United States District Court, E.D. Michigan
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO
STAY PROCEEDINGS AND HOLD HABEAS PETITION IN ABEYANCE (DKT.
TERRENCE G. BERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a habeas case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Petitioner asks this Court to hold in abeyance his habeas
petition so that he may return to state court to assert new
claims. Because the current habeas petition contains only
exhausted claims and because there is no pressing concern
that the statute of limitations will run before Petitioner
can exhaust his new claims in state court and return to
federal court, Petitioner's motion is DENIED.
a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court Michigan,
prisoner Tahri Smith (“Petitioner”) was convicted
of four crimes:
▪ First-degree murder under Mich. Comp. Laws §
▪ Assault with intent to commit murder under Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.83;
▪ First-degree home invasion under Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.110a; and
▪ Possession of a firearm during the commission of a
felony under Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b.
convictions arise from an armed robbery in which Petitioner
and three other men went to the apartment of Maria Zavala,
demanded money, killed Zavala by shooting her in the head,
held Zavala's neighbor Angela Lampkin at gunpoint because
she could identify Petitioner, and then shot her, too (she
survived). See People v. Smith, No. 318283, 2015 WL
728461, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 19, 2015). Petitioner was
sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on the murder
conviction, to 25 to 50 years' imprisonment on the
assault conviction, to 10 to 20 years' imprisonment on
the home invasion conviction, and to two years'
imprisonment on the felony firearm conviction. Id.
appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, arguing
ineffective assistance of counsel for a number of reasons and
violation of double jeopardy for a jury verdict finding him
guilty of both premeditated murder and felony murder, and
asking for an independent investigator to help him uncover
exonerating evidence. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed
Smith's conviction in an unpublished opinion. See
Id. Petitioner then sought leave to appeal to the
Michigan Supreme Court on only the ineffective assistance of
counsel claim, which was denied on September 29, 2015.
People v. Smith, 869 N.W.2d 588 (Mich. 2015).
Petitioner neither appealed to the Supreme Court of the
United States nor sought collateral review in the state
courts. Instead, he filed a petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus in this Court, dated November 23, 2015, asserting the
same grounds for ineffective assistance of counsel as he did
in the Michigan appellate courts. (Dkt. 1, p. 6).
now seeks to return to the state courts to raise new claims
for relief including his right to confront a Facebook
representative who produced social media evidence,
ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to investigate
a res gestae witness and for failing to investigate
cellphone records of the deceased, and ineffective assistance
of appellate counsel for failing to raise these issues on
Standard of Review
federal district court may not adjudicate a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus, based on a state-court judgment that
contains both exhausted and unexhausted claims (“mixed
petitions”) because the interests of comity and
federalism dictate that the state courts must have the first
opportunity to decide the petitioner's claims. Rose
v. Lundy,455 U.S. 509, 518-519 (1982). Instead, a
prisoner filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2254 must first exhaust all state remedies.
See O'Sullivan v. Boerckel,526 U.S. 838, 845
(1999). For a Michigan prisoner to satisfy the exhaustion
requirement, he must present each issue he seeks to raise in
a federal habeas proceeding both to ...