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Stone v. Hoffner

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

November 15, 2016

KEITH STONE, Petitioner,
v.
BONITA HOFFNER, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ELLEN S. CARMODY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Stone's petition for writ of habeas corpus. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) authorizing United States Magistrate Judges to submit proposed findings of fact and recommendations for disposition of prisoner petitions, the undersigned recommends that Stone's petition be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         As a result of events which occurred on January 17, 2009, Petitioner was charged with: (1) carjacking; (2) unarmed robbery; (3) resisting and obstructing a police officer; and (4) being a habitual offender.[1] (ECF No. 10-3 at PageID.132-33). Petitioner subsequently entered into a plea agreement pursuant to which he agreed to plead guilty to all charges in return for an agreement that his sentences would all run concurrently.[2] (ECF No. 10-3 at PageID.132-33). Petitioner was sentenced to serve 5-15 years for resisting and obstructing and 20-50 years each for carjacking and unarmed robbery. (ECF No. 10-4 at PageID.139-40).

         Petitioner subsequently moved in the Michigan Court of Appeals for leave to appeal, asserting the following claim:

I. The Defendant contends that he is actually innocent, but pleaded guilty on advice of counsel to avoid a harsher sentence if convicted after trial, and contends that counsel advised him the sentence after the plea would be at or near the bottom of the guidelines [i.e., 10 or 11 years], but which was actually closer to the mid-range of the guidelines [i.e., 20 years]. Counsel was ineffective for not making it clear to the Defendant, and the plea, as a result was defective and not fully voluntary, intelligently, and/or knowingly made.

         The Michigan Court of Appeals denied Petitioner leave to appeal “for lack of merit in the grounds presented.” (ECF No. 10-9 at PageID.280). The Michigan Supreme Court rejected Petitioner's application for leave to appeal this determination, stating that “we are not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by this Court.” (ECF No. 10-9 at PageID.275). Petitioner thereafter filed in the trial court a motion for relief from judgment asserting the following claims:

I. Clear error has caused a miscarriage of justice, invalidating the defendant's sentences and violating his right to due process of law, where the court (a) judicially intimidated the defendant, rendering his plea involuntary and invalid; (b) accepted defendant's plea without sufficient evidentiary or factual basis; and (c) where the Michigan Court of Appeals denied the defendant's right to raise supplemental issues.
II. Defendant was denied the effective assistance of counsel, guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions, where defense counsel: (a) failed to protect client from judicial intimidation; (b) failed to relay pertinent information to client; and (c) failed to investigate, prepare a defense, or negotiate an intelligent plea.
III. The following sentencing errors are violative of the defendant's due process rights where the court: (a) sentenced the defendant based on inaccurate information in the presentence report; (b) failed to make the proper corrections to the P.S.I. report prior to forwarding it to the M.D.O.C.; (c) erroneously scored points for OV-19; and (d) departed from sentencing guidelines.
IV. Appellant/Mr. Stone was denied the effective assistance of counsel, guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions, where his appellate counsel: (a) failed to adequately argue trial counsel's ineffectiveness and judicial intimidation; (b) failed to investigate and raise claims; and (c) failed to apprise client of right to file pro per supplemental brief or protect client's rights to do so.

         The trial court denied Petitioner's motion on both procedural and substantive grounds. (ECF No. 10-7 at PageID.241-52). Petitioner appealed the matter to both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court both of which denied Petitioner leave to appeal on the ground that Petitioner failed to establish entitlement to relief under Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D). (ECF No. 10-10 at PageID.322, 332). Petitioner initiated the present action on July 9, 2014. He later amended his petition to assert the following claims:

I. Ineffective assistance of counsel.
II. Judicial participation/intimidation.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Stone's petition is subject to the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), as it amended 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The AEDPA amended the substantive standards for granting habeas relief under the following provisions:

(d) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim -
(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 ...

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