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Mason v. MacLaren

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 30, 2014

LESTER MASON, Petitioner,
v.
DUNCAN MacLAREN, Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER (1) GRANTING RESPONDENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #10), (2) DISMISSING THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (ECF #1), AND (3) GRANTING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY AND PERMISSION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

MATTHEW F. LEITMAN, District Judge.

Lester Mason, ("Petitioner"), an inmate in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ( See the "petition, ") ECF #1.) The petition challenges Petitioner's 1992 convictions in the Wayne County Circuit Court on two counts of second-degree murder, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.317, and one count of commission of a felony with a firearm, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.227b. Petitioner received sentences of 35-to-55 years for the murder offenses and a five-year sentence for the firearm offense. The sentences on the murder convictions were to be served concurrent to one another and consecutive to the sentence on the firearm offense. And, both sentences - for the murder and firearm convictions - were to be served consecutive to Petitioner's sentence for a prior conviction in a separate criminal case.

Respondent Duncan MacLaren ("Respondent") has now moved for summary judgment. Respondent asks the Court to dismiss the petition as barred by the one-year statute of limitations in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Petitioner has filed a response. For the reasons set forth below, the Court agrees with Respondent and dismisses the petition as untimely. The Court will, however, grant a certificate of appealability and permission to appeal in forma pauperis.

I. Procedural History

Following his 1992 conviction and sentence as detailed above, Petitioner filed an appeal of right with the Michigan Court of Appeals, raising claims not pertinent to his current habeas petition. On June 15, 1994, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an unpublished memorandum opinion affirming Petitioner's convictions. See People v. Mason, No. 153978 (Mich. Ct. App. 1994). Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court. On January 31, 1995, the Michigan Supreme Court denied Petitioner's application. People v. Mason, 528 N.W.2d 738 (Mich. 1995) (table).

On August 27, 1998, Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment in the state trial court that also raised claims not relevant to his habeas petition. The trial court denied this motion on December 7, 1998. Petitioner claims that he did not receive the order denying his motion until August 3, 2007.

On December 21, 2007, Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration in the state trial court. The trial court denied the motion on March 19, 2008, on the ground that it was untimely. That court explained that even if Petitioner did not receive its decision denying his motion until August 3, 2007, he still had only fourteen days from that date to file a motion for reconsideration, and he waited until December - long after his fourteen days had expired - to file his motion for reconsideration.

On April 7, 2008, Petitioner filed a complaint for a writ of superintending control in the Michigan Court of Appeals seeking to have the state trial court address his motion for reconsideration. On November 6, 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals denied Petitioner's complaint. See People v. Mason, No. 284760 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008). Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court. On February 26, 2009, the Michigan Supreme Court administratively denied Petitioner's application for failure to pay the partial filing fee as required. See People v. Mason, 760 N.W.2d 502 (Mich. 2009) (table).

Petitioner filed a second motion for relief from judgment in the state trial court on March 7, 2012. In this second motion, Petitioner argued that his sentence was invalid because (1) the judgment of sentence erroneously indicated that his sentences for his 1992 convictions would run consecutively to sentences imposed upon a different man by the same name, instead of consecutive to his sentence for his prior conviction, and (2) the sentencing court erroneously applied the sentencing guidelines. The trial court agreed with the Petitioner that the judgment of sentence incorrectly identified the sentences to which his sentences for his 1992 convictions would run consecutively, but the trial court denied the motion in all other respects. Pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 6.435, a rule allowing for the correction of clerical errors, the trial court entered an amended judgment of sentence that correctly identified the sentences to which Petitioner's sentences on his 1992 convictions would run consecutively (the "Amended Judgment"). In its Opinion and Order explaining the entry of the amended judgment, the trial court emphasized that Petitioner's sentence "shall stay the same" except for the correction of the clerical error. (ECF #12 at Pg. ID 1262.) The Amended Judgment correctly identified the sentence to which Petitioner's sentences for his 1992 convictions would run consecutively.[1]

Petitioner then filed a motion for reconsideration, and the trial court denied that motion on March 1, 2013. On July 9, 2013, Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals. On July 19, 2013, the Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed Petitioner's application pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 6.502(G), preventing appeals from successive motions for relief from judgment. Petitioner applied for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, but on November 25, 2013, the Michigan Supreme Court denied Petitioner's application. See People v. Mason, 839 N.W.2d 454 (Mich. 2013) (table).

Petitioner signed and dated his present habeas petition on February 10, 2014. In the petition, Petitioner argues that the state trial court violated his due process rights when it entered the Amended Judgment. Specifically, Petitioner contends that the trial court failed to correct the presentence investigation report that had been initially prepared in connection with his 1992 sentence. Petitioner says that that report erroneously indicated that he had three prior armed robbery convictions when, in fact, he had only one such prior conviction. Petitioner therefore contends that his sentences - as restated in the Amended Judgment - are based upon inaccurate information and violate the rule in Townsend v. Burke, 334 U.S.736, 741 (1948).

II. Discussion

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), a one-year statute of limitations applies to an application for writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to a judgment of a state court. The one-year limitations period runs from the latest of:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the ...

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