United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART RESPONDENT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS AND ORDERING PLAINTIFF TO SHOW CAUSE AS TO
WHY PETITION SHOULD NOT BE DISMISSED
J. MICHELSON, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Woods filed this petition for habeas corpus claiming that
when she pled nolo contendre in 2012 to an assault charge,
she did not do so voluntarily and her counsel was
ineffective. But, at the time Woods filed her petition, she
had already completed her sentence on the 2012 conviction.
This has prompted the Warden to file a motion to dismiss
Woods' habeas corpus petition on the grounds that Woods
was not “in custody” for the conviction her
petition attacks when she filed her petition. (R. 7.)
reviewed the Warden's motion, Woods' petition, and
Woods' answer to this Court's show-cause order on
this very issue (which apparently has been overlooked by the
Warden), the Court finds that while Woods was not “in
custody” pursuant to her 2012 conviction when she filed
her petition, she was “in custody” pursuant to a
parole revocation and that her petition can be fairly
construed as a challenge to that revocation. As such, the
Court will GRANT IN PART the Warden's motion. The
Court's analysis of the Warden's motion has brought
to light other issues with Wood's petition, however, and
so the Court will direct Woods to show cause as to why her
petition should not be dismissed on other grounds.
2010, Woods pled guilty to assault with intent to commit
murder and was sentenced to 23 months to 10 years in prison.
(R. 4, PID 58, 66.) In April 2011, Woods was granted parole,
with the parole term set to expire in April 2013. (R. 4, PID
still on parole, Woods was arrested and charged on July 2,
2012 with assault with a dangerous weapon. (See R.
4, PID 66, 69.) She was bound over on July 16, 2012. (R. 1,
PID 22.) In October 2012, Woods pled nolo contendre to that
charge. (R. 4, PID 58.) On December 4, 2012, Woods was
sentenced to time served plus probation for that conviction.
(Id.) Woods' probation term ended, and thus her
2012 sentence was discharged, in October 2014. MDOC Offender
Tracking Information System (“OTIS”),
otis2profile.aspx?mdocNumber=771835 (last visited Sept. 30,
December 5, 2012 (the day after Woods was sentenced on the
2012 conviction), the Michigan Department of Corrections
revoked Woods' parole associated with the 2010
conviction. (See R. 4, PID 66-67.) As will be
discussed in further detail below, it appears that the reason
for the revocation was Woods' 2012 conviction.
2015, still incarcerated for her parole violation, Woods
filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with this Court.
2016, the Warden moved to dismiss Woods' petition. (R.
to the Warden, because Woods' petition challenges only
her 2012 conviction, and because the sentence for that
conviction was discharged prior to when Woods filed her
petition, this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and
her petition must be dismissed. (See generally R.
Court agrees with the Warden that if Woods'
petition challenges only her 2012 conviction, this Court must
dismiss her petition. The federal habeas statute reads, in
relevant part, “a district court shall entertain an
application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person
in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the
Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) (emphasis added). The Supreme Court
has interpreted this statutory provision as “requiring
that the habeas petitioner be ‘in custody' under
the conviction or sentence under attack at the time his
petition is filed.” Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S.
488, 490-91 (1989); see also Lackawanna Cty. Dist.
Attorney v. Coss, 532 U.S. 394, 401 (2001) (“Coss
is no longer serving the sentences imposed pursuant to his
1986 convictions, and therefore cannot bring a federal habeas
petition directed solely at those convictions.”). It is
beyond dispute that Woods' sentence for her 2012
conviction was discharged in October 2014. And it is beyond
dispute that Woods did not file her federal habeas corpus
petition until June 2015. Thus, if the 2012 conviction or
sentence is the only one “under attack” from
Woods' petition, then this Court lacks jurisdiction over
Woods' petition challenge only her 2012 conviction? In a
prior screening opinion, the Court thought the answer was
unclear. On the one hand, it was plain that Woods'
petition explicitly challenged only her 2012 conviction. The
articulated grounds for relief were that her mental illness
prevented her from knowingly and voluntarily entering a nolo
plea to the 2012 charges and that her counsel was
constitutionally ineffective in advising her of the
consequences of her plea to the 2012 charges. (See
R. 1, PID 6, 19.) On the other hand, in an affidavit she
attached in support of her habeas corpus petition, Woods
stated, “I would not have taken the [nolo contendere]
plea [on the 2012 charges], as the parole violation in [the
2010 case] is based on untruths and incompetent evidence and
my attorney did not explain to me what I was agreeing to in
the plea deal.” (R. 1, PID 34.) She also stated,
“My attorney misinformed me and stated that I would get
out of jail sooner if I pled no contest to the parole
violation.” (R. 1, PID 47.) As such, this Court thought
that Woods could be complaining about her parole revocation,
and that she was challenging her 2012 conviction because that
conviction was the basis of her parole revocation. So the
Court ordered Woods to “file a supplement to her
petition stating the basis for her parole violation.”
(R. 3, PID 54.)
has complied. Her show-cause response states that she had
been incarcerated for nearly three years for her parole
violation. (R. 4, PID 58.) And it provides, “In regard
to the connection between the 2012 conviction and a parole
violation associated with the 2010 conviction, Petitioner
states she was found guilty on October 31, 2012, in relation
to a new charge which also constituted a parole
violation [in the 2010 case] . . . . Petitioner
satisfies the § 2254's ‘in ...