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Sandlain v. United States

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

February 8, 2017

Blake Joseph Sandlain, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          R. Steven Whalen, United States Magistrate Judge

         OPINION AND ORDER: (1) STAYING HABEAS PETITION PENDING THE OUTCOME OF BECKLES V. UNITED STATES, (2) DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTIONS FOR COUNSEL, MODIFICATION OF THE RECORD, AND RECUSAL, AND (3) ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING THIS CASE UNTIL BECKLES V. UNITED STATES IS DECIDED

          MI HON. GERSHWIN A. DRAIN, United States District Court Judge

         I. Introduction

         Blake Joseph Sandlain, an incarcerated person, plead guilty to two felonies and is currently serving his sentence in Leavenworth, Kansas. Mr. Sandlain has eight pending motions with the Court. Three motions involve Mr. Sandlain's habeas corpus claims. See Dkt. Nos. 87, 89, and 90. The other five motions involve appointment of counsel, modification of the record, and recusal. See Dkt. Nos. 94, 95, 96, 98, and 99. For the reasons that follow, the Court will STAY Mr. Sandlain's habeas motion pending the outcome of Beckles. The Court will DENY Mr. Sandlain's Motions for counsel, modification and recusal.

         II. Factual Background

         On April 28, 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Blake Joseph Sandlain (“Petitioner” or “Mr. Sandlain”) for: (1) being a felon in possession of a firearm; (2) possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance; (3) maintaining drug-involved premises; and (4) use a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Dkt. No. 7. On September 9, 2014, this Court heard argument on Mr. Sandlain's Motion to Suppress Evidence. That hearing was adjourned, then continued on September 16, 2014. Dkt. No. 32.

         On September 16, 2014, this Court denied Mr. Sandlain's Motion to Suppress. Dkt. No. 33. On January 8, 2015, Mr. Sandlain entered into a plea agreement, which the Court accepted. Dkt. No. 44. The Court sentenced Mr. Sandlain to 180 months imprisonment and supervised release for three years. Dkt. No. 73. Mr. Sandlain did not appeal.

         On August 7, 2015, Mr. Sandlain moved to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See Dkt. No. 55. This Court dismissed Mr. Sandlain's Section 2255 motion with prejudice and did not issue a certificate of appealability. Dkt. No. 72. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit denied Mr. Sandlain's application for a certificate of appealability and denied his motion to appoint counsel. Dkt. No. 80. In its opinion, the Sixth Circuit indicated that “Sandlain's classification as a career offender during his sentencing proceedings might be affected by Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015)[.]” Id.

         In Johnson, the Supreme Court held that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act, that defines “violent felony”, is unconstitutionally vague. See Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2555, 2563. At the time of Mr. Sandlain's sentencing, Section 4B1.2(a)(2) of the Sentencing Guidelines contained identical language in its definition of a “crime of violence”. Whether Johnson applies to the Sentencing Guideline and whether it will be retroactive will be decided by the Supreme Court soon. See Beckles v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2510 (2016). Based on Johnson and Beckles, the Sixth Circuit authorized Mr. Sandlain to file a second habeas motion because Mr. Sandlain “may be entitled to relief from his career offender designation[.]” Dkt. No. 84.

         There are currently eight motions pending before the Court: (1) Mr. Sandlain's Application to file a Second or Successive Motion to Vacate Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, Dkt. No. 87; (2) Mr. Sandlain's Second or Successive Motion to Vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, Dkt. No. 89; (3) Mr. Sandlain's Motion to Object to the Government Stay, Dkt. No. 90; (4) Mr. Sandlain's Motion for Appointment of Counsel, Dkt. No. 94; (5) Mr. Sandlain's Motion for Correction or Modification of the Record, Dkt. No. 95; (6) Mr. Sandlain's Motion to Remove the Beckles Issue to Another Judge, Dkt. No. 96; (7) Mr. Sandlain's Motion to Request Disposition of Appointment of Counsel, Dkt. No. 98; and (8) Mr. Sandlain's Motion to Request Disposition of Correction of the Record, Dkt. No. 99. The Court will discuss each.

         III. Discussion

         1. Mr. Sandlain's Motion to Remove the Beckles Issue to Another Judge

         In a motion filed on February 2, 2017, Mr. Sandlain requests that the unresolved Beckles issue in this case “be removed from Judge Gershwin Drain” and be placed “before Chief Judge Rosen”. Dkt. No. 96, pp. 1, 6 (Pg. ID 632, 637). Mr. Sandlain argues that the Court is personally biased against him.

         This is at least the second time that Mr. Sandlain has argued that this Court is personally biased against him. See Dkt. No. 82, p. 6 (Pg. ID 552). Previously, Mr. Sandlain argued that the Court was biased against him because the Court denied Mr. Sandlain's initial Section 2255 Motion. The Court previously explained to Mr. Sandlain, “[r]eceing an adverse ruling does not mean the Court is personally biased against Mr. Sandlain.” Dkt. No. 83, p. 2 (Pg. ID 570). That statement remains true today.

         According to Mr. Sandlain, the Court's bias is evident in its September 16, 2014 order, which denied Defendants' Motion to Suppress. In that order, the Court recited the following facts:

“In preparation for her routine parole home visit, Officer Lopez-Glazer testified that she reviewed her file of Sandlain.
As a part of this review Officer Lopez-Glazer consulted Sandlain's parole file, which contained Sandlain's Offender Tracking Information System (“OTIS”) - Offender Profile, which indicated that Defendant Sandlain had given written consent to search his person and/or property. Officer Lopez-Glazer ...

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