763 F.2d 191 (6th Cir. 1985), 83-1558, Bowen v. Foltz

Docket Nº:83-1558.
Citation:763 F.2d 191
Party Name:Ivie BOWEN, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Dale FOLTZ, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:May 28, 1985
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 191

763 F.2d 191 (6th Cir. 1985)

Ivie BOWEN, Petitioner-Appellant,


Dale FOLTZ, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 83-1558.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

May 28, 1985

Argued April 15, 1985.

Page 192

James M. Cohen, argued, Southfield, Mich. (Court appointed), for petitioner-appellant.

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen. of Michigan, Edgar L. Church, Jr., argued, Lansing, Mich., for respondent-appellee.

Before CONTIE and WELLFORD, Circuit Judges, and EDWARDS, Senior Circuit Judge.

WELLFORD, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner 1 was tried along with three co-conspirators on three counts of first degree felony murder arising from his role as organizer of an October 1, 1974, robbery that resulted in the deaths of Joseph, Salvatore, and Michael Biondo. Lanetia Avereyette, 2 who accompanied petitioner in the getaway car, later turned state's evidence, and testified that prior to the robbery attempt petitioner picked up Leatherwood, Irby, and Peters, the three co-conspirators, and drove with them to the store. She saw petitioner go into the market and return shortly thereafter telling the others that "everything was like he said." She and petitioner remained in the car while the co-conspirators entered the store. She testified that they returned less than five minutes later with Leatherwood and Peters complaining that Irby had shot everyone present. Sheila Ducksworth, a customer in the store during the robbery, testified that petitioner briefly came into the store and left; five minutes later the three co-conspirators entered the store, committed the robbery and shot the Biondos. Her testimony was corroborated by another eye witness, Richard Anderson.

Petitioner and his co-conspirators were convicted on three counts of first degree felony murder in Michigan state court. Petitioner received the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, M.C.L.A. Sec. 750.316, on each count, without parole.

At trial the state judge gave the following instruction concerning felony murder:

The murder statute, as I have given it to you, provides in pertinent part the following:

All murder which shall be committed in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate any arson, rape, robbery, burglary, larceny of any kind, extortion or kidnapping, shall be murder in the first degree.

Now that's the part of the statute that this prosecution has been brought. And I will read it again to you ...

Now you will note that I haven't said anything at all about premeditation or malice aforethought. See in common law murder the prosecution would have had to prove that, premeditation, deliberation and malice aforethought.

The law automatically makes that type of a killing murder in the first degree. All the prosecution has to do under this law is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to your satisfaction, the jurors, you jurors, that [unreadable] Biondo, Salvatore Biondo and Michael Biondo were killed during the perpetration of a robbery, or attempt[ed] perpetration of a robbery. If they can [unreadable] satisfaction beyond a reasonable doubt, then the law says this is murder in the first degree.

(emphasis added).

Petitioner requests habeas corpus relief claiming that because the Michigan Supreme Court failed to apply a new rule of law retroactively, his constitutional rights were violated. Petitioner also claims ineffective assistance of counsel on his original appeal as of right from his conviction. We AFFIRM the district court's denial of habeas relief on all grounds.

In People v. Aaron, 409 Mich.App. 672, 733-34, 299 N.W.2d 304 (1980), the Michigan Supreme Court prospectively abrogated

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the longstanding felony-murder rule in Michigan, holding:

[I]n order to convict a defendant of murder as that term is defined by Michigan case law, it must be shown that he acted with intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm or with a wanton and willful disregard of the likelihood that the natural tendency of his behavior is to cause death or great bodily harm. We further hold that the issue of malice must always be submitted to the jury.

The first-degree murder statute will continue to operate in that all murder committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of the enumerated felonies will be elevated to first-degree murder.

This decision shall apply to all trials in progress and those occurring after the date of this opinion. (emphasis added). The Michigan courts have steadfastly stuck to the decision not to give retroactive effect to the new rule. People v. King, 411 Mich. 939, 308 N.W.2d 425 (1981); People v. Smith, 108 Mich.App. 338, 342, 310 N.W.2d 235 (1981). Petitioner claims that prospective only application of a new rule of criminal law is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has addressed in a civil context the propriety of refusing to make a new rule of law retroactive:

This is a case where a court has refused to make its ruling retroactive, and the novel stand is taken that the constitution of the United States is infringed by the refusal.

We think the federal constitution has no voice upon the subject. A state in defining the limits of adherence to precedent may make a choice for itself between the principle of forward operation and that of relation backward. It may say that decisions of its highest court, though later overruled, are law none the less for intermediate transactions. Indeed, there are cases intimating, too broadly [citations omitted], that it must give them that effect; but never has doubt been expressed that it may so treat them if it pleases, whenever injustice or hardship will thereby be averted .... The choice for any state [in deciding to or not to make a decision retroactive] may be determined by the juristic philosophy of the judges of her courts, the conceptions of law its origin and nature. We review not the wisdom of their philosophies, but the legality of their acts. The State of Montana has told us by the voice of her highest court that with these alternative methods open to her, her preference is for the first [no retroactivity].

Great Northern Railway Co. v. Sunburst Oil & Refining Co., 287 U.S. 358, 364-65, 53 S.Ct. 145, 148-49...

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