Eric Schorling v. Millicent Warren
Per Curiam OPINION: Having determined that a panel opinion of this Court would serve no jurisprudential purpose, we therefore adopt the reasoning of the district court and AFFIRM on the basis of the district court's decision, decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Gilbert S. Merritt, Circuit Judge; Eric L. Clay, Circuit Judge and Jeffrey S. Sutton, Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 12a0126n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
Feb 03, 2012
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
MERRITT, CLAY, and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. Petitioner Eric Schorling appeals the district court’s order denying his
petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth
below, we AFFIRM.
On September 27, 2004, sixteen-year-old Eric Schorling stabbed his sixteen-year-old exgirlfriend, Nichol Lambert, in the back with an eight-inch kitchen knife. Schorling attacked Lambert
at Romeo High School during the middle of a school day and in the presence of several classmates.
The incident punctuated a tumultuous breakup between the couple, which also included bullying and
prior verbal altercations.
Schorling was arraigned on criminal charges of (1) assault with intent to commit murder; (2)
assault with a dangerous weapon; (3) carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent; and (4)
carrying a concealed weapon, in violation of Michigan Compiled Laws §§ 750.83, 750.82, 750.226,
and 750.227, respectively. Prior to trial, the prosecutor moved to dismiss the second count, and midtrial, Schorling pleaded guilty to the third and fourth counts. Thus, the sole question left for the
jury’s deliberation was whether Schorling possessed the requisite intent to be found guilty on the
assault with intent to murder charge. Schorling’s defense was that he did not intend to kill Lambert
when he stabbed her and that he was therefore only guilty of assault with intent to do great bodily
The jury was not convinced. Following a three-day trial, Schorling was convicted of assault
with intent to murder. The trial judge sentenced Schorling to concurrent terms of ten to fifteen years
imprisonment on the assault count and one to five years on each of the weapons offenses.
The sole question certified for our review is whether the Michigan Court of Appeals’ ruling
was contrary to, or an unreasonable application of clearly-established federal law, when the court
concluded that Michigan’s bar against diminished capacity defenses did not deny Schorling his due
process right to present a complete defense.
At trial, Schorling sought to introduce the testimony of his counselor and of an expert in teen
bullying. The counselor would have testified that Schorling likely suffered from underdeveloped
frontal lobes, a condition common to teenage brains which encumbers their ability to contemplate
the long-term consequences of their actions. The teen bullying expert would have testified that
Schorling was a victim of sustained bullying, which drove him to attack Lambert—like a domestic
violence victim—as a last resort attempt to stop the abuse. The trial court denied these requests,
citing People v. Carpenter, 627 N.W.2d 276 (Mich. 2001). The trial court found that the proposed
testimony constituted an attempt to bring a diminished capacity defense, which was abolished in
Michigan as a matter of law.
On direct appeal, Schorling argued that Michigan’s rule against diminished capacity defenses
denied him the right to due process. The Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed, concluding that the
state’s bar to such defenses did not deprive Schorling of his constitutional right to present a complete
defense. See People v. Schorling, No. 268026, 2007 WL 2067845, at *3 (Mich. Ct. App. July 19,
2007) (citing People v. Tierney, 703 N.W.2d 204, 221–22 (Mich. Ct. App. 2005)).
Applying the AEDPA’s deferential standard of review, the district court held that the state
court’s ruling was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly-established federal law.
Schorling v. Warren, No. 2:08-CV-13261, 2010 WL 2595328, at *7 (E.D. Mich. June 24, 2010).
After thoroughly reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and the applicable law, we
conclude that the district court correctly decided the issue in a well-written opinion. We cannot grant
federal habeas relief, because the right to present a diminished capacity defense has never been
recognized by clearly-established federal law. See Wong v. Money, 142 F.3d 313, 324 (6th Cir.
1998). Although Schorling was entitled to a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense,
that right was vindicated when he was allowed to support his defense theories by way of lay
testimony. Id. at 325.
Having determined that a panel opinion of this Court would serve no jurisprudential purpose,
we therefore adopt the reasoning of the district court and AFFIRM on the basis of the district court’s
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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