United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. QUIST, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
accordance with a plea agreement, on May 29, 2014, Petitioner
Lawrence Shannon Scott pleaded guilty in the Kent County
Circuit Court to second-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.317, and possession of a firearm during the
commission of a felony, second offense, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.227b. Petitioner has attached to his petition the
prosecutor's description of the plea agreement under
which he pleaded guilty:
MS. KONCKI: . . . Upon a successful plea and sentence as
charged to count one in the murder file, which is murder,
second degree, and to count two, the felony firearm, second
offense, which is a five-year, consecutive offense, the
People have agreed to dismiss all other counts in that case
and the supplemental information and notices. And we've
also agreed to nolle pros, or dismiss, the perjury file. And
there is a sentence recommendation of twenty years on the
murder, second degree, plus five years consecutive on the
felony firearm, second.
Those are the major points about the offer, your Honor. I
have previously sent a letter dated May 22nd, 2014 to the
defense entitled Proposed Plea Offer that outlines all the
details completely of the plea offer, and I've made a
copy for the Court, and asked it be marked as an Exhibit to
be made part of the record.
(Plea Tr., 4, ECF No. 2-1, PageID.31.)
23, 2014, two weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced,
Petitioner filed a pro per motion to substitute counsel and a
motion to withdraw the plea (ECF Nos. 2-2, 2-3,
PageID.32-37). Petitioner argued that there had been a
complete breakdown in his relationship with his attorney
caused by the attorney's ineffective assistance of
counsel in not providing Petitioner with the discovery he had
repeatedly requested. The court heard Petitioner on his
motions at the beginning of the sentencing hearing held on
July 7, 2014. Petitioner represented at the hearing that he
had told his attorney that he was actually innocent and that
he wanted to receive all discovery from the prosecutor. He
asserted that the trial counsel had not visited him and had
never produced the information for Petitioner or his family,
at their requests. The court inquired of defense counsel and
of the prosecutor about the truth of Petitioner's
representations. Defense counsel responded as follows:
MILLER: Thank you, your Honor.
I would disagree with - with the representations made. I did
meet with M. Scott at the jail, spoken with him on a number
of occasions. I've reviewed the discovery that we had
with him; I reviewed everything that we had. All the
discovery that I was provided by the prosecution was given to
I also mentioned in chambers that I had discussed the plea
with him. In fact, there was a plea offer made by Ms. Koncki;
and there was another plea offer that Mr. Forsyth - Mr.
Forsyth insisted. I talked with Ms. Koncki, we had further
negotiations; and we were able to secure the better bargain,
the original bargain, which was a better plea offer for him.
Prior to his coming in and - making a plea, we brought him
over to, I believe it was the court next door, or one of the
courtrooms, and we sat down - Detective Boillat was there,
Ms. Koncki was there, I was there - reviewed all of the
discovery with him, told him everything that the prosecution
had, everything, all the videos, all the documentation that
After that I met with [Petitioner], I explained everything to
him. We reviewed that again, we talked about that. I asked
him what his - what his preference was.
I did review his guidelines, being a supp four, that his
guidelines would be 270 to 950 [months] if he lost. I also
explained to him and I stressed to him that the statute
itself does not require intent; it requires that he engaged
in - or the willful disregard, the likelihood, the natural
tendency of said act would cause great death or - death or
great bodily harm. I stressed that to him. I told him that it
would be very difficult to overcome at trial. He knew all of
this. He entered into his - his plea freely and voluntarily.
He knew what he was doing; he made that plea.
(Sentencing Tr. (S. Tr.), 6-7, ECF No. 2-1, Page ID.26-27.)
In response, Petitioner told the court that defense counsel
was lying. He admitted meeting with the prosecutor and the
officer, but he denied that he had been shown evidence.
Petitioner represented that the only thing he had been shown
was the police report. (Id., PageID.27-28.)
later, the court inquired of the prosecutor whether defense
counsel's descriptions of what had transpired were
essentially accurate. The prosecutor responded as follows:
MS. KONCKI: They are, your Honor. There's also a
recording of that meeting. I've given a copy to the
defense. I have a copy I can mark as an exhibit if the Court
would like to do that; it's dated May 27, 2014.
(Id., PageID.29.) The court declined to make the
substance of the recording a part of the court record, but
agreed to make it available. (Id.) The court then
ruled as follows:
THE COURT: The motion to substitute counsel or to,
alternatively, to withdraw his plea, if that is an
alternative relief that the defendant seeks, is respectfully
denied. The Court finds the defendant is an intelligent,
articulate young man with a substantial criminal record; that
he has had many different opportunities to understand and
comprehend the manner in which the criminal justice system
operates. He made a knowing, intelligent, voluntary decision
to enter a plea resolution of the charges before the Court.
He has pled guilty to and will be sentenced today to
homicide, murder in the second degree, and felony firearm as
a second . . . .
(Id., PageID.29.) The court then sentenced Petitioner in
accordance with the plea agreement to a prison term of 20 to
50 years on the murder conviction and a term of 5 years on
the felony-firearm conviction, to run consecutively and prior
to the murder conviction. Both sentences were imposed
consecutively to the sentences for the offenses on which
Petitioner was on parole at the time he committed the murder.
sought leave to appeal his convictions to both the Michigan
Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme ...