Bradford v. Haas
OPINION and ORDER Denying 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Denying Certificate of Appealability. Signed by District Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III. (DPar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 2:16-cv-10798
HON. STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS  AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
Darian Bradford filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. Mr. Bradford is incarcerated at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility in Ionia,
Michigan.1 He challenges his convictions for armed robbery, first-degree home invasion,
delivery/manufacture of less than five kilograms of marijuana, and possession of a firearm
during the commission of a felony, raising the following claims: (1) the evidence presented
by the prosecutor was insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) his
sentence does not comport with applicable law or due process; and (3) defense counsel
was ineffective. Respondent, through the Attorney General's Office, has filed an answer
in opposition to the petition, arguing that Mr. Bradford's claims are meritless. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court denies the petition and denies a certificate of
Mr. Bradford was confined at the Macomb Correctional Facility when he filed his
petition, but was transferred to Ionia in November 2016. ECF 10.
Mr. Bradford's convictions arise from a home invasion and robbery at a home on
Ilene Street in Detroit. Marcus Davis, a ten-year old resident of the home, testified that on
February 15, 2013, he was home with his brother Tyree Stokes, his sister Telease Crooks,
and her children Anya, Kamya, and Jaylyn, when someone knocked on the side door.
Tyree answered the door and a man walked in pointing a gun at Tyree's head. Marcus
ran out the front door and went to a friend's house, where the friend's father called the
police. City of Detroit Police Officer Brandolyn Johnson interviewed Marcus that evening.
She described him as "hysterical and very frantic." ECF 9-5, PgID 307.
Marcie Passalacqua, a City of Detroit Police Officer, was one of the first
responders on the scene. She knocked on the front door, saw it open briefly and then
slam shut. Officer Passalacqua testified that she heard glass breaking upstairs and saw
a .22 caliber handgun come out of the window. Officer Joshua Christian arrived at around
10:00 p.m. and approached the side door, where he heard someone call for help. He
entered the unlocked door and saw a woman and children lying on the floor. He testified
that the woman told him "they're upstairs." ECF 9-2, PgID 179. He heard glass breaking
on his way upstairs and saw two men standing "unnaturally close to [a] broken window."
ECF 9-5, PgID 324–25. Officer Christian collected three .30 caliber rounds from Mr.
Bradford's right jacket pocket. Officer Kevin Chub testified that Mr. Bradford had a
backpack containing baggies of marijuana, a silver ring with 38 clear stones, $207 in cash,
and four social security cards.
Officer Jeremy Johnson, Christian's partner, heard glass shattering on the side of
the house and saw a man trying to jump out of the window. At trial, he identified that man
as the co-defendant and identified Mr. Bradford as the other suspect.
Tyree Stokes and Telease Crooks also testified to their experiences in the home.
Tyree described being held at gunpoint while a taller man and a shorter man rummaged
through his things and took his PlayStation. Telease described seeing the taller man go
through her purse and then walk upstairs. They testified that both men had guns and ran
upstairs when they saw police sirens.
Mr. Bradford testified in his own defense. The Michigan Court of Appeals
accurately summarized his testimony as follows:
He testified that he went to the victims' house to purchase marijuana and
that Telease invited him into the house. He denied being associated with
defendant Bowman, and claimed that Bowman was already at the house
when he arrived. He claimed that he and Telease got into an argument over
the price of the marijuana, during which one of the children left the house
and summoned the police. When the police arrived, he went upstairs
because he was scared. He denied participating in any robbery, possessing
a gun, or taking any property that did not belong to him. He claimed that the
police "planted" evidence on him at the time of his arrest.
People v. Bowman, No. 318868, 2015 WL 302761, at *2 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 22, 2015).
Mr. Bradford was tried with co-defendant Dwayne Todd Bowman. Following the
two-day bench trial, the Court convicted both defendants of two counts of armed robbery,
one count each of first-degree home invasion, and one count each of possession of a
firearm during the commission of a felony. Mr. Bradford was also convicted of possession
with intent to deliver marijuana. The Court sentenced Petitioner to 15 to 30 years
imprisonment for his armed-robbery convictions, 10 to 20 years for his home invasion
conviction, 1 to 4 years for his marijuana conviction, and a consecutive 2-year prison term
for the felony-firearm conviction.
Mr. Bradford filed an appeal of right in the Michigan Court of Appeals, arguing that
(1) the evidence presented by the prosecutor was insufficient to establish guilt; (2) his
sentence did not comport with the law or due process; and (3) he was denied effective
assistance of counsel because trial counsel was not prepared. The Michigan Court of
Appeals affirmed the conviction. Bowman, 2015 WL 302761. Mr. Bradford filed an
application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claims
raised in the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to
appeal. People v. Bradford, 498 Mich. 873 (2015). Petitioner then filed the instant petition
for habeas relief, raising the same claims presented to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
The petitioner's claims are reviewed against the standards established by the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat.
1214 ("AEDPA"). AEDPA 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 –
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
resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the
State court proceedings.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
"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 [the] precedent.'" Mitchell v. Esparza,
540 U.S. 12, 15–16 (2003) (per curiam) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405–
06 (2000)). "[T]he 'unreasonable application' prong of [the statute] permits a federal
habeas court to 'grant the writ 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 petitioner's case." Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003) (quoting
Williams, 529 U.S. at 413)). 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. "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)
(citing Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)).
Section 2254(d)(1) limits a federal habeas court's review to a determination of
whether the state court's decision comports with clearly established federal law as
determined by the Supreme Court at the time the state court renders its decision. See
Williams, 529 U.S. at 412. Section 2254(d) "does not require citation of [Supreme Court]
cases—indeed, it does not even require awareness of [Supreme Court] cases, so long as
neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts them." Early v.
Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002). "[W]hile the principles of 'clearly established law' are to be
determined solely by resort to Supreme Court rulings, the decisions of lower federal
courts may be instructive in assessing the reasonableness of a state court's resolution of
an issue." Stewart v. Erwin, 503 F.3d 488, 493 (6th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted).
Lastly, a federal habeas court must presume the correctness of state court factual
determinations. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). A petitioner may rebut this presumption only
with clear and convincing evidence. Warren v. Smith, 161 F.3d 358, 360–61 (6th Cir.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Mr. Bradford first asserts that he is entitled to habeas relief because the trial court
had insufficient evidence to convict him on the charges of armed robbery and home
invasion. Specifically, he argues that his testimony demonstrates that he was not
associated with Mr. Bowman, the co-defendant, and was merely in the house to complete
a drug transaction with Telease Crooks. Respondent contends that the Michigan Court of
Appeals reasonably rejected this claim because there is sufficient evidence to support the
"The Constitution prohibits the criminal conviction of any person except upon proof
of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 309 (1979). The
question on a sufficiency of the evidence claim is "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." Id. at 319 (emphasis
omitted). A federal 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).
Under AEDPA, challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence must survive "two
layers of deference to groups who might view facts differently" than the habeas court—
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). "A
reviewing court does not reweigh the evidence or redetermine the credibility of the
witnesses whose demeanor has been observed by the trial court." Matthews v.
Abramajtys, 319 F.3d 780, 788 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Marshall v. Lonberger, 459 U.S.
422, 434 (1983)). "A reviewing court may set aside the jury's verdict on the ground of
insufficient evidence only if no rational trier of fact could have agreed with the jury."
Cavazos v. Smith, 565 U.S. 1, 2 (2011). Accordingly, the "mere existence of sufficient
evidence to convict . . . defeats a petitioner's claim." Matthews, 319 F.3d at 788–89.
The Michigan Court of Appeals denied relief on this claim, concluding that the
evidence was sufficient to support Mr. Bradford's convictions. The Court of Appeals set
out the elements of armed robbery as follows:
In order to establish the elements of armed robbery, MCL 750.529, the
prosecutor must prove that:
(1) the defendant, in the course of committing a larceny of any money or
other property that may be the subject of a larceny, used force or violence
against any person who was present or assaulted or put the person in fear,
and (2) the defendant, in the course of committing the larceny, either
possessed a dangerous weapon, possessed an article used or fashioned in
a manner to lead any person present to reasonably believe that the article
was a dangerous weapon, or represented orally or otherwise that he or she
was in possession of a dangerous weapon.
Bowman, 2015 WL 302761 at *2. The Court reasoned that, despite Mr. Bradford's
testimony that he was not associated with the co-defendant and was merely in the house
for a drug transaction with Ms. Stokes, the remainder of the evidence:
[A]llowed the trial court to infer that defendant Bowman was the shorter man
who pointed the gun at the older child, verbally threatened him, and took
the PlayStation unit, and that defendant Bradford was the taller gunman
who went upstairs. Defendant Bradford's possession of $207 and the social
security cards belonging to Telease and her children also allowed the court
to infer that he was the gunman who took these items from Telease's purse.
Although both defendants maintain that their purported attempt to escape
through a broken bedroom window is not evidence of guilt, the trial court
was permitted to infer from this evidence that the defendants were
attempting to flee the house and evade the police because of their
consciousness of guilt.
The Court of Appeals' dispensation of this issue is reasonable. Mr. Bradford
challenges the inferences the trial court drew from the testimony presented at trial.
However, it is the job of the fact-finder at trial, not a federal habeas court, to resolve
evidentiary conflicts. Jackson, 443 U.S. at 326. The trial court's verdict was reasonable.
The evidence presented at trial, viewed in light most favorable to the prosecution,
established beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Bradford committed armed robbery.
Specifically, multiple victims testified to seeing two men arrive in the house with guns and
partially covered faces. Telease Crooks testified that both men went through her purse
and the shorter man took her brother's PlayStation. When police arrived, the codefendants were in an upstairs bedroom near a broken window. Mr. Bradford was found
with the social security cards from Telease's purse and Mr. Bowman with the PlayStation.
In sum, a rational trier of fact could agree with the verdict in this matter and therefore this
court may not set it aside.
The Court of Appeals further explained that the evidence was sufficient to support
that each defendant committed armed robbery while in the house, in addition to
supporting an aiding and abetting theory. The elements of aiding and abetting are:
"(1) the crime charged was committed by the defendant or some other
person; (2) the defendant performed acts or gave encouragement that
assisted the commission of the crime; and (3) the defendant intended the
commission of the crime or had knowledge that the principal intended its
commission at the time that [the defendant] gave aid and encouragement."
People v. Moore, 470 Mich. 56, 67–68 (2004) (quoting People v. Carines, 460 Mich. 750,
768 (1999)). When viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, sufficient
evidence supported this conviction. As explained by the Court of Appeals, the "testimony
established that defendants spoke to each other in the home and that they acted in
concert while they were inside the home," and ran upstairs together when the police
arrived. Bowman, 2015 WL 302761 at *4. The Court of Appeals' analysis and holding are
reasonable, therefore habeas relief is not warranted on this claim.
Michigan's home invasion statute provides, in relevant part:
(2) A person who breaks and enters a dwelling with intent to commit a
felony, larceny, or assault in the dwelling, a person who enters a dwelling
without permission with intent to commit a felony, larceny, or assault in the
dwelling, or a person who breaks and enters a dwelling or enters a dwelling
without permission and, at any time while he or she is entering, present in,
or exiting the dwelling, commits a felony, larceny, or assault is guilty of
home invasion in the first degree if at any time while the person is entering,
present in, or exiting the dwelling either of the following circumstances
(a) The person is armed with a dangerous weapon.
(b) Another person is lawfully present in the dwelling.
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a (2). The Michigan Court of Appeals concluded that there
was sufficient evidence to convict Mr. Bradford of home invasion, reasoning that the
victim's testimony established all of the required elements above. Specifically, the fact
that one of the men put a pistol to Tyree's head and entered the home without permission
established that they entered the dwelling without permission. The testimony that the men
threatened the occupants of the home, took the PlayStation, and took items from
Telease's purse was sufficient to demonstrate that the men entered with intent to commit
robbery and actually committed the robbery. Finally, "in light of the testimony that both
men were armed with guns and that Telease, her brother, and Telease's children were all
lawfully present in the dwelling when the gunmen entered, the evidence was sufficient to
prove both alternative prongs of the third element of first-degree home invasion[.]"
Bowman, 2015 WL 302761 at *5.
The evidence presented at trial is sufficient to allow a reasonable fact finder to find
Mr. Bradford guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Again, Petitioner seems to take issue with
the trial court's weighing of the testimony, but this Court must defer to the trial court's
credibility determination. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). As such, Mr. Bradford is not entitled
to habeas relief on this claim.2
Mr. Bradford argues that the trial court erred in assessing ten points for offense
variable ("OV") 4, serious psychological injury to a victim. Ten points is appropriate if
"serious psychological injury requiring professional treatment occurred to a victim." Mich.
On April 17, 2017, Mr. Bradford filed a request for an evidentiary hearing, asserting his
innocence. ECF 11. Based on the foregoing, this request is also denied.
Comp. Laws § 777.34(1)(a). Mr. Bradford contends that there is nothing in the record to
prove that the victims suffered serious psychological injury requiring professional
This claim is not cognizable on federal habeas review because it is based solely
on state law. See McPhail v. Renico, 412 F. Supp. 2d 647, 656 (E.D. Mich. 2006). "A
federal court may not issue the writ on the basis of a perceived error of state law." Pulley
v. Harris, 465 U.S. 37, 41 (1984). Therefore, a claim that the trial court misscored offense
variables in determining the state sentencing guidelines is non-cognizable on habeas
corpus review. See Howard v. White, 76 F. App'x 52, 53 (6th Cir. 2003).
Mr. Bradford also asserts that his sentence violates federal due process as a result
of the scoring error. A sentence may violate federal due process if it is carelessly or
deliberately pronounced on an extensive and materially false foundation which the
defendant had no opportunity to correct. Townsend v. Burke, 334 U.S. 736, 741 (1948);
see also United States v. Tucker, 404 U.S. 443, 447 (1972); United States v. Sammons,
918 F.2d 592, 603 (6th Cir. 1990). To prevail on such a claim, a petitioner must show that
the court relied upon the allegedly false information. United States v. Polselli, 747 F.2d
356, 358 (6th Cir. 1984). Mr. Bradford makes no such showing here. The record reveals
that he had a sentencing hearing before the state trial court with an opportunity to
challenge the scoring of the guidelines. In fact, defense counsel contested the scoring of
OV 4. Mr. Bradford also presented his sentencing issues to the state appellate courts and
was denied relief. Petitioner fails to establish that the trial court relied upon materially
false or inaccurate information in imposing his sentences which he had no opportunity to
correct. Consequently, no due process violation occurred and habeas relief is not
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
To establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, a petitioner must
show, first, that counsel's performance was deficient and, second, that counsel's deficient
performance prejudiced the petitioner. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687
(1984). A petitioner may show that counsel's performance was deficient by establishing
that counsel's performance was "outside the wide range of professionally competent
assistance." Id. at 690. This "requires showing that counsel made errors so serious that
counsel was not functioning as the 'counsel' guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment." Id. at
To satisfy the prejudice prong, a petitioner must show that "there is a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would
have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine
confidence in the outcome." Id. at 694. A court's review of counsel's performance must
be "highly deferential." Id. at 689. Habeas relief may be granted only if the state-court
decision unreasonably applied the standard for evaluating ineffective assistance of
counsel claims established by Strickland. Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111, 122–23
Here, Mr. Bradford argues that his trial attorney was ineffective because he was
unprepared for trial. He points to counsel's following statement, made during the
sentencing hearing, as evidence that counsel was unfamiliar with the record to such an
extent that his representation was ineffective:
What is unfortunate in this case is that he was diagnosed with ADHD. I don't
know what that would have meant in terms of proceeding with this case, but
it may have caused me to take a different action with regard to his testifying,
if the Court pleases.
ECF 9-7, PgID 477–78. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied relief on this claim,
explaining in relevant part:
The failure to conduct a reasonable investigation can constitute ineffective
assistance of counsel. People v. McGhee, 268 Mich. App 600, 626; 709
NW2d 595 (2005). However, inadequate investigation or preparation alone
does not establish ineffective assistance of counsel. People v. Caballero,
184 Mich. App 636, 642; 459 NW2d 80 (1990). A defendant must also show
that counsel's inadequate preparation resulted in counsel's ignorance of
valuable evidence which would have substantially benefited the defendant.
The existing record does not support defendant Bradford's contention that
his trial counsel failed to conduct an adequate investigation. Defendant
Bradford has offered nothing, beyond his unsupported assertions, indicating
that trial counsel's performance was objectively unreasonable for counsel's
alleged failure to discover defendant Bradford's ADHD. On this record,
defendant Bradford has not established that his trial counsel performed an
inadequate or otherwise deficient investigation. Thus, he cannot overcome
the presumption that trial counsel's performance was objectively
reasonable. Further, defendant Bradford offers nothing, beyond his bald,
sweeping assertions, to suggest that counsel's knowledge of his ADHD
could have been beneficial at trial. Indeed, defendant Bradford summarily
asserts that counsel's alleged ignorance of his ADHD condition "deprived
him of possible defenses that could have changed the outcome of the
[d]efendant's trial," but he does not explain what defenses counsel could
have presented had he been aware of this condition. A defendant bears the
burden of establishing the factual predicate for his ineffective assistance
claim. People v. Hoag, 460 Mich. 1, 6; 594 NW2d 57 (1999). On this record,
defendant Bradford cannot satisfy either prong of his ineffective assistance
of counsel claim.
Bowman, 2015 WL 302761 at *7–8.
The state court's decision is neither contrary to Supreme Court precedent nor an
unreasonable application of federal law or the facts. Well-established federal law requires
that defense counsel conduct a reasonable investigation into the facts of a defendant's
case, or make a reasonable determination that such investigation is unnecessary.
Wiggins, 539 U.S. at 522–23; Strickland, 466 U.S. at 691; Stewart v. Wolfenbarger, 468
F.3d 338, 356 (6th Cir. 2007). The duty to investigate "includes the obligation to
investigate all witnesses who may have information concerning . . . guilt or innocence."
Towns v. Smith, 395 F.3d 251, 258 (6th Cir. 2005). Decisions as to what evidence to
present and whether to call certain witnesses, however, are presumed to be matters of
trial strategy. When making strategic decisions, counsel's conduct must be reasonable.
Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470, 481 (2000).
Here, Mr. Bradford has presented no evidence that counsel's conduct was
unreasonable. He asserts generally that counsel's knowledge of his ADHD could have
created mitigating circumstances or call into question the admissibility of his statements.
This is not sufficient, however, to demonstrate that but for his counsel's lack of
preparation, the result of the proceeding would have been different. Mr. Bradford is not
entitled to habeas relief on this claim.
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 22 provides that an appeal may not proceed
unless a certificate of appealability (COA) is issued under 28 U.S.C. § 2253. Rule 11 of
the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings requires that the Court "must issue or
deny a certificate of appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the applicant."
A COA may be issued "only if the applicant has made a substantial showing of the
denial of a constitutional right." 28 U.S.C. §2253(c)(2). A petitioner must show "that
reasonable jurists could debate whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the petition should
have been resolved in a different manner or that the issues presented were adequate to
deserve encouragement to proceed further." Slack, 529 U.S. at 484 (citation omitted). In
this case, the Court concludes that reasonable jurists would not debate the conclusion
that the petition fails to state a claim upon which habeas corpus relief should be granted.
The Court will therefore deny a certificate of appealability.
WHEREFORE, it is hereby ORDERED that Bradford's Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus  is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a certificate of appealability is DENIED.
This is a final order that closes the case.
s/ Stephen J. Murphy, III
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III
United States District Judge
Dated: November 27, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon the parties
and/or counsel of record on November 27, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
s/David P. Parker
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?