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Childers v. Romanowski

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan

October 11, 2016

TIMOTHY CHILDERS, Petitioner,
v.
KEN ROMANOWSKI, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (DKT. 1) AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          TERRENCE G. BERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a habeas case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner Timothy Childers is presently incarcerated at the Macomb Correctional Center in New Haven, Michigan. He challenges his plea-based convictions for breaking and entering a building with intent to commit a felony or larceny and for second-degree home invasion. Petitioner argues that his plea was involuntary and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. As discussed below, the Court finds these arguments to be unfounded, and the petition is therefore DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was charged in Shiawassee County Circuit Court with breaking and entering with intent to commit larceny in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110, and second-degree home invasion in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a(3). The charges arose from home break-ins that Petitioner and his co-defendant, Kent VanDesande, committed in September 2011.

         During a pretrial hearing on February 27, 2012, the prosecutor placed on the record a plea offer that had been extended to and rejected by Petitioner. The plea offer provided that Petitioner could plead guilty both to breaking and entering a building with intent to commit a felony or larceny and to second-degree home invasion in exchange for dismissal of a possession of burglar's tools charge, and an agreement not to amend the information to include a criminal enterprise charge and not to charge any additional home invasions that occurred in Shiawassee County. Dkt. 7, Ex. 2, pp. 3-4 (Pretrial Hearing Transcript, Feb. 27, 2012). The following week, on March 6, 2012, Petitioner pleaded guilty pursuant to the previously-rejected plea agreement. Dkt. 7, Ex. 3 (Plea Hearing Transcript, March 6, 2012). On April 18, 2012, the trial court sentenced Petitioner in accordance with the plea agreement to eight to twenty years' imprisonment for the breaking and entering conviction, and to ten to twenty-two years' imprisonment for the second-degree home invasion conviction. These sentences run concurrently with each other, but consecutive to a prior sentence from which Petitioner had been paroled (Petitioner was on parole for a previous home-invasion conviction when he committed the crimes at issue in this case).

         Petitioner filed a motion to withdraw his plea because it was involuntary or for a hearing on the grounds that his attorney rendered ineffective assistance. The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion, and ultimately denied it. Dkt. 7, Ex. 6, (Motion Hearing Transcript, April 19, 2013).

         Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals, arguing that his plea was involuntary and illusory, that his attorney was ineffective, that the prosecutor committed misconduct, and that the court miscalculated the sentencing guidelines. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal “for lack of merit in the grounds presented.” Dkt. 7, Ex. 7 (People v. Childers, No. 316048 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 14, 2013)). Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. Dkt. 7, Ex. 8 (People v. Childers, 495 Mich. 936 (2014)).

         Petitioner then filed the pending habeas petition, arguing that his counsel was ineffective for a number of reasons and that the prosecutor's plea-negotiation tactics amounted to coercion.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review Review of this case is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). Under the AEDPA, a state prisoner is entitled to a writ of habeas corpus only if he can show that the state court's adjudication of his claims:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceedings.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

         “A state court's decision is ‘contrary to' . . . clearly established law if it ‘applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court of the United States' cases]' or if it ‘confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [Supreme Court] precedent.'” Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003) (per curiam) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)). “[T]he ‘unreasonable application' prong of § 2254(d)(1) permits a federal habeas court to ‘grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts' of petitioner's case.” Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 413). “In order for a federal court to find a state court's application of [Supreme Court] precedent ‘unreasonable, '” however, “the state court's decision must have been more than incorrect or erroneous. … [it] must have been ‘objectively unreasonable.'” Id. at 520-21 (citations ...


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