United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION  AND MOTION TO EXPAND THE CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY  AND GRANTING PETITION FOR APPOINTMENT OF
J. MICHELSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dantzler came before this Court seeking habeas corpus relief
from his Michigan state court conviction for first-degree
murder. The Court carefully considered each of Dantzler's
10 claims, but ultimately denied habeas corpus relief.
(See ECF No. 27.) The Court did grant a certificate
of appealability for Dantzler's fifth and eighth habeas
claims relating to ineffective assistance of counsel for
failure to secure independent DNA testing or a DNA expert to
testify at trial. (ECF No. 27, PageID.2242-2243.) Dantzler
now asks the Court to reconsider its denial of his fifth and
eighth habeas claims. (ECF No. 29.) Separately, Dantzler also
asks the Court to expand the certificate of appealability to
include claims two and seven (ECF No. 30) and to appoint
appellate counsel (ECF No. 31). For the reasons that follow,
the Court will deny Dantzler's motion for reconsideration
and motion to expand the certificate of appealability. The
Court will grant Dantzler's petition for appointment of
was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury in Michigan
the trial, the key piece of evidence against Dantzler was a
black knit cap found at the crime scene. Testing identified
Dantzler's DNA on the hat, as well as additional DNA
samples that could not be positively identified. (ECF No.
7-14, PageID.772-773, 775-778, 785.) Dantzler's trial
counsel requested and was granted funds to hire an
independent expert to analyze the DNA evidence, but he failed
to actually obtain additional testing or an expert for trial.
(ECF No. 7-18, PageID.1159.) There was some other limited
evidence linking Dantzler to the crime, including testimony
from the victim's mother, Janet Burt, that a gold car
seen outside her home before the murder was Dantzler's
car and speculation that Dantzler had a motive to commit the
crime because the woman beaten by the victim was his niece.
(ECF No. 7-13, PageID.598-599; ECF No. 7-15, PageID.969.)
Additionally, the jury heard testimony from Dantzler himself
as well as Dantzler's alibi witness. (ECF No. 7-15,
appealed his conviction and later filed a motion for relief
from judgment in state court. All were denied.
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court.
(ECF No. 1.) The Court stayed the case so that Dantzler could
return to state court to exhaust his ineffective assistance
of counsel claims. (ECF No. 10.) After those claims were
denied, Dantzler returned to this Court and filed a
supplemental brief raising a total of 10 claims for relief.
(ECF No. 11.) Ultimately, the Court denied Dantzler's
habeas petition on the merits, but granted him a certificate
of appealability on two claims. (ECF No. 27.) Dantzler now
seeks reconsideration of the Court's denial of his habeas
petition. In the alternative, Dantzler requests that the
Court expand the certificate of appealability to include two
additional claims and appoint counsel for his appeal.
Rule 7.1 permits a party to move for “rehearing or
reconsideration . . . within 14 days after entry of the
judgment or order.” E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h)(1). The
moving party must “demonstrate a palpable defect by
which the court and the parties and other persons entitled to
be heard on the motion have been misled” and then
“show that correcting the defect will result in a
different disposition of the case.” E.D. Mich. L.R.
to demonstrate there was a palpable defect that affected the
Court's opinion, Dantzler points to a portion of his
trial transcript in which a forensic biologist for the
Detroit Police Department testified that the hat could not be
retested because it had been handled. (ECF No. 29,
PageID.2256.) Dantzler suggests that this fact was overlooked
by the Court and led to a palpable defect in the Court's
analysis of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. But
whether the hat can ever be retested does not-and
cannot-change the Court's conclusion.
Court denied Dantzler's claim of ineffective assistance
of counsel related to DNA testing of the hat for multiple
reasons. First, the Court held that the state court's
rejection of the claim, which held that the trial
counsel's performance was not deficient, was not
unreasonable under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”). Second, the Court found that even if
counsel's performance were found to be deficient,
Dantzler could not establish prejudice, as required under
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 694 (1984).
The Court found that the benefits an independent DNA expert
could have provided were too speculative to establish
argues here that he is forever prejudiced because the hat was
tainted during the trial and it can never be retested for
other DNA matches. But this unfortunate truth is not enough
to meet the legal definition of prejudice: “there is a
reasonable probability that, but for counsel's