Chambers v. McCullick

Decision Date01 March 2022
Docket Number2:19-CV-11396
PartiesSHANE SWINDALL CHAMBERS, Petitioner, v. MARK MCCULLICK, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan



I. Introduction

This is a pro se habeas case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Michigan prisoner Shane Swindall Chambers (Petitioner) was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct using force and causing personal injury, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520b(1)(f), first-degree home invasion, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a(2), and assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.84, following a jury trial in the Kent County Circuit Court. He was sentenced, as a fourth habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.12, to life imprisonment on the criminal sexual conduct conviction, a consecutive term of 25 to 50 years imprisonment on the home invasion conviction, and a concurrent term of 10 to 50 years imprisonment on the assault conviction in 2014. In his pleadings, Petitioner raises claims concerning the admission of other acts evidence, the sufficiency of the evidence, the admission of preliminary examination testimony for unavailable witnesses and the effectiveness of trial counsel, the trial court's jurisdiction, and the conduct of the prosecutor (alleged malicious prosecution).

For the reasons set forth herein, the Court denies the habeas petition. The Court also denies a certificate of appealability and denies leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

II. Facts and Procedural History

Petitioner's convictions arise from a home invasion and assault upon on a 77-year-old woman in Kent County, Michigan on September 19, 2013. The Michigan Court of Appeals described the underlying facts, which are presumed correct on habeas review, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009), as follows:

According to the evidence introduced at trial, the 77-year-old victim, Barbara Andre, was sexually assaulted, beaten, and robbed during a home invasion in the early morning hours of September 19, 2013. Andre, who was asleep on her sofa when the attack began, could not see her assailant, but she testified that, the previous afternoon, a young man driving a light-colored car offered to help her carry some packages into her house. Defendant drove a tan colored Lexus. Further, Andre's snake-skin purse was taken during the home invasion, and a similar purse was later seen in defendant's possession by Stacy Gatlin, Jeff McKee, Markeeta Minor, Ciesha Minor, and Shannon Colvin. Colvin and others helped defendant use credit cards from the purse to purchase gasoline for others in exchange for drugs. Colvin testified that defendant told him that he got the purse by “hitting a lick, ” which means to “take something, rob, or steal from somebody else.” Defendant also told Colvin that “it shouldn't have took me like two or three times to kick in the door, ” and Andre's front door was damaged during the home invasion.
After receiving information that the perpetrator of Andre's attack was frequenting McKee's apartment in a tan or brown Lexus, police began to periodically drive pass McKee's apartment and on one such occasion they observed defendant driving the vehicle in question. Police stopped defendant, at which time he fled on foot. When defendant was apprehended, he had Andre's credit card in his possession as well as a credit card belonging to Cathie Nelson. Police also recovered some of Andre's items in the trash outside of McKee's apartment, and police found additional credit cards belonging to Andre in a sewer, where they had been disposed of by Colvin.
Cathie Nelson testified at trial as a MRE 404(b) witness. She explained that, on September 18, 2013, she was moving some items from her home to a storage unit. Defendant, who was Nelson's neighbor at the time, offered to help her move some items, and Nelson declined. Later that day, someone kicked in the sliding doors to Nelson's home and stole items from her house, including credit cards. The prosecution also presented other acts evidence from Joan Schroeder, who testified that, in 2003, when she was approximately 63 years old, she was awakened in her home by a loud noise. Schroeder went to investigate the noise, at which time she was grabbed on the arms by defendant and pushed backwards toward the bed, where defendant then sexually assaulted her. While in her home, defendant told Schroeder that he was attracted to older women.

People v. Chambers, No. 323024, 2015 WL 8538928, *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 10, 2015) (unpublished).

Following his convictions and sentencing, Petitioner filed an appeal of right with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising claims concerning the admission of other acts evidence, the sufficiency of the evidence, and the admission of preliminary examination testimony from unavailable witnesses and a related ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The court denied relief on those claims and affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentences. Id. at pp. 2-8. Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied in a standard order. People v. Chambers, 499 Mich. 970, 880 N.W.2d 552 (2016).

Petitioner subsequently filed a motion for relief from judgment with the state trial court raising claims concerning the admission of the other acts testimony, the trial court's jurisdiction, his actual innocence, the conduct of the prosecutor (malicious prosecution), the great weight of the evidence, and the effectiveness of appellate counsel. The trial court denied the motion for lack of merit. People v. Chambers, No. 14-000265-FC (Kent Cnty. Cir. Ct. June 8, 2017). Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals which was denied for failure to establish that the trial court erred in denying relief from judgment. People v. Chambers, No. 341487 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 9, 2018). Petitioner also filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied for failure to establish entitlement to relief under Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D). People v. Chambers, 503 Mich. 885, 918 N.W.2d 817 (2018).

Petitioner thereafter filed his federal habeas petition raising the following claims:

I. The state trial court violated his due process rights when it allowed the prosecutor to admit propensity evidence.
II. The state court's rejection of his claim of insufficient evidence (for first-degree criminal sexual conduct) was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of Supreme Court law.
III. The state court's rejection of his claim of insufficient evidence (for first-degree home invasion and assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder) was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of Supreme Court law.
IV. The state court violated his right to a fair trial and to confront witnesses by allowing the prosecutor to admit hearsay statements (and trial counsel failed to object).
V. The state court did not have jurisdiction to try and convict him from the improper bindover.
VI. The prosecutor maliciously prosecuted him by not using its resources to uphold justice (and committed misconduct).

Respondent has filed an answer to the habeas petition contending that it should be denied because the first and fourth claims are procedurally defaulted and all of the claims lack merit.

III. Standard of Review

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq., sets forth the standard of review that federal courts must use when considering habeas petitions brought by prisoners challenging their state court convictions. The AEDPA provides in relevant part:

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--
(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 on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. §2254(d) (1996).

“A 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 [that] precedent.' Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003) (per curiam) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)); see also Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002). [T]he ‘unreasonable application' prong of § 2254(d)(1) 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); see also Bell, 535 U.S. at 694. However, [i]n order for a federal court find a state court's application of [Supreme Court] precedent ‘unreasonable,' the state court's decision must have been more than incorrect or erroneous. The state court's application must have been ‘objectively unreasonable.' Wiggins, 539 U.S. at 520-21 (citations omitted); ...

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