codefendant Taylin Alexander Glenn followed Ferguson to the door, and defendant put a gun to the back of Ferguson's head. Ferguson was ordered to walk back to his car and to empty his pockets, which included approximately $20, his cell phone, wallet, and keys. Defendant took Ferguson's money and wallet and then ordered Ferguson into the trunk of the car. Ferguson complied. Unsure of what to do with Ferguson, Glenn and defendant drove the car while Ferguson was locked in the trunk.
After stopping the car multiple times to physically assault Ferguson, Glenn and defendant stopped the car a final time, unlocked the trunk, and told Ferguson to count to 100 before exiting the trunk. After counting to 100, Ferguson exited the trunk and began walking to the nearest gas station to call the police.
After a police investigation, defendant was arrested and charged with armed robbery, unlawful imprisonment, and two counts of felony-firearm. A jury convicted defendant as charged and this appeal ensued.

People v. Quinn, No. 326738, 2016 WL 3767491, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. July 14, 2016).

         Petitioner does not dispute the court's summary of the facts. Indeed, in the statement of facts set forth in his own memorandum of law in support of the habeas petition, Petitioner sets forth far more detail concerning the incident. The victim testified that, during the incident, which occurred on March 19, 2014, the perpetrators had him strip down to his underwear and that, in addition to the items listed by the court of appeals, they took his clothes, his belt, his Domino's jacket, and a radio. (Pet'r's Mem. of Law in Supp. of Pet., ECF No. 1-1, PageID.21, 25-26.[1]) Further, during one of the occasions on which the perpetrators removed the victim from the trunk, the perpetrators had the victim get on his knees and pray, while they held a gun to his head. One of the perpetrators-not Petitioner-pulled the trigger, but it just clicked. The perpetrators then said, “[H]a ha got you.” (Id. at 22, 26.) The victim was hit in the jaw with the butt of the gun, and he then was hit in the teeth. (Id.) Both men hit and kicked the victim. (Id. at 22.) The victim suffered a broken nose, a black eye, and broken teeth. (Id. at 26.)

         According to the victim, the man who pulled the trigger was holding a black handgun, and the other man was holding a silver revolver. The victim had not seen either man before. (Id. at 22.) The witness saw the face of the man with the silver gun for about 10 seconds, before being ordered to look away. (Id.) The man with the silver gun was the person who told the victim what to do and when to do it. (Id.) Although both men wore hoodies and the victim had only a limited opportunity to look at the perpetrators directly, the victim identified the man with the silver gun as Petitioner. (Id.)

         The incident occurred at night, on Tuesday, going into Wednesday. On Friday, the victim viewed a photo lineup, but he was unable to identify anyone. (Id.) Petitioner's photograph was not in the photo lineup. (Id.) Sometime after the photo lineup, but before the preliminary examination, the victim was told that there were two confessions in the case. (Id.) During the same period, the victim saw an article in the newspaper, which contained pictures of the two suspects. The victim thereafter was able to identify the two men. (Id. at 22.)

         On March 27, 2019, Detective Peter Boterenbrood advised Petitioner of his Miranda rights and conducted a video-recorded interview. During the interview, Petitioner admitted that he and his codefendant, Taylin Glenn, ordered some pizza and took part in the armed robbery. Petitioner admitted that he was the man with the silver pistol. (Id. at 23.) In addition, Petitioner made admissions to being involved with Glenn in an earlier robbery of Brian Scott, at which time Scott's phone was stolen. (Id. at 30-31.) During the investigation, police officers traced the number from which the pizza order was made and discovered that it was made from Scott's phone, which had been stolen a week earlier. Police traced the numbers called after the phone was stolen and identified Petitioner's phone number. (Id.) They pinged the number to track it, which led them to 1538 Hoyt Street. Police conducted surveillance on the address, and Petitioner was arrested. A search warrant was executed later that same day. (Id.)

         Petitioner was offered a Cobbs[2] plea agreement, with a sentence evaluation of 21 years on the armed robbery, plus 2 years for the felony firearm. Petitioner rejected the plea agreement at the September 26, 2014, plea hearing. (Id. at 24.) However, on September 30, 2014, the first day of trial, Petitioner elected to accept the plea agreement and entered a no-contest plea. The court accepted the plea. (Id.)

         On November 4, 2014, the scheduled date of sentencing, Petitioner moved to withdraw his plea. He contended that he was not guilty, that he had been high at the time he confessed to the crime, and that he was covering for someone else. The court allowed Petitioner to withdraw the plea and also granted his request for a different court-appointed attorney. (Id. at 25.)

         Trial began on January 20, 2015. The victim again identified Petitioner as the man with the silver gun. On cross-examination, the victim acknowledged that he had seen Petitioner's picture in the paper and that, while he had not remembered exactly what his assailant looked like, he immediately recognized Petitioner from the picture. The victim denied that the picture had influenced his identification. (Id. at 27.)

         Petitioner testified at trial, denying that he had committed the offense, but admitting that he had made admissions to the police and had written an apology letter to the victim. (Id. at 34.) Plaintiff contends that he was high at the time of his statement and that he felt pressured to make the statement. (Id.)

         The jury found Petitioner guilty of the charged offenses on January 21, 2015. On February 23, 2015, Petitioner was sentenced to the same terms of imprisonment received by his codefendant. (Id. at 36.)

         Petitioner appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, raising the same three issues presented in his habeas petition. In an unpublished opinion issued on July 14, 2016, the court of appeals denied all appellate grounds and affirmed the convictions. Petitioner sought leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court on the same three grounds. The supreme court denied leave to appeal on May 1, 2018.

         II. AEDPA standard

         This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA). The AEDPA “prevents federal habeas ‘retrials'” and ensures that state court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under the law. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002). An application for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person who is incarcerated pursuant to a state conviction cannot be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the adjudication: “(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 upon an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This standard is “intentionally difficult to meet.” Woods v. Donald, 575 U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015) (internal quotation omitted).

         The AEDPA limits the source of law to cases decided by the United States Supreme Court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This Court may consider only the holdings, and not the dicta, of the Supreme Court. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000); Bailey v. Mitchell, 271 F.3d 652, 655 (6th Cir. 2001). In determining whether federal law is clearly established, the Court may not consider the decisions of lower federal courts. Lopez v. Smith, 574 U.S. 1, 4 (2014); Marshall v. Rodgers, 569 U.S. 58, 64 (2013); Parker v. Matthews, 567 U.S. 37, 48-49 (2012); Williams, 529 U.S. at 381-82; Miller v. Straub, 299 F.3d 570, 578-79 (6th Cir. 2002). Moreover, “clearly established Federal law” does not include decisions of the Supreme Court announced after the last adjudication of the merits in state court. Greene v. Fisher, 565 U.S. 34, 37-38 (2011). Thus, the inquiry is limited to an examination of the legal landscape as it would have appeared to the Michigan state courts in light of Supreme Court precedent at the time of the state-court adjudication on the merits. Miller v. Stovall, 742 F.3d 642, 644 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Greene, 565 U.S. at 38).

         A federal habeas court may issue the writ under the “contrary to” clause if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in the Supreme Court's cases, or if it decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Bell, 535 U.S. at 694 (citing Williams, 529 U.S. at 405-06). “To satisfy this high bar, a habeas petitioner is required to ‘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.'” Woods, 135 S.Ct. at 1376 (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011)). In other words, “[w]here the precise contours of the right remain unclear, state courts enjoy broad discretion in their adjudication of a prisoner's claims.” White v. Woodall, 572 U.S. 415, 424 (2014) (internal quotations omitted).

         The AEDPA requires heightened respect for state factual findings. Herbert v. Billy, 160 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1998). A determination of a factual issue made by a state court is presumed to be correct, and the petitioner has the burden of rebutting the presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Davis v. Lafler, 658 F.3d 525, 531 (6th Cir. 2011) (en banc); Lancaster v. Adams, 324 F.3d 423, 429 (6th Cir. 2003); Bailey, 271 F.3d at 656. This presumption of correctness is accorded to findings of state appellate courts, as well as the trial court. See Sumner v. Mata, 449 U.S. 539, 546 (1981); Smith v. Jago, 888 F.2d 399, 407 n.4 (6th Cir. 1989).

         III. ...


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