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Adams v. Haas

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

January 20, 2017

CARON ADAMS, Petitioner,
v.
RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO STAY (DKT. 10), HOLDING IN ABEYANCE THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS, AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING CASE

          TERRENCE G. BERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner Caron Adams asks the Court to stay his petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons stated below, the Court holds the petition in abeyance and stays the proceedings under the terms outlined in this opinion. The Court also administratively closes the case.

         I. Background

         Petitioner was charged in Wayne County Circuit Court with two counts of assault with intent to commit murder; two counts of armed robbery; two counts of carjacking, two counts of resisting and obstructing; carrying a weapon with unlawful intent; and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Dkt. 1, Pg ID 17. On December 4, 2013, Petitioner pleaded no contest to all of the charges, Dkt. 1, Pg ID 17, pursuant to a Cobbs agreement which provided that Petitioner's sentences would run concurrently-with the exception of the felony firearm sentence, which would run consecutively to all the other sentences as required by state law. See People v. Cobbs, 443 Mich. 276, 505 N.W.2d 208 (1993). At sentencing, Petitioner sought to withdraw his guilty plea because he said he was coerced by his attorney to enter the plea and was innocent of the crimes. Dkt. 1, Pg ID 17. The trial court denied Petitioner's motion. Dkt. 1, Pg ID 17. The trial court then sentenced Petitioner to 18 to 30 years for the assault with intent to murder, armed robbery, and carjacking convictions, 1 to 5 years for the carrying a weapon with unlawful intent conviction, and 1 to 2 years for the resisting and obstructing conviction, to be served concurrently with one another and consecutively to 2 years for the felony-firearm conviction.

         Following his conviction and sentence, Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals, which was denied for lack of merit in the grounds presented. People v. Adams, No. 323171 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 3, 2014).

         Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, which was also denied. People v. Adams, 497 Mich. 984 (Mich. March 31, 2015) (unpublished table decision). On May 7, 2015, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court.

         II. Discussion

         Petitioner asks this Court to stay these proceedings and hold in abeyance his petition for habeas corpus relief so that he can seek relief in the state courts on three grounds not presented in his direct appeal and not raised in his habeas petition. Dkt. 10. A habeas petition may be stayed pending the exhaustion of claims in the state courts where outright dismissal of the petition, even without prejudice, could jeopardize future consideration of Petitioner's claims in this Court due to the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations contained in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 276-77 (2005). The stay-and-abeyance procedure should be used only in “limited circumstances, ” id. at 277, and is appropriate only when the district court finds good cause for the petitioner's failure to exhaust his claims in state court and that the unexhausted claims are not “plainly meritless.” Id.

         The Court will grant Petitioner's motion to hold the petition in abeyance while he returns to the state courts to exhaust his additional claims. Several considerations support holding this petition in abeyance. First, the outright dismissal of the petition, even without prejudice, could preclude consideration of a post-exhaustion habeas corpus petition because of expiration of the one-year limitations period. Second, if the Court were to adjudicate the petition and find that relief is not warranted before the state courts ruled on Petitioner's unexhausted claims, Petitioner would have to overcome the high bar that must be met to file a second habeas petition in order to bring the newly-exhausted claims before this Court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2). Finally, “[i]f 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.” Thomas v. Stoddard, 89 F.Supp.3d 937, 942 (E.D. Mich. 2015).

         A. Good Cause

         Petitioner asserts that his claims are based upon newly-discovered evidence as cause for his failure to exhaust these claims. Dkt. 10, Pg ID 369. Courts have found the “good cause” standard satisfied where unexhausted claims are based on recently discovered evidence. See, e.g., Midgett v. Curtin, 2010 WL 457459, *1 (E.D. Mich. 2010); Reed v. Wolfenbarger, 2009 WL 3059135, *3 (E.D. Mich. 2009). The Court finds that Petitioner's assertion that the claims are based upon newly-discovered evidence is sufficient to show good cause for failing previously to present these claims.

         B. Not Plainly Meritless

         Because the unexhausted claims have not yet been fully developed, it would be premature for the Court to assess their merits. Instead, the Court considers whether the claims, if substantiated by sufficient law and facts, could serve as grounds for granting a writ of habeas corpus. Accord Wilson v. McKee, 2015 WL 1912570, *2 (E.D. Mich. 2015). Petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel and Brady claims both raise constitutional claims that could provide a basis for habeas corpus relief. Thus, Petitioner's claims, if supported by sufficient evidence, are not plainly meritless.

         C. No ...


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