United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER ON REMAND
J. TARNOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
habeas case is before the Court on remand from the Court of
Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. On May 28, 2015, the Court
issued an Opinion and Order Conditionally Granting Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus based upon violations of the
Confrontation Clause and the right to effective assistance of
counsel. Wright v. Rivard, 2015 WL 3441154 (E.D.
Mich. May 28, 2015). Respondent appealed the Court's
Opinion and Order. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated
this Court's decision and remanded the case for further
proceedings consistent with its Amended
Opinion. Wright v. Burt, 665 Fed.Appx. 403
(6th Cir. 2016), cert. den. 137 S.Ct. 2166 (May 22,
Court now denies relief on Wright's remaining claims.
was convicted by a jury in Wayne County Circuit Court of
first-degree murder and carrying a concealed weapon. He is
serving a term of life imprisonment for the murder conviction
and 2 to 5 years' imprisonment for the fiream conviction.
convictions arise from the shooting death of Travis Goodwin
on December 29, 2007. Goodwin was shot while sitting in a
parked van outside his mother's home on Kimberly Street
in Detroit. Wright was convicted as an aider and abettor. It
was the prosecution's theory that Wright drove the
gunmen, Patrick Pickett (“Worm”) and Shondell
Dalton (“Black”), to the scene and, after the
gunmen shot Goodwin, drove them away from the scene. Wright
maintained that it was a case of mistaken identity.
prosecution's key witness was Dawayne Currie. Currie
testified that, at approximately 2:00 a.m. on the night of
the shooting, he was playing video games with his daughter.
He saw Goodwin pull up and park his mother's van. About
20 minutes later, Currie heard gunshots. After taking his
daughter to a back room, he returned to look out the front
window. Currie saw Black backing away from the van while
firing an AK47 assault rifle. He also saw Worm getting into
the passenger side of Wright's black Charger holding a
handgun. Currie identified Wright as the driver of the
Charger. Black and Worm wore ski masks, but Currie
nevertheless identified them based upon Black's
distinctive walk and Worm's body type. Wright was not
wearing a ski mask and Currie was able to see Wright's
face and braided hair.
admitted that, a few weeks before the murder, Wright paid him
$100 to burn down Worm's drug house. Currie knew Wright
was going to tell Worm that Goodwin had set the fire. After
Wright's arrest, Currie's father and girlfriend
conveyed to Currie an offer by Wright to pay Currie not to
come to court.
Smiley, Goodwin's mother, testified that she was awakened
by gunshots during the early morning hours of December 29,
2007. Her neighbor, Dawayne Currie, knocked on her door to
tell her that Goodwin had been shot. Goodwin was taken to the
hospital and died on January 10, 2008, without ever regaining
consciousness. Smiley then provided hearsay testimony, over
defense counsel's objection, about Goodwin's reaction
to the burning down of a drug house located on the adjacent
street. Smiley testified that Goodwin told her that the
destroyed house was Worm's and that Goodwin was concerned
that “they gonna think I did it.”
Wright, 2010 WL 5373811 at *2.
police Officer Alfred G. Thomas also testified about
Goodwin's out-of-court statements over defense
counsel's objection. Less than one month before the
shooting, Goodwin flagged down Thomas when Thomas was
patrolling Goodwin's neighborhood. Goodwin told Thomas
that he had received threats from Wright, Damien Bell, and
Tommy Dickey, who were expanding the territory of their drug
habeas petition raised these claims:
I. The trial court violated due process by admitting the
hearsay statements of the deceased victim to his mother and
to Officer Thomas. Moreover, the trial court committed plain
error by failing to give a limiting jury instruction on the
use of the same.
II. The admission of out-of-court statements violated
Petitioner's right to confrontation.
III. The trial court committed plain error in failing to
instruct the jury that it should view Mr. Currie's
testimony with caution as he was an accomplice to the crime.
IV. Prosecutorial misconduct denied Petitioner his right to a
V. Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel
by his counsel's failure to object to the out-of-court
statements on constitutional grounds, failure to request
limiting instructions, failure to request accomplice
instruction, and failure to object to the prosecutor's
VI. The principal witness, Dawayne Currie, committed palpable
perjury and therefore there is constitutionally insufficient
evidence to support the verdict.
claims that his right to confrontation was violated when the
trial court admitted Goodwin's statements to Officer
Thomas and that defense counsel was ineffective in failing to
object to this violation have been addressed on the merits.
On remand, the Court addresses Wright's remaining claims.
habeas petition is reviewed under the exacting standards set
forth in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
1996 (AEDPA), Pub.L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (Apr. 24,
1996). Under AEDPA, a federal court cannot grant habeas
relief with respect to any claim adjudicated on the merits in
a state-court proceeding unless the state adjudication of the
(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;
(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.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), (2).
state court's decision is ‘contrary to' . . .
clearly established law if it ‘applies a rule that
contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court
cases]' or if it ‘confronts a set of facts that are
materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme]
Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from
[this] precedent.'” Mitchell v. Esparza,
540 U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003) (per curiam), quoting Williams
v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). “[T]he
‘unreasonable application' prong of the statute
permits a federal habeas court to ‘grant the writ if
the state court identifies the correct governing legal
principle from [the Supreme] Court but unreasonably applies
that principle to the facts' of petitioner's
case.” Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520
(2003) quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 413. “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), quoting Yarborough v.
Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004). “Section
2254(d) reflects the view that habeas corpus is a guard
against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice
systems, not a substitute for ordinary error correction
through appeal. . . . As a condition for obtaining habeas
corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must 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.”
Id. at 786-87 (internal quotation omitted). To
obtain relief under § 2254(d)(2), a petitioner must show
an unreasonable determination of fact and that the
resulting state court decision was “based on”
that unreasonable determination. Rice v. White, 660
F.3d 242, 250 (6th Cir. 2012).
a federal habeas court must presume the correctness of state
court factual determinations. See 28 U.S.C. §
2254(e)(1). A petitioner may rebut this presumption only with
clear and convincing evidence. Warren v. Smith, 161
F.3d 358, 360-61 (6th Cir. 1998).