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Stallworth v. Harry

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

April 10, 2015

FRANK STALLWORTH, #129592, Petitioner,
v.
SHIRLEE HARRY, Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

NANCY G. EDMUNDS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Michigan prisoner Frank Stallworth ("Petitioner") has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his state court conviction. Petitioner pleaded no contest to arson of a dwelling house, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.72, in the Wayne County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 5 to 20 years imprisonment in 2012. In his pleadings, he raises claims concerning his state and federal speedy trial rights, the effectiveness of defense counsel, and pre-arraignment delay. Respondent has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should be denied. For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that Petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief and denies the petition. The Court also denies a certificate of appealability and denies leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Petitioner's conviction arises from his arson of a home occupied by four people, one of whom was his ex-girlfriend, in Detroit, Michigan on May 12, 2011. Petitioner pleaded no contest to the arson of dwelling house charge on April 10, 2012. In exchange for the plea, the prosecution agreed to drop a fourth habitual sentencing enhancement and agreed to a sentence of 5 to 20 years imprisonment. At the plea hearing, the trial court advised Petitioner of the charges and possible penalties, the rights that he would be giving up by pleading no contest, and the terms of the plea agreement. Petitioner confirmed that he understood those matters and that he was pleading guilty of his own free will. The parties also agreed to a factual basis for the plea. The trial court accepted the plea.

On April 24, 2012, the trial court conducted a sentencing hearing. At that hearing, defense counsel discussed the delay in arraignment issue and requested that Petitioner be given an extra 93 days of sentencing credit. Defense counsel also discussed Petitioner's belief that there was a 180-day rule and/or speedy trial violation. Counsel said that he researched the issue and believed that those issues lacked merit and were waived by Petitioner's plea. Defense counsel also acknowledged Petitioner's belief that he did not receive the effective assistance of counsel as to those same issues. Neither counsel nor Petitioner moved for plea withdrawal. The trial court remarked that defense counsel did "a heck of a job" for Petitioner in negotiating his plea deal and agreed to follow the sentencing agreement. The trial court imposed a sentence of 5 to 20 years imprisonment with the extra 93 days of credit as requested by defense counsel.

Following his plea and sentencing, Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising a state and federal speedy trial claim and an ineffective assistance of defense counsel claim. The court denied the application "for lack of merit in the grounds presented." People v. Stallworth, No. 311109 (Mich. Ct. App. Aug. 1, 2012) (unpublished). Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court raising the same claims, as well as a pre-arraignment delay claim. The court denied leave to appeal in a standard order. People v. Stallworth, 493 Mich. 938, 829 N.W.2d 595 (2013).

Petitioner thereafter filed his federal habeas petition raising the following claims as grounds for relief:

I. 180 Day Rule Violation-Right to a Speedy Trial (US Const. Am VI; 1963, Art 1 § 20; MCL 780.131; MSA 28.969(1).
II. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a dispositive motion. In violation of [the] 6th Am.
III. Petitioner was prejudiced by the unnecessary delay before arraignment is a violation of U.S. Const. 4th Amend.

Respondent has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should be denied because the third claim is unexhausted and all three of the claims are waived by Petitioner's no contest plea and/or lack merit.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), codified 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq., provides the standard of review for federal habeas cases brought by state ...


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