617 F.3d 813 (6th Cir. 2010), 09-1215, Fields v. Howes

Docket Nº:09-1215.
Citation:617 F.3d 813
Opinion Judge:DAN AARON POLSTER, District Judge.
Party Name:Randall Lee FIELDS, Petitioner-Appellee, v. Carol HOWES, Respondent-Appellant.
Attorney:Brian O. Neill, Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellant. Elizabeth L. Jacobs, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee. Brian O. Neill, Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellant. Elizabeth L. Jacobs, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee. Randall...
Judge Panel:Before: CLAY and McKEAGUE, Circuit Judges; POLSTER, District Judge. [*] POLSTER, D.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which CLAY, J., joined. McKEAGUE, J. (pp. 824-28), delivered a separate concurring opinion. McKEAGUE, Circuit Judge, concurring.
Case Date:August 20, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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617 F.3d 813 (6th Cir. 2010)

Randall Lee FIELDS, Petitioner-Appellee,

v.

Carol HOWES, Respondent-Appellant.

No. 09-1215.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

August 20, 2010

Argued: March 5, 2010.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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ARGUED:

Brian O. Neill, Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellant.

Elizabeth L. Jacobs, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Brian O. Neill, Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellant.

Elizabeth L. Jacobs, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee. Randall Lee Fields, Detroit, Michigan, pro se.

Before: CLAY and McKEAGUE, Circuit Judges; POLSTER, District Judge. [*]

POLSTER, D.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which CLAY, J., joined. McKEAGUE, J. (pp. 824-28), delivered a separate concurring opinion.

OPINION

DAN AARON POLSTER, District Judge.

Appellant appeals the district court's conditional grant of the petition of writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court found that the Michigan Court of Appeals unreasonably applied established federal law in determining that a confession made by Appellee was properly admitted into evidence. For the following reasons, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Appellee Randall Lee Fields was incarcerated at the Lenawee County Sheriff's Department for disorderly conduct on December 23, 2001, when a corrections officer escorted him from his cell to a locked conference room in the main area of the sheriff's department. Fields was not advised of where he was being taken or for what purpose. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit, but was not handcuffed or otherwise chained.

In the conference room, Fields was questioned by Deputy David Batterson and Deputy Dale Sharp about his relationship with Travis Bice, whom Fields had met when Bice was a minor. The questioning commenced between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. and lasted for approximately seven hours. Fields was not read his Miranda rights but was told that if he did not want to cooperate he was free to leave the conference room at any time. Leaving the locked conference room would have taken nearly twenty minutes, as a corrections officer would have had to have been summoned to return Fields to his cell.

Fields did not ask for an attorney or to go back to his cell. However, he told the officers more than once that he did not want to speak with them anymore. At one point in the interview, Fields became angry and started yelling. Deputy Batterson testified that he told Fields he was not going to tolerate being talked to like that and that Fields was welcome to return to his cell. Additionally, Deputy Sharp testified that Deputy Batterson told Fields that if he continued to yell the interview would be terminated. Fields testified that he was told to " sit my fucking ass down" and that " if I didn't want to cooperate, I could leave." (Dist. Ct. Doc. 15 at 24.)

During the interview, Deputy Batterson told Fields that there had been allegations of a sexual nature involving Bice. Fields initially did not acknowledge any sexual relationship with Bice, but he eventually admitted to masturbating Bice and engaging in oral sex with him on at least two occasions. Prior to trial in the Lenawee County Circuit Court, the trial judge denied Fields' motion to suppress these

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statements. At trial, over the renewed objection of defense counsel, Deputy Batterson testified to Fields' jailhouse admissions. Fields was ultimately convicted of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced on December 5, 2002, to a prison term of ten to fifteen years.

Fields filed an appeal of right in the Michigan Court of Appeals on three grounds. The ground relevant to the instant appeal asserted that " [t]he trial court violated Mr. Fields' due process rights by admitting his alleged custodial statement where Mr. Fields was in custody in the county jail and the Lenawee County sheriff interrogated him for as much as 7 hours without providing Miranda warnings." ( See Dist. Ct. Doc. 35 at 2.) The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, holding that because Fields " was unquestionably in custody, but on a matter unrelated to the interrogation" and " was told that he was free to leave the conference room and return to his cell ... [but] never asked to leave ... Miranda warnings were not required ..." People v. Fields, No. 246041, 2004 WL 979732, at *2 (Mich.App. May 6, 2004). The Michigan Supreme Court denied Fields leave to appeal the Michigan Court of Appeals' decision. People v. Fields, 471 Mich. 933, 689 N.W.2d 233 (Mich.2004) (table).

Fields then filed a pro se petition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, for a writ of habeas corpus on the same grounds as his direct appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. The district court conditionally granted Fields's habeas petition, holding that the state court unreasonably applied Mathis v. United States, 391 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1503, 20 L.Ed.2d 381 (1968) and that the state court's error was not harmless. Appellant Carol Howes, Warden of the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan, has appealed the district court's decision.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The district court's grant of a writ of habeas corpus is reviewed de novo. Miller v. Webb, 385 F.3d 666, 671 (6th Cir.2004). Findings of fact are reviewed for clear error unless the district court's decision is based on the transcripts from the petitioner's state court trial, in which case the findings of fact are reviewed de novo. Wolfe v. Brigano, 232 F.3d 499, 501 (6th Cir.2000). Questions of law and mixed questions of law and fact are also reviewed de novo. Ruelas v. Wolfenbarger, 580 F.3d 403, 408 (6th Cir.2009).

III. ANALYSIS

Appellant argues that the district court misinterpreted and erroneously applied 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) by determining that the state court adjudication was objectively unreasonable.1

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), which is part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (" AEDPA" ), provides that:

(d) 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-

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(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.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).

The district court made no findings of fact because the parties agreed there were no factual disputes. Thus, we are left to examine, de novo, whether the Michigan Court of Appeals' decision was contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law.

A state court decision is contrary to clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court if: (1) the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law; or (2) the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a Supreme Court decision and nevertheless arrives at a result different from Supreme Court precedent. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 406, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000); Thaler v. Haynes, __ U.S. __, 130 S.Ct. 1171, 1173-74, __ L.Ed.2d __ (2010). A state court unreasonably applies clearly established federal law if the state court identifies the correct governing legal rule from the Supreme Court's cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the state prisoner's case. Thaler, __ U.S. at __ - __, 130 S.Ct. at 1173-74. A state court's application of federal law must be " objectively unreasonable" to be an unreasonable application of federal law under § 2254(d)(1). Williams, 529 U.S. at 409, 120 S.Ct. 1495; McDaniel v. Brown, __ U.S. __, 130 S.Ct. 665, 673, 175 L.Ed.2d 582 (2010). Critically, " an unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law." Williams, 529 U.S. at 410, 120 S.Ct. 1495 (emphasis in original); Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75, 123 S.Ct. 1166, 155 L.Ed.2d 144 (2003). Nevertheless, if the Supreme Court has not " broken sufficient legal ground to establish [a] ... constitutional principle, the lower federal courts cannot themselves establish such a principle with clarity sufficient to satisfy the AEDPA bar" under either the contrary to or unreasonable application standard. Williams, 529 U.S. at 381, 120 S.Ct. 1495.

The Fifth Amendment provides that no person " ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself ..." U.S. CONST. amend. V. In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444-45, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), the Supreme Court held that this privilege against self-incrimination applies to a criminal suspect subjected to custodial interrogation. Specifically, statements taken during a custodial interrogation cannot be admitted to establish the guilt of the accused unless the accused was provided a full and effective warning of his rights at the outset of the interrogation process and knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waived his rights. Id. Custodial interrogation is " questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." Id.

Miranda only applies if the suspect was (1) interrogated while (2) in custody. See e.g., Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 300, 100 S.Ct. 1682, 64 L.Ed.2d 297 (1980) (" It is clear therefore that the special...

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