Pratt v. Ludwick

Decision Date31 July 2012
Docket NumberCASE NO. 2:10-CV-10641
PartiesCHRISTOPHER LUKE PRATT, #673261, Petitioner, v. NICK LUDWICK, Respondent.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)

CHRISTOPHER LUKE PRATT, #673261, Petitioner,
v.
NICK LUDWICK, Respondent.

CASE NO. 2:10-CV-10641

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION

Dated: July 31, 2012


HONORABLE GEORGE CARAM STEEH

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY,
AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED ON APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

I. Introduction

Michigan prisoner Christopher Luke Pratt ("Petitioner") has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 asserting that he is being held in violation of his constitutional rights. Petitioner was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.82, interfering with electronic communications causing injury, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.540(5)(b), domestic assault and battery, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.81(2), and unlawful imprisonment, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.349b, following a jury trial in the Calhoun County Circuit Court in 2007. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 15 to 48 months in prison on the assault and interference convictions, 93 days in jail on the domestic violence conviction, and 56 to 180 months in prison on the unlawful imprisonment conviction in 2008.

In his pleadings, Petitioner raises claims concerning the admission of other acts evidence, the failure to disqualify a juror, the denial of motions for mistrial, judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and new trial, and the scoring of the sentencing guidelines. Respondent has filed an answer

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to the petition contending that it should be denied. For the reasons set forth, the Court finds that Petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief on his claims and denies the 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 an assault on his girlfriend, Norrene Parker, at their home in Calhoun County, Michigan on June 24, 2007. The prosecution presented several witnesses at trial. Norrene Parker testified that she was in a relationship with Petitioner for 1½ years before trial. They met in March, 2006 through their sons, Dillon and Luke, and began dating. About a week after their first date, she found Petitioner urinating on her fence and he told her that he was "marking his territory." She began living with Petitioner in June, 2006. Petitioner told her that there was not enough room for her belongings in the house, so her things were put in storage. Petitioner, however, had a "game room" where he kept his hunting gear, guns, and personal items. He did not want anyone in there, got upset if people went in the room, and told people, "Just remember I don't miss when I shoot." Parker testified that she had two cats when she moved in, but Petitioner did not like cats. One cat died within a week of the move from antifreeze poisoning and Petitioner told her that he took the second cat to his uncle's barn, although she never saw the cat when they visited.

Parker testified that Petitioner would sometimes get mad and not speak to her or the children for days at a time. Near the end of July, 2006, Petitioner and his ex-wife were involved in a custody dispute. When Petitioner came home one day, Parker greeted him and hugged him. He responded by saying that he was "not into hugs" anymore and laying down on the couch. He remained on the couch for about a week, taking a leave of absence from work. Parker was home at the same time battling Crohn's disease. Although she was sick, she waited on Petitioner, including sponge-bathing

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him, as he lay on the couch. Petitioner told her that he took medication for panic attacks and said that he never knew when he was "going to go off."

Parker testified that Petitioner first became physically aggressive with her on Memorial Day, 2007. He had been out all night and did not answer her calls, so she called his brother's house looking for him. The next morning, Parker looked in Petitioner's toiletry bag and it had Viagra pills in it. Parker asked Petitioner about them. He said that he would only take Viagra if he had a room for the night with a hot chick, but then denied having the pills or that they were his. The two argued. As she was leaving the house with the boys, Petitioner called her a "fucking bitch" and pushed her out the back door. She stumbled. As she tried to right herself, Petitioner slammed her arm into the door and continued to slam the door.

Parker claimed that Petitioner acted differently when others were around. He would scream at her and her kids on the way to someone's house and then tell them to act like everything was okay. Not knowing how Petitioner would be put Parker on edge. After an explosive episode, Petitioner would apologize, tell Parker he loved her, and say that he could not live without her. Parker accepted the apologies, hoping it would get better, but they argued a lot. At one point, Parker told Petitioner that he should go stay with his mother for a while until they could work things out. Petitioner told Parker it was not in her best interest to leave him. He also told her that they would always be together and that if she left him, he would come find her. On another occasion, Petitioner told Parker that they could not be friends if they were not together because he would hate her as much as he loved her, and that could be bad for her.

Another physical incident occurred in June, 2006 when Parker received court papers. Petitioner did not want Parker to go to court so they argued. Parker was on the front porch when

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Petitioner came home and walked up behind her. He asked her to perform oral sex on him right there on the porch. Parker refused and turned to walk into the house. Petitioner pushed her into the door. Parker told him not to push her. Petitioner shoved her. She went into the dining room. Her son Dillon was in the living room at the time.

Parker also testified about a phone call that occurred the weekend before Thanksgiving. Parker was home cooking when Petitioner came home from work, saying he was working overtime. The phone rang about 10 minutes later. Petitioner answered it, grinning, and told the caller that he did not know who it was and it must be a wrong number. Parker then took the phone and thought the female caller was Petitioner's sister-in-law. She gave the phone to Petitioner who smirked and said that he did not know the caller.

Parker also testified about an incident that occurred at their home during Easter, 2007. Parker's friend Theresa was in town visiting her grandmother. Parker and her children went there for about 1½ hours during the afternoon to visit. When they got home, Parker told Petitioner where she had been and he asked her about their conversations. They got into an argument and Petitioner threw a cell phone at an upstairs wall, embedding key-prints on the wall.

Just prior to Father's Day in June, 2007, Parker received a subpoena from the prosecutor's office. Petitioner told her: "Go ahead and talk. I'll find out what you said and I'll cut your tongue out of your face." A short time later, Trooper Anne Pohlman visited Parker at her home. Petitioner called Parker three times while the trooper was there, asking why she was there. During the summer of 2007, Parker went to Bailey Park where her son played soccer. Petitioner said he wanted to talk to Parker. She wanted to talk there, but he said no they were going for a ride. Parker tried to get the keys out of the ignition. Petitioner elbowed her in the chest and threw her back into the seat. He

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swore at her and sped through town for 20 minutes or more until they were just a few miles from home. Parker tried to calm Petitioner down. He eventually turned around, apologized, and went back to the game like nothing happened.

Petitioner normally texted Parker 15 to 20 times a day. He also forced Parker to have sex after she told him no. On one occasion, when Parker was making breakfast the following morning, Petitioner came up behind her, thanked her, and said, "You acted like you didn't want to but I just thought you were playing hard to get and took it anyway." Parker also testified that Petitioner would often grab her by the arms and say, "just listen to me." She would try to walk around him and he would shake her. When Petitioner was in one of his "quiet moods," he would bump into her really hard. Sometimes when they were arguing and she tried to leave the room, he would pick her up in a bear hug so her feet could not touch the ground. Petitioner also head-butted her on several occasions and once bit her nose while pretending to give her a kiss.

Parker said that her relationship with Petitioner was fraught with problems even before June, 2007. He would not talk to her for weeks and then act as if nothing was wrong. Petitioner was unemployed for certain periods. She did not leave him because she was afraid. Once when she said she was going to leave and began walking away, Petitioner laughed and said: "You see how far you can get to that car before your spine is all over that backyard." Another time, Petitioner sat next to her as she was...

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