United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO
HOLD THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS IN ABEYANCE (DKT.
5) AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING THE CASE
A. GOLDSMITH United States District Judge.
Dakota Lynn Shananaquet, confined at the Huron Valley
Women's Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan,
filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Dkt. 1), challenging her convictions
for three counts of perjury, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.422(b); possession of a financial transaction device,
Mich. Comp. Laws§ 750.157p; larceny from a motor
vehicle, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.356a(1); false report of
a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.411a(1)(b); and being a
fourth habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.12.
Petitioner has filed a motion hold the petition in abeyance
to permit her to return to the state courts to present
additional claims that have not been exhausted with the state
courts and that are not included in her current habeas
petition (Dkt. 5). For the reasons stated below, the Court
grants the motion and holds the petition in abeyance and
stays the proceedings under the terms outlined in this
opinion to permit Petitioner to return to the state courts to
exhaust her additional claims.
was convicted following a jury trial in the Emmet County
Circuit Court. Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on
appeal. People v. Shananaquet, No. 318251 (Mich. Ct.
App. Mar. 17, 2015), leave denied 869 N.W.2d 599
(Mich. 2015). On September 8, 2016, Petitioner filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner seeks habeas
relief on the claims that she raised in the state courts on
her direct appeal. Petitioner has now filed a motion to stay
the proceedings and hold the petition in abeyance so that she
can return to the state courts and exhaust additional claims
that are not included in her current petition.
federal district court is authorized to stay fully exhausted
federal habeas petitions pending the exhaustion of other
claims in the state courts. See Nowaczyk v. Warden, New
Hampshire State Prison, 299 F.3d 69, 77-79 (1st Cir.
2002) (holding that district courts should “take
seriously any request for a stay”); Anthony v.
Cambra, 236 F.3d 568, 575 (9th Cir. 2000); see also
Bowling v. Haeberline, 246 F. App'x 303, 306 (6th
Cir. 2007) (a habeas court is entitled to delay a decision in
a habeas petition that contains only exhausted claims
“when considerations of comity and judicial economy
would be served” (quoting Nowaczyk, 299 F.3d
at 83)); Thomas v. Stoddard, 89 F.Supp.3d 937, 943
(E.D. Mich. 2015). Indeed, although there is no bright-line
rule that a district court can never dismiss a
fully-exhausted habeas petition because of the pendency of
unexhausted claims in state court, in order for a federal
court to justify departing from the “heavy obligation
to exercise jurisdiction, ” there must be some
compelling reason to prefer a dismissal over a stay.
Nowaczyk, 299 F.3d at 82; see also Bowling,
246 F. App'x at 306 (district court erred in dismissing
petition containing only exhausted claims, as opposed to
exercising its jurisdiction over petition, merely because
petitioner had independent proceeding pending in state court
involving other claims).
Court grants Petitioner's motion to hold the petition in
abeyance while she returns to the state courts to exhaust her
new claims. In making this determination, “the Court
considers the consequences to the habeas petitioner if it
were to proceed to adjudicate the petition and find that
relief is not warranted before the state courts ruled on
unexhausted claims. In that scenario, should the petitioner
subsequently seek habeas relief on the claims the state
courts rejected, [she] would have to clear the high hurdle of
filing a second habeas petition.” Thomas, 89
F.Supp.3d at 942 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)).
Moreover, “if this Court were to proceed in parallel
with state post-conviction proceedings, there is a risk of
wasting judicial resources if the state court might grant
relief on the unexhausted claim.” Id.
considerations support the granting of a stay. The Court is
currently not in a position to determine whether
Petitioner's new claims have any merit; thus, the Court
cannot say that Petitioner's claims are “plainly
meritless.” Id. at 943. Nor, on the other
hand, can the Court at this time say that Petitioner's
new claims plainly warrant habeas relief. Id. If the
state courts deny post-conviction relief, this Court would
still benefit from the state courts' adjudication of
these claims in determining whether to permit Petitioner to
amend her petition to add these claims. Id. Finally,
the Court sees no prejudice to Respondent in staying this
case, whereas Petitioner “could be prejudiced by having
to simultaneously fight two proceedings in separate courts
and, as noted, if this Court were to rule before the state
courts, [Petitioner] would have the heavy burden of
satisfying 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)'s
second-or-successive-petition requirements, ” should
she seek habeas relief on her new claims. Id.
even where a district court determines that a stay is
appropriate pending exhaustion, the district court
“should place reasonable time limits on a
petitioner's trip to state court and back.”
Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 278 (2005). To ensure
that there are no delays by Petitioner in exhausting state
court remedies, the Court imposes time limits within which
Petitioner must proceed with her state court post-conviction
proceedings. See Palmer v. Carlton, 276 F.3d 777,
781 (6th Cir. 2002).
Court holds the petition in abeyance to allow Petitioner to
initiate post-conviction proceedings in the state courts.
This tolling is conditioned upon Petitioner initiating her
state post-conviction remedies within ninety (90) days of
receiving this Court's order and returning to federal
court within ninety (90) days of completing the exhaustion of
state court post-conviction remedies. Hargrove, 300
F.3d at 721.
method of properly exhausting these claims in the state
courts would be through filing a motion for relief from
judgment with the Emmet County Circuit Court under Mich. Ct.
R. 6.502. See Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 419
(6th Cir. 2009). A trial court is authorized to appoint
counsel for Petitioner, seek a response from the prosecutor,
expand the record, permit oral argument, and hold an
evidentiary hearing. Mich. Ct. R. 6.505-6.507, 6.508 (B) and
(C). Denial of a motion for relief from judgment is
reviewable by the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan
Supreme Court upon the filing of an application for leave to
appeal. Mich. Ct. R. 6.509; Mich. Ct. R. 7.203; Mich. Ct. R.
7.302; Nasr v. Stegall, 978 F.Supp. 714, 717 (E.D.
Mich. 1997). Petitioner is required to appeal the denial of
her post-conviction motion to the Michigan Court of Appeals
and the Michigan Supreme Court in order to properly exhaust
the claims that she would raise in her post-conviction
motion. See, e.g., Mohn v. Bock, 208
F.Supp.2d 796, 800 (E.D. Mich. 2002).
the Court grants Petitioner's motion to stay and hold her
habeas petition in abeyance (Dkt. 5). Petitioner must file a
motion for relief from judgment in state court within ninety
(90) days of entry of this order and then immediately file a
notice with this Court that includes proof of the state-court
filing and a copy of the filing itself. If she fails to
timely notify the Court that she sought state-court
post-conviction relief, the Court will proceed to adjudicate
the petition as it stands. Within ninety (90) days after the
conclusion of the state-court post-conviction proceedings,
Petitioner may move to amend her habeas petition to add her
new claims. Otherwise, Petitioner must inform the Court that
she will proceed with the petition as is.
avoid administrative difficulties, the Court orders the Clerk
of Court to close this case for statistical purposes only.
Nothing in this order shall be considered a disposition of