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Hogans v. Smith

United States District Court, Western District of Michigan, Southern Division

March 6, 2015

WILLIE SMITH, Respondent.



The Court has reviewed Magistrate Judge Brenneman’s Report and Recommendation (docket # 4) and Petitioner’s Objections to Report and Recommendation (docket # 5). Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, where, as here, a party has objected to portions of a Report and Recommendation, “[t]he district judge . . . has a duty to reject the magistrate judge’s recommendation unless, on de novo reconsideration, he or she finds it justified.” 12 Wright, Miller, & Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3070.2, at 381 (2d ed. 1997). Specifically, the Rules provide that:

The district judge to whom the case is assigned shall make a de novo determination upon the record, or after additional evidence, of any portion of the magistrate judge's disposition to which specific written objection has been made in accordance with this rule. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended decision, receive further evidence, or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.

Fed R. Civ. P. 72(b). De novo review in these circumstances requires at least a review of the evidence before the Magistrate Judge. Hill v. Duriron Co., 656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). The Court has reviewed de novo the claims and evidence presented to the Magistrate Judge; the Report and Recommendation itself; and Petitioner's objections. After its review, the Court finds that Magistrate Judge correctly concluded that Petitioner’s petition is barred by the one-year statute of limitations.

Petitioner’s objections reiterate and expand arguments Petitioner made in his original petition and which the Magistrate Judge addressed in the Report and Recommendation. Petitioner’s objections fail to deal in a persuasive way with the Magistrate Judge’s analysis. The attachments to the objections, which Petitioner says illustrate his diligence in seeking trial transcripts, still date back to 1996 and 1991 and do not help his claim for equitable tolling. The Magistrate Judge carefully and thoroughly considered the record, Petitioner’s arguments, and the governing law. The Magistrate Judge properly analyzed the issues presented. Nothing in Petitioner’s Objections changes the fundamental analysis the Magistrate Judge delineates. The petition is time-barred, for precisely the reasons the Report and Recommendation describes.

The Court concludes that the Magistrate Judge properly determined that Petitioner is not entitled to federal habeas relief.

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), a petitioner may not appeal in a habeas corpus case unless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1). The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure extend to district judges the authority to issue certificates of appealability. Fed. R. App. P. 22(b); see also, Castro v. United States, 310 F.3d 900, 901-02 (6th Cir. 2002) (the district judge “must issue or deny a [certificate of appealability] if an applicant files a notice of appeal pursuant to the explicit requirements of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 22(b)(1)”). However, a certificate of appealability 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).

To obtain a certificate of appealability, Petitioner must demonstrate that “reasonable jurists would find the district court’s assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong.” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 338 (2003) (quoting Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)). While Petitioner is not required to establish that “some jurists would grant the petition for habeas corpus, ” he “must prove ‘something more than an absence of frivolity’ or the existence of mere ‘good faith.’” Id. (quoting Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 893 (1983)). In this case, Petitioner has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. Therefore, he is not entitled to a certificate of appealability.

The Magistrate Judge properly concluded that Petitioner is not entitled to the habeas corpus relief he seeks. Petitioner is not entitled to a certificate of appealability. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (docket # 4) is APPROVED AND ADOPTED as the opinion of the Court.


1. Petitioner’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (docket # 1) is DISMISSED; and

2. Petitioner is DENIED a certificate of appealability.

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