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Goree v. Mackie

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

October 3, 2016

QUINTON M. GOREE, Petitioner,
v.
THOMAS MACKIE, Respondent.

          OPINION

          Janet T. Neff United States District Judge

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether “it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to “screen out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court concludes that the petition must be dismissed because it fails to raise a meritorious federal claim.

         Factual Allegations and Procedural Background

         Petitioner Quinton M. Goree presently is incarcerated at the Oaks Correctional Facility. He is serving a sentence of 15 years to 50 years imprisonment for kidnapping, in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.349, and a consecutive sentence of 5 years to 20 years for conspiracy to commit first-degree home invasion, in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a(2).[1] Petitioner was sentenced on December 15, 2011, after his guilty plea in Kent County Circuit Court on October 31, 2011.

         Petitioner describes the underlying facts as follows:

On August 8, 2011 at about 4:30 a.m., Grandville Police were contacted by David Byker (age 60) regarding a kidnap[p]ing. Mr. Byker told police that his wife had been kidnap[p]ed and the family vehicle stolen. Mr. Byker told police that his wife had been kidnap[p]ed by two black males who entered their home. The suspects took his wife and put her into their gold van and drove off. After the suspects took his wife, they called him and told him that he had to pay $200, 000 to get his wife back. The suspects stated that they only wanted the money and then his wife would be released.
At about 5:30 a.m., Mrs. Byker called 911 and advised that she had been abducted and was now safe in Wayland at a business. Mrs. Byker's statement was consistent with her husband's as to how the offense occurred. She stated that she was placed in the backseat of the vehicle and her eyes and mouth were covered with tape. After driving some distance, the vehicle stopped and Mrs. Byker was taken out. She was forced to walk into a cornfield to a telephone pole. She was duct taped to the pole with the tape being placed around her thighs and waist. After sensing that the suspects had left, she began to struggle her way out. She ran out of the cornfield to a nearby industrial building. She then ran down the street towards another building and saw a truck with its parking lights on. She awakened the driver and he called 911.
Subsequent investigation resulted in the arrest[s] of the Defendant and two co-defendants.

(Pet., ECF No. 1-1, PageID.18-19.) Petitioner also concisely describes the proceedings in the circuit court:

Pursuant to a plea agreement, on October 31, 2011, Mr. Goree pled guilty to counts 1 [kidnapping] and 4 [conspiracy to commit first-degree home invasion]. The balance of the charges were to be dismissed. There was also a sentence agreement that the People would recommend a sentence within the applicable guidelines range. Mr. Goree was also required to testify truthfully against any of the other co-defendants. The People also agreed that OV [Offense Variable] 7 would be scored at zero points. The factual basis for the plea came from Mr. Goree's testimony where he told the court that he held the complainant for some reward or ransom. Mr. Goree also admitted to conspiring with two other individuals to commit the home invasion in conjunction with the kidnap[p]ing.

(Id., PageID.18.) The circuit court sentenced Petitioner as described above. The sentences were within the respective guideline ranges, the kidnapping sentence was at the top of the range and the conspiracy sentence was at the bottom of the range. The ranges were determined using a score of zero points for Offense Variable 7.

         The circuit court appointed appellate counsel for Petitioner. After reviewing the file, counsel determined that he was not able to identify any non-frivolous issues for appeal. He moved to withdraw. The circuit court permitted the withdrawal, but refused to appoint new appellate counsel. Thus, an application for leave to appeal was never filed on Petitioner's behalf.

         During August of 2013, Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Mich. Ct. R. 6.500 et seq. The circuit court denied the motion by opinion and order dated August 29, 2013. Petitioner sought leave to appeal that denial in the Michigan Court of Appeals. That court denied leave by order entered May 27, 2014. Petitioner then sought leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

         The Michigan Supreme Court, in lieu of granting leave, sent the case back to the circuit court stating:

[W]e REMAND this case to the Kent Circuit Court for the appointment of substitute appellate counsel, in light of Halbert v. Michigan, 545 U.S. 605 (2005). Based on our review of the record, the circuit court granted original appointed appellate counsel's motion to withdraw, but denied the defendant's request for the appointment of substitute appellate counsel. On remand, substitute appellate counsel, once appointed, may file an application for leave to appeal in the Court of Appeals for consideration under the standard for direct appeals, and/or any appropriate postconviction motions in the circuit court, within six months of the date of the circuit court's order appointing counsel. Counsel may include among the issues raised, but is not required to include, the issues raised by the defendant in his motion for relief from judgment that was filed in 2013.

People v. Goree, 856 N.W.2d 691 (Mich. 2014) (parallel citations omitted). On January 23, 2015, the circuit court appointed Attorney Suzanna Kostovski to assist Petitioner with his appeal.

         Petitioner, with the assistance of counsel, filed a delayed application for leave to appeal his convictions and sentences in the Michigan Court of Appeals. The court of appeals denied the application for lack of merit in the grounds presented. Petitioner sought leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. That court also denied leave by order entered ...


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