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Warsaw v. Palmer

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

October 12, 2016

CALVIN DARNELL WARSAW, Petitioner,
v.
CARMEN PALMER, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF TRANSCRIPTS [3], DENYING THE PETITION FOR A STAY [4], AND SUMMARILY DISMISSING THE HABEAS CORPUS PETITION [1]

          DENISE PAGE HOOD CHIEF JUDGE

         On July 27, 2016, petitioner Calvin Darnell Warsaw (Warsaw) filed a pro se habeas corpus petition, challenging his state convictions for second-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.317, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony firearm), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. Warsaw asserts as grounds for relief that: (1) the trial court abused its discretion when it failed to correct information in his pre-sentence report; (2) he should have been given an opportunity to contest enforcement of a court order to pay attorney fees; and (3) he was sentenced on the basis of incorrect sentencing guidelines. Also pending before the Court are Warsaw's petitions to compel production of transcripts and to stay these proceedings while he exhausts state remedies for his third claim.

         The Court has determined that none of Warsaw's habeas claims are cognizable on habeas corpus review. Accordingly, the habeas petition will be summarily dismissed, and the petitions for transcripts and a stay will be denied.

         I. Background

         Warsaw alleges that, in 2014, he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and one count of felony firearm and that, on July 1, 2014, the trial court sentenced him to prison for thirty-three to fifty years. Warsaw states that he raised his first two habeas claims in the Michigan Court of Appeals, which denied his appeal for lack of merit in the grounds presented, and that he raised the same two claims in the Michigan Supreme Court. On June 30, 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal because it was not persuaded to review the issues. See People v. Warsaw, 498 Mich. 854; 864 N.W.2d 573 (2015). On July 27, 2016, Warsaw filed his habeas corpus petition, his petition for transcripts, and his petition to stay these proceedings.

         II. Analysis

         As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that Warsaw apparently failed to raise his third claim regarding the sentencing guidelines in the Michigan Court of Appeals and in the Michigan Supreme Court. The doctrine of exhaustion of state remedies requires state prisoners to invoke one complete round of a state's established appellate review process before presenting their claims to a federal court in a habeas corpus petition. O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). The exhaustion requirement, however, is not jurisdictional, Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 349 (1989), and none of Warsaw's claims are cognizable on habeas review. Consequently, it would be a waste of judicial resources to require Warsaw to exhaust state remedies for his third claim. The Court therefore denies Warsaw's petition for a stay and proceeds to analyze the merits of his claims.

         A. The Pre-Sentence Report

         The first habeas claim alleges that the trial court abused its discretion and violated state law when it failed to correct information in Warsaw's pre-sentence report. Warsaw states that his sentencing guidelines were reduced before sentencing, but the changes were not reflected in his pre-sentence report. Warsaw seeks to have his case remanded to the state trial court for correction of the pre-sentence report.

         Although Warsaw argues that he has a due process right to have his pre-sentence report corrected, the primary basis for his claim is Mich. Comp. Laws § 771.14(6) and Michigan Court Rule 6.425(E)(2), which require a pre-sentence report to be amended before the report is transmitted to the Michigan Department of Corrections. Even if the trial court violated § 771.14(6) and Rule 6.425(E)(2), “[a] federal court may not issue the writ [of habeas corpus] on the basis of a perceived error of state law.” Pulley v. Harris, 465 U.S. 37, 41 (1984). “In conducting habeas review, a federal court is limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991).

         Furthermore, “the mere presence of . . . inaccurate information in a [pre-sentence report] does not constitute a denial of due process.” Hili v. Sciarrotta, 140 F.3d 210, 216 (2nd Cir. 1998). The Court therefore declines to grant relief on Warsaw's first claim, as his claim is a state-law issue, which does not entitle him to relief. Rodriguez v. Jones, 625 F.Supp.2d 552, 569 (E.D. Mich. 2009).

         B. The Assessment of Court Costs

         Warsaw alleges next that the trial court ordered him to pay a fee of $400.00 for his court-appointed attorney. Warsaw states that the fee is currently being deducted from his prison account and that he had a constitutional right to notice that the trial court was enforcing its order. Warsaw also claims that he had a right to contest the court's action on the basis of his inability to pay the fees. He wants this Court to order the state court to amend or revoke its order for payment of attorney fees.

         State prisoners are entitled to the writ of habeas corpus only if they are “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). And the traditional purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to challenge the fact or length of confinement and to ...


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