United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
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.
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
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.
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,
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 March 31, 2015) (unpublished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.
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.
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).
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.
Not Plainly Meritless
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.