Poyntz v. Campbell
ORDER Denying 1 PETITION for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Jerry Poyntz, Denying 12 Motion for Evidentiary Hearing by Jerry Poyntz and Denying Certificate of Appealability. Signed by District Judge Sean F. Cox. (JMcC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case Number: 2:15-13536
HONORABLE SEAN F. COX
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
Petitioner Jerry Poyntz seeks habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner
is a state prisoner in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections pursuant to a
conviction for armed robbery. He raises seven claims for habeas relief. Respondent argues
that the claims are procedurally defaulted and/or meritless. The Court denies the petition.
Petitioner’s convictions arise from the robbery of David Skinner in Detroit on May
18, 2011. Skinner testified that he placed an advertisement on Craigslist offering a diamond
ring for sale. On May 17, 2011, he received a telephone call from someone expressing
interest in purchasing the ring. The caller ID indicated that the caller’s name was John West.
Skinner arranged to meet this individual at a home on Clements Street in Detroit the
following day. Skinner testified that he went to a side door of the home as directed and was
attacked by two men with guns. One of the men grabbed Skinner’s briefcase and pistol-
whipped him, the other hit him in the head with bottle. The men took Skinner’s briefcase and
wallet and fled. Police were called. Although he was bleeding from cuts to his head, Skinner
declined to be transported to the hospital because he lacked health insurance. Skinner later
viewed a photo lineup and identified Petitioner as one of the assailants.
David Kokenos testified as a Rule 404(b) witness. He testified that, on May 4, 2011,
he received several phone calls regarding an advertisement for cell phones he had placed on
Craigslist. The phone calls came from the same number as that used to call Skinner.
Kokenos arranged to meet the potential buyer at a grocery store. When he approached the
front entrance of the store, two men approached him and asked to see the phones. One of the
men took a phone and fled without paying for it. Kokenos chased the man, but was unable
to catch him. Kokenos reported the theft to the police, and provided them with the caller ID
information from his telephone. Kokenos later viewed a photographic lineup and identified
Petitioner as the individual who ran away with his phone.
Following a bench trial in Wayne County Circuit court, Petitioner was convicted of
armed robbery. On December 15, 2011, he was sentenced to fifteen to thirty years’
imprisonment. Petitioner filed an appeal of right in the Michigan Court of Appeals, raising
these claims through counsel: (i) insufficient evidence supported conviction; and (ii) offense
variables 8 and 10 were incorrectly scored. He raised these additional claims in a pro
per supplemental brief: (iii) ineffective assistance of counsel; and (iv) impermissibly
suggestive pretrial identification procedure. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed
Petitioner’s conviction. People v. Poyntz, No. 308166, 2013 WL 1165136 (Mich. Ct. App.
March 21, 2013).
Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court,
raising the same claims raised in the Michigan Court of Appeals and a claim that appellate
counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the claims raised in Petitioner’s pro per
supplemental brief. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. People v. Poyntz,
835 N.W.2d 587 (Mich. 2013).
Petitioner then filed a motion for relief from judgment in the trial court. He raised
claims concerning the sufficiency of the evidence, counsel’s performance, the pretrial
identification procedures, police misconduct, and actual innocence. The trial court denied
the motion. People v. Poyntz, No. 11-006867-01-FC (Wayne County Cir. Ct. March 10,
2014) (ECF No. 10-8). The Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court each
denied Petitioner leave to appeal the trial court’s decision. People v. Poyntz, No. 321142
(Mich. Ct. App. June 16, 2014) (ECF No. 10-11); People v. Poyntz, 860 N.W.2d 627 (Mich.
Petitioner then filed the pending habeas petition. He raises these claims:1
Petitioner’s conviction should be reversed because the evidence presented in
the bench trial failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Respondent argues that the petition raises only the four claims raised on direct review in
state court. Respondent is correct that Petitioner lists only four claims for relief on the form
habeas corpus petition. But he also indicates “see attached briefs” and attaches the briefs filed
both on direct and collateral review. “‘[A]llegations of a pro se habeas petition ... are entitled to
a liberal construction.’” Porter v. Genovese, __ F. App’x __, 2017 WL 167469, *11 (6th Cir.
2017), quoting Franklin v. Rose, 765 F.2d 82, 85 (6th Cir. 1985). Construing the petition
liberally, the Court finds that Petitioner raises the claims raised on direct and collateral review in
The trial court made scoring errors in OV 8 and 10. Because correction of
either of these offense variables would change the sentence guideline range,
Petitioner must be resentenced.
Petitioner was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel
when counsel was appointed just prior to the preliminary examination, when
counsel failed to challenge an improper and tainted identification, investigate
the charge/case, failed to call and/or interview alibi witnesses and was absent
at a critical stage of the preliminary examination.
Petitioner was denied his constitutional right to a fair and impartial trial by the
admission of an unduly suggestive and improper identification and counsel’s
failure to object is unreasonable.
Petitioner contends that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise
the issue of ineffective assistance of trial counsel.
Petitioner argues that there was police/prosecutorial misconduct because
Detective Brown withheld the fact that he spoke with alibi witness Racquel
Hamilton during the interrogation and she informed him that Petitioner was
with him on the day and time of the incident.
Petitioner argues that he is in fact innocent.
Review of this case is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
of 1996 (“AEDPA”). Under the AEDPA, a state prisoner is entitled to a writ of habeas
corpus only if he can show that the state court’s adjudication of his claims –
(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 decision of a state court is “contrary to” clearly established federal law if the state
court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of
law or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000). An
“unreasonable application” occurs when “a state court decision unreasonably applies the law
of [the Supreme Court] to the facts of a prisoner's case.” Id. at 408. “[A] federal habeas
court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment
that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or
incorrectly.” Id. at 411.
The Supreme Court has explained that “[a] federal court’s collateral review of a
state-court decision must be consistent with the respect due state courts in our federal
system.” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003). 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 v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333 n. 7 (1997); Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19,
24 (2002) (per curiam)). “[A] state court’s determination that a claim lacks merit precludes
federal habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded jurists could disagree’ on the correctness of the
state court’s decision.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011). The Supreme Court
has emphasized “that even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary
conclusion was unreasonable.” Id. at 102. Furthermore, pursuant to § 2254(d), “a habeas
court must determine what arguments or theories supported or ... could have supported, the
state court's decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could
disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior decision
of th[e Supreme] Court.” Id.
Although 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the AEDPA, does not completely bar
federal courts from relitigating claims that have previously been rejected in the state courts,
it preserves the authority for a federal court to grant habeas relief only “in cases where there
is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court’s decision conflicts
with” Supreme Court precedent. Id. Indeed, “Section 2254(d) reflects the view that habeas
corpus is a ‘guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems,’ not a
substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal.” Id. (quoting Jackson v. Virginia,
443 U.S. 307, 332 n. 5 (1979)) (Stevens, J., concurring)). Therefore, in order to obtain
habeas relief in federal court, a state prisoner is required to show that the state court’s
rejection of his claim “was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood
and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.” Id.
at 103, 131 S. Ct. at 786–87.
Additionally, a state court’s factual determinations are entitled to a presumption of
correctness on federal habeas review. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). A petitioner may rebut
this presumption with clear and convincing evidence. See Warren v. Smith, 161 F.3d 358,
360-61 (6th Cir. 1998). Moreover, habeas review is “limited to the record that was before
the state court.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011).
A. Motion for Evidentiary Hearing
Petitioner seeks an evidentiary hearing to develop evidence related to his ineffective
assistance of counsel claims.
Federal habeas review under 28 U.S.C. §2254(d) is “limited to the record that was
before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563
U.S. 170, 180 (2011). “[R]eview under § 2254(d)(1) focuses on what a state court knew and
did.” Id. at 182. The Court reasoned that “[i]t would be strange to ask federal courts to
analyze whether a state court’s adjudication resulted in a decision that unreasonably applied
federal law to facts not before the state court.” Id. at 182-83. “[D]istrict courts are precluded
from conducting evidentiary hearings to supplement existing state court records when a state
court has issued a decision on the merits with respect to the claim at issue.” Ballinger v.
Prelesnik, 709 F.3d 558, 561 (6th Cir. 2013). Petitioner’s ineffective assistance of counsel
claims were decided on the merits by the state court. Therefore, the Court must decide these
claim based upon the existing record. The motion will be denied.
B. Claim One: Sufficiency of the Evidence
Petitioner claims that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because the prosecution
presented insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction for armed robbery on the ground that
prosecution did not establish his identity as the robber. The Michigan Court of Appeals
rejected this claim:
It is undisputed that an armed robbery occurred; at issue is whether defendant
was one of the perpetrators. After reviewing the record as a whole, it is
apparent that there was more than sufficient evidence for a rational trier of fact
to conclude that defendant was one of the perpetrators who committed the
armed robbery. Davis, 241 Mich. App at 700. A few weeks after the robbery
occurred, the complainant picked defendant out of a photographic line-up
without hesitation. At trial, the complainant also confidently identified
defendant as the perpetrator. The complainant testified that during the robbery
he was inches away from defendant and that he could clearly see defendant’s
face. The trier of fact also reviewed and compared the physical description the
complainant gave of the perpetrator to an officer investigating the robbery with
that of defendant’s actual physical characteristics and found the description to
be “pretty consistent” with defendant’s appearance. Defendant, however,
argues that there was insufficient identification evidence because there were
“several critical inconsistencies” in the complainant’s testimony that
undermined his identification of defendant as the perpetrator. Indeed, there
were a few inconsistencies between the statements the complainant provided
to the responding officers and the statements the complainant provided to the
police a few weeks after the robbery. Specifically, the complainant provided
differing details regarding the commencement of the robbery and the weapons
used during the armed robbery. In spite of these inconsistencies, however, the
trier of fact was free to conclude that the complainant’s identification of
defendant was credible. People v. Fletcher, 260 Mich. App 531, 561-562; 679
N.W.2d 127 (2004). The trier of fact reviewed these inconsistencies within the
context of the evidence presented and found the complainant’s testimony and
identification to be both “sincere” and “accurate.” “This Court will not
interfere with the [trier of fact’s] role of determining the weight of the
evidence or deciding the credibility of the witnesses,” id. at 561, and the
credibility of identification evidence is a matter specifically for the trier of fact
to decide, Davis, 241 Mich.App at 700. Considering this identification
evidence coupled with the admitted MRE 404(b) evidence identifying
defendant as the perpetrator in a similar Craigslist robbery, the prosecution
provided sufficient evidence for a rational trier of fact to find that defendant
committed armed robbery.
Poyntz, 2013 WL 1165136 at *1.
The Due Process Clause “protects the accused against conviction except upon proof
beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is
charged.” In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 364 (1970). On direct review, review of a sufficiency
of the evidence challenge focuses on whether “after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements
of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979)
(emphasis in original). A federal habeas court views this standard through the framework
of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Martin v. Mitchell, 280 F.3d 594, 617 (6th Cir. 2002). In the habeas
context, a sufficiency of the evidence claim “must survive two layers of deference to groups
who might view facts differently” than a reviewing court on habeas review – the factfinder
at trial and the state court on appellate review – as long as those determinations are
reasonable. Brown v. Konteh, 567 F.3d 191, 205 (6th Cir. 2009). For a federal habeas court
reviewing a state court conviction, “the only question under Jackson is whether that finding
was so insupportable as to fall below the threshold of bare rationality.” Coleman v. Johnson,
566 U.S. 650, —, 132 S.Ct. 2060, 2065 (2012).
In considering a sufficiency of the evidence claim on habeas review, this Court must
not “‘reweigh the evidence, re-evaluate the credibility of witnesses, or substitute [its]
judgment for that of the jury.’” Nali v. Phillips, 681 F.3d 837, 842 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Johnson v. Mitchell, 585 F.3d 923, 931 (6th Cir. 2009)). The Court presumes the correctness
of the facts relied upon by the Michigan Court of Appeals; Petitioner has not rebutted that
presumption. The evidence establishing Petitioner’s identity as one of the robbers was more
than sufficient to sustain the conviction. Habeas relief is denied on this claim.
C. Claim Two: Scoring of Offense Variables
Petitioner’s second claim for habeas corpus relief concerns the scoring of offense
variables 8 and 10. Respondent contends that this claim is not cognizable on habeas review
and/or lacks merit.
It is well-established that “
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?