United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER (1) DENYING MOTION TO COMPEL (DKT.
40); (2) DENYING MOTION TO SHOW CAUSE (DKT.
43); AND (3) DENYING MOTION TO SUPPLEMENT (DKT. 44)
A. GOLDSMITH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sean Daniels filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his
convictions for first-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws
§750.316(1)(a); assault with intent to murder, Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.83; and possession of a firearm during
the commission of a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b.
matter is before the Court on several motions filed by
Petitioner. First, Petitioner has filed a motion to compel
Respondent to address the factual allegations raised in his
fifth, sixth, and seventh through tenth habeas claims.
See generally Pet'r Mot. to Compel (Dkt. 40) In
the alternative, he asks the Court to construe
Respondent's failure to address the factual allegations
as an admission as to their truth. Petitioner's fifth
claim concerns the prosecutor's alleged failure to
disclose exculpatory medical evidence. Respondent argues that
Petitioner failed to show any undisclosed exculpatory medical
records existed or that the prosecutor was ever in possession
of such records. Respondent's argument clearly responds
to and denies Petitioner's factual allegations for this
claim. Similarly, Respondent's answer to claims seven
through ten adequately address the content of those claims.
sixth claim concerns the trial judge's absence from the
courtroom during closing argument. Petitioner argues that
Respondent failed to address whether the trial judge's
absence from the courtroom during closing argument and
counsel's conduct in this regard denied Petitioner his
right to counsel at a critical stage of the proceeding.
Respondent did not specifically address the absence of
counsel claim (which is not a factual allegation, but a legal
one) in his supplemental answer. Respondent's original
answer addressed Petitioner's claim that counsel
performed deficiently during closing argument and, although
Respondent did not specifically address a potential denial of
counsel claim, the answer could be viewed as implicitly
addressing this claim. Even if Respondent failed to address
this claim, the appropriate remedy is not to deem
Respondent's silence an admission. Doing so would be
tantamount to granting Petitioner relief on his absence of
counsel claim. Default judgments are not available in habeas
corpus proceedings. Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134,
138 (6th Cir. 1970). The failure of the State of Michigan to
respond specifically to a particular claim does not relieve a
habeas petitioner of the burden to prove that his custody is
“in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The
Court finds Respondent's answer and supplemental answer,
considered together, sufficient to allow the Court to fairly
evaluate this claim. Therefore, the Court denies
Petitioner's motion to compel.
Petitioner filed a motion to show cause why Respondent should
not be held in contempt of court for failing to file, as part
of the Rule 5 materials, certain pleadings filed in Michigan
Court of Appeals case no. 317038. See generally
Pet'r Mot. to Show Cause (Dkt. 43). Specifically,
Petitioner claims that Respondent failed to file: (i)
Petitioner's brief in support of complaint for
superintending control, (ii) the State's answer to the
complaint, (iii) the State's brief in support of answer,
(iv) the Michigan Court of Appeals' docket sheet, and (v)
the order denying complaint for superintending control. With
the exception of the Michigan Court of Appeals' docket
sheet for case no. 317038, Respondent filed all of the
foregoing papers. See Ex. 4 to Notice of Filing
(Dkt. 38-4). The Court finds that the state court of
appeals' docket sheet is not relevant to a determination
of the merits of the petition. Therefore, the Court denies
Petitioner's motion to show cause.
Petitioner filed a motion to supplement (Dkt. 44), in which
he seeks to supplement the record to include details
regarding his trial attorney's apparent recent suspension
from the practice of law by the Michigan Attorney Discipline
Board. Based upon the information provided by Petitioner, it
appears that the disciplinary proceedings are unrelated to
Petitioner's specific case. Petitioner seeks instead to
provide the information as evidence of his trial
attorney's general character. Rule 7 of the Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases permits a federal court to allow
the parties to expand the record by “submitting
additional materials relating to the petition.” The
decision whether to allow expansion of the record under Rule
7 is left to the discretion of the district court.
Landrum v. Mitchell, 625 F.3d 905, 923 (6th Cir.
2010). At this time, the Court finds that Petitioner has not
shown that the disciplinary proceedings are sufficiently
related to the claims raised in his petition to warrant
expansion of the record. Therefore, Court denies the motion
to supplment on this basis. This denial is without prejudice
to Petitioner seeking to expand the record upon a showing
that the disciplinary proceeding directly involved
counsel's representation of Petitioner.
reasons stated, the Court denies Petitioner's motion to
compel (Dkt. 40), motion to show cause (Dkt. 43), ...