Hill v. Curtin, No. 12–2528.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtGRIFFIN, Circuit Judge.
Citation792 F.3d 670
Decision Date09 July 2015
Docket NumberNo. 12–2528.
PartiesThomas HILL, Petitioner–Appellant, v. Cindi S. CURTIN, Warden, Respondent–Appellee.

792 F.3d 670

Thomas HILL, Petitioner–Appellant
v.
Cindi S. CURTIN, Warden, Respondent–Appellee.

No. 12–2528.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

Argued: Dec. 3, 2014.
Decided and Filed: July 9, 2015.


792 F.3d 674

ARGUED:Daniel S. Volchok, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant. Aaron D. Lindstrom, Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellee. ON BRIEF:Daniel S. Volchok, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.Aaron D. Lindstrom, John S. Pallas, Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellee. Naveen Ramachandrappa, Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore LLP, Atlanta, Georgia, Benjamin W. Snyder, Latham & Watkins LLP, Washington, D.C., for Amici Curiae.

Before: COLE, Chief Judge; BOGGS, BATCHELDER, MOORE, CLAY, GIBBONS, ROGERS, SUTTON, COOK, McKEAGUE, GRIFFIN, KETHLEDGE, WHITE, STRANCH, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.

GRIFFIN, J., delivered the opinion of the court in which BOGGS, BATCHELDER, GIBBONS, ROGERS, SUTTON, COOK, McKEAGUE, and KETHLEDGE, JJ., joined. DONALD, J. (pp. 681–700), delivered a separate dissenting opinion in which COLE, C.J., MOORE, CLAY, WHITE, and STRANCH, JJ., joined.

OPINION

GRIFFIN, Circuit Judge.

Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), Pub.L. No. 104–132, 110 Stat. 1214, effective April 24, 1996. All habeas corpus actions filed thereafter, such as the present petition, are governed by AEDPA's considerable restrictions on federal court review of state court judgments. In this case, the district court ruled that the limitations of AEDPA compelled the denial of the habeas petition. We agree and therefore affirm.

I.

On the first day of Thomas Hill's criminal trial, as potential jurors were “on their way up to the courtroom,” Hill informed the Wayne County (Michigan) Circuit Court that he wanted to represent himself. The state trial judge denied the request as follows:

No. The court is not going to allow that, especially at the last minute. Also, it's not going to be helpful. There is no early indication of this. We are ready to proceed with the trial at this time. To be prepared for that, and to inform the defendant and have him prepared for following the rules of asking questions and rules of evidence, the court is going to have to do that during the trial. So at this point it's not going to work.
You may consult with your attorney. We are going to have you sitting right next to him. If you would like paper and pen to tell him what you would like, how you would like things, you can do that.
We expect and want you to have all the participation you want. We also want you to have a legal representative to follow the rules of the courtroom. So at this time it is denied.

On September 11, 2007, a jury convicted Hill of armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, and carjacking, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529a(1). People v. Hill, 282 Mich.App. 538, 766 N.W.2d 17, 21 (2009). As a third-felony habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.11, the trial court sentenced him to concurrent prison terms of

792 F.3d 675

twenty to forty years for each conviction. See Hill, 766 N.W.2d at 21.

On direct appeal, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Hill's convictions and sentences. Id. at 27. Regarding self-representation, it held that although the lower court failed to comply with People v. Anderson, 398 Mich. 361, 247 N.W.2d 857 (1976) (setting forth self-representation inquiry standards under state law), the record did not support that Hill's request was knowingly and intelligently made. Hill, 766 N.W.2d at 27. In the last reasoned state court decision on the issue, the Michigan Supreme Court affirmed on different grounds. It held that Hill's right to self-representation was not violated because his request was untimely and disruptive. People v. Hill, 485 Mich. 912, 773 N.W.2d 257, 257 (2009). Specifically, it stated:

[T]he ruling of the Wayne Circuit Court denying the request for self-representation “at this time” did not deny the defendant his constitutional right to self-representation where the defendant's request was not timely and granting the request at that moment would have disrupted, unduly inconvenienced, and burdened the administration of the court's business. The trial court also did not foreclose the defendant's opportunity to raise the self-representation issue again after jury selection. The record reflects, however, that the defendant never renewed his untimely request. For this reason, we agree with the Court of Appeals that the defendant's constitutional right to self-representation was not violated.

Id. (citation omitted). The U.S. Supreme Court denied Hill's petition for certiorari. Hill v. Michigan, 559 U.S. 1014, 130 S.Ct. 1899, 176 L.Ed.2d 378 (2010).

Shortly thereafter, Hill filed a timely habeas corpus petition. The magistrate judge issued a report recommending that the district court deny the petition because “[n]o United States Supreme Court case has directly addressed the timing of a request for self representation,” and, in light of clearly established law, the Michigan Supreme Court's application was not unreasonable. The district court adopted the report over Hill's objection, denied the petition, and declined to issue a certificate of appealability.

On appeal, we granted Hill a certificate of appealability on the sole issue of whether his right to self-representation had been violated. A panel of this court subsequently issued an unpublished order reversing the district court and granting the writ. Hill v. Curtin, No. 12–2528, 2013 WL 8446602 (6th Cir. Dec. 23, 2013). Thereafter, we granted Curtin's petition for rehearing en banc and vacated our order. Hill v. Curtin, No. 12–2528, 2014 WL 1923210, at *1 (6th Cir. May 13, 2014).

II.

Congress enacted AEDPA to “reduce delays in the execution of state and federal criminal sentences, particularly in capital cases,” and “to further the principles of comity, finality, and federalism.” Woodford v. Garceau, 538 U.S. 202, 206, 123 S.Ct. 1398, 155 L.Ed.2d 363 (2003). “AEDPA recognizes a foundational principle of our federal system: State courts are adequate forums for the vindication of federal rights.” Burt v. Titlow, ––– U.S. ––––, 134 S.Ct. 10, 15, 187 L.Ed.2d 348 (2013). “ ‘[T]he States possess sovereignty concurrent with that of the Federal Government, subject only to limitations imposed by the Supremacy Clause. Under this system of dual sovereignty, [the Supreme Court has] consistently held that state courts have inherent authority, and are thus presumptively competent, to adjudicate claims arising under the laws of the United States.’ ” Id. (quoting

792 F.3d 676

Tafflin v. Levitt, 493 U.S. 455, 458, 110 S.Ct. 792, 107 L.Ed.2d 887 (1990) ). “This principle applies to claimed violations of constitutional, as well as statutory, rights.” Id. “Recognizing the duty and ability of our state-court colleagues to adjudicate claims of constitutional wrong, AEDPA erects a formidable barrier to federal habeas relief for prisoners whose claims have been adjudicated in state court.” Id. at 15–16, 134 S.Ct. 10. It provides:

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).

A state court adjudication is “contrary to” Supreme Court precedent under § 2254(d)(1) “if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases” or “if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision [of the Supreme Court] and nevertheless arrives at a [different result].” Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 73, 123 S.Ct. 1166, 155 L.Ed.2d 144 (2003) (internal quotation marks omitted). Under the “unreasonable application” clause of § 2254(d)(1), habeas relief is available if “the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme Court's] decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.” Harris v. Haeberlin, 526 F.3d 903, 909 (6th Cir.2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). “In 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,” but rather “must have been ‘objectively unreasonable.’ ” Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520–21, 123 S.Ct. 2527, 156 L.Ed.2d 471 (2003) (citations omitted)....

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  • Cassano v. Bradshaw, Case No. 1:03 CV 1206
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • July 18, 2018
    ...835. If a defendant does not invoke this right in a timely fashion, "it may be deemed forfeited as a threshold matter." Hill v. Curtin, 792 F.3d 670, 677 (6th Cir. 2015). Cassano argues the trial court erred by failing to conduct a "searching or formal" Faretta inquiry after he clearly and ......
  • United States v. Powell, Nos. 14-2506/2507/15-1724
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • February 6, 2017
    ...of the "dangers and disadvantages of self-representation." Faretta , 422 U.S. at 835, 95 S.Ct. 2525 ; see also Hill v. Curtin , 792 F.3d 670, 677–78 (6th Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 593, 193 L.Ed.2d 470 (2015). This court has instructed district judges to "ask t......
  • Lee v. Haas, Case Number: 2:10-CV-12202
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • June 24, 2016
    ...can only be read to require a court to grant a self-representation request when the request occurs weeks before trial." Hill v. Curtin , 792 F.3d 670, 678 (6th Cir.2015). No explanation appears to justify counsel's determination to forego a very strong Faretta claim. And, because the denial......
  • Cassano v. Shoop, No. 18-3761
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • June 17, 2021
    ...in a timely manner," id. , and the right "may be deemed forfeited as a threshold matter" if the defendant fails to do so, Hill v. Curtin , 792 F.3d 670, 677 (6th Cir. 2015) (en banc). But in situations where a defendant clearly, unequivocally, and timely invokes the right to self-representa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
100 cases
  • Cassano v. Bradshaw, Case No. 1:03 CV 1206
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • July 18, 2018
    ...835. If a defendant does not invoke this right in a timely fashion, "it may be deemed forfeited as a threshold matter." Hill v. Curtin, 792 F.3d 670, 677 (6th Cir. 2015). Cassano argues the trial court erred by failing to conduct a "searching or formal" Faretta inquiry after he clearly and ......
  • United States v. Powell, Nos. 14-2506/2507/15-1724
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • February 6, 2017
    ...of the "dangers and disadvantages of self-representation." Faretta , 422 U.S. at 835, 95 S.Ct. 2525 ; see also Hill v. Curtin , 792 F.3d 670, 677–78 (6th Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 593, 193 L.Ed.2d 470 (2015). This court has instructed district judges to "ask t......
  • Lee v. Haas, Case Number: 2:10-CV-12202
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • June 24, 2016
    ...can only be read to require a court to grant a self-representation request when the request occurs weeks before trial." Hill v. Curtin , 792 F.3d 670, 678 (6th Cir.2015). No explanation appears to justify counsel's determination to forego a very strong Faretta claim. And, because the denial......
  • Cassano v. Shoop, No. 18-3761
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • June 17, 2021
    ...in a timely manner," id. , and the right "may be deemed forfeited as a threshold matter" if the defendant fails to do so, Hill v. Curtin , 792 F.3d 670, 677 (6th Cir. 2015) (en banc). But in situations where a defendant clearly, unequivocally, and timely invokes the right to self-representa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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