Crawford v. Woods, CASE NO. 2:14-CV-13499

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
PartiesDEON CRAWFORD, #691535, Petitioner, v. JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.
Docket NumberCASE NO. 2:14-CV-13499
Decision Date30 January 2020

DEON CRAWFORD, #691535, Petitioner,
JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.

CASE NO. 2:14-CV-13499


January 30, 2020



I. Introduction

This is a habeas case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Michigan prisoner Deon Crawford ("Petitioner") was convicted of second-degree murder, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.317, felonious assault, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.82, felon in possession of a firearm, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.224f, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.227b, following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court in 2012. He was sentenced to 25 to 50 years imprisonment on the murder conviction, time served on the felonious assault and felon in possession convictions, and a consecutive term of five years imprisonment (reduced to two years imprisonment on appeal) on the felony firearm conviction.

In his habeas petition, as amended, Petitioner raises claims concerning the sufficiency and great weight of the evidence, the denial of a state evidentiary hearing and the effectiveness of counsel as to that issue, the prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges, the trial court's ruling on the peremptory challenge issue, the scoring of the

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state sentencing guidelines and the accuracy of the sentencing information, and the effectiveness of appellate counsel. Respondent has filed an answer to the amended habeas petition contending that certain claims are untimely, that certain claims are procedurally defaulted, and that all of the claims lack merit. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court denies the amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The Court also denies a certificate of appealability and denies Petitioner leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

II. Facts and Procedural History

Petitioner's convictions arise from the shooting death of one man and the non-fatal shooting of another man in a residential area in Detroit, Michigan in April, 2011. The Michigan Court of Appeals described the relevant facts, which are presumed correct on habeas review, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009), as follows:

Defendant lost control of a stolen car and crashed into several parked vehicles. He and his passengers, Stacey Harris and Rasheed Washington, fled. Othell Lightfoot, who owned one of the damaged vehicles, his brother David Hicks, Jr., and two companions left their homes to investigate. They encountered and confronted Harris. According to Hicks, defendant and another man approached the group and Lightfoot told Hicks, "I peep gang," which Hicks understood to mean that Lightfoot thought the men were "up to no good." When Lightfoot stepped down from the curb, defendant shot him in the face from a distance of approximately 2-1/2 feet. After defendant shot Lightfoot, the man who was with defendant asked defendant, "Hey, what [ ]ya doin'?" and hit defendant's hand, pushing the gun down. Hicks ran away. Defendant fired three or more shots at Hicks as he ran away. Hicks's foot and calf were injured by the gunfire. At trial, defendant admitted shooting Lightfoot and firing shots at Hicks. The principal issue at trial was whether defendant acted in self-defense. When the police discovered Lightfoot's body, his arm was extended into the waist area of his pants. Defendant testified that he shot Lightfoot because he thought Lightfoot had a weapon, but defendant acknowledged that he did not see one. There was no evidence that either Lightfoot or Hicks was armed with a weapon.

The jury acquitted defendant of first-degree premeditated murder, MCL

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750.316(1)(a), but convicted him of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Lightfoot. Although defendant was charged with assault with intent to commit murder, MCL 750.83, with respect to Hicks, the trial court granted defendant's motion for a directed verdict on that charge and instead instructed the jury on the lesser offense of felonious assault, without objection by defendant. The jury convicted defendant of that offense, as well as felon in possession of a firearm and felony-firearm.

People v. Crawford, No. 310179, 2013 WL 3335105, *1 (Mich. Ct. App. July 2, 2013) (unpublished).

Following his convictions and sentencing, Petitioner filed an appeal of right with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising claims concerning the sufficiency and great weight of the evidence, the trial court's addition of the felonious assault charge, and the validity of his felony firearm sentence. The court denied relief on the first two claims and affirmed Petitioner's convictions, but remanded for correction of his felony firearm sentence from five years to two years imprisonment. Id. at *1-7. Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied in a standard order. People v. Crawford, 495 Mich. 883, 838 N.W.2d 158 (2013).

In 2014, Petitioner filed his initial federal habeas petition raising the same claims presented to the state courts on direct appeal, as well as a motion to hold his habeas petition in abeyance and stay the proceedings so that he could return to the state courts and exhaust additional issues concerning the effectiveness of trial and appellate counsel. The Court granted that motion and stayed the proceedings. Petitioner then returned to the state courts and filed a motion for relief from judgment with the state trial court raising claims concerning the effectiveness of trial counsel, the conduct of the prosecutor, including the use of peremptory challenges in jury selection, the right to an impartial jury and the trial court's denial of a jury transcript request, the scoring of the state sentencing guidelines, and the effectiveness of appellate counsel. The trial court denied relief on those claims

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pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 6.429(C) (as to the guidelines scoring claim only), Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D)(3), and for lack of merit. People v. Crawford, No. 11-09682-01 (Wayne Co. Cir. Ct. May 20, 2015). The trial court also denied Petitioner's motion for an evidentiary hearing on his ineffective assistance of counsel claims. (Order dated Oct. 8, 2015). Petitioner then filed a motion to remand and a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals, which were denied because he "failed to establish that the trial court erred in denying his motion for relief from judgment." People v. Crawford, No. 330353 (Mich. Ct. App. April 28, 2016). Petitioner also filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied because he "failed to meet the burden of establishing entitlement to relief under MCR 6.508(D)." People v. Crawford, 500 Mich. 898, 887 N.W.2d 408 (2016).

Petitioner thereafter moved to reopen this case and proceed on an amended habeas petition. The Court granted that motion and reopened the case. Respondent subsequently filed an answer to the habeas petition, as amended, contending that it should be denied because certain claims are time-barred, certain 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--

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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; 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 to 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); see also Williams, 529 U.S. at 409. The "AEDPA thus imposes a 'highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings,' and 'demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.'" Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (quoting Lindh, 521 U.S. at 333, n. 7); Woodford v. Viscotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (per curiam)).

A state court's determination that a claim lacks merit "precludes federal habeas

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relief so long as...

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