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Hatton v. Haas

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

March 8, 2017

KARL HATTON, #866369, Petitioner,
v.
RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

          Arthur J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         This is a habeas case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Michigan prisoner Karl Hatton (“Petitioner”) pleaded no contest to manslaughter, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.321, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b, in the Ogemaw County Circuit Court and was sentenced, as a second habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.10, to consecutive terms of eight to 22 ½ years imprisonment and two years imprisonment in 2014. In his petition, he raises claims concerning the validity of his sentence and the effectiveness of trial counsel. For the reasons stated herein, the Court denies the habeas petition. The Court also denies a certificate of appealability and denies leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         II. Facts and Procedural History

         Petitioner's convictions arise from the shooting death of an unarmed man who came to his residence to collect a minor drug debt. He was originally charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder, or manslaughter, felon in possession of a firearm, and felony firearm. He pleaded no contest to manslaughter and felony firearm in exchange for dismissal of the other charges. There was no sentencing agreement.

         At sentencing, the trial court determined that the sentencing guidelines were correctly scored with a minimum sentencing range of 43 to 107 months imprisonment. There was no objection by defense counsel. The trial court then sentenced Petitioner, as a second habitual offender, to eight to 22 ½ years imprisonment on the manslaughter conviction and a consecutive term of two years imprisonment on the felony firearm conviction.

         Following sentencing, Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising the same claims presented on habeas review. The court denied the application for lack of merit in the grounds presented. People v. Hatton, No. 325329 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 18, 2015) (unpublished). Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied in a standard order. People v. Hatton, 498 Mich. 868, 866 N.W.2d 441 (2015).

         Petitioner thereafter filed his federal habeas petition. He raises the following claims:

I. The trial court unlawfully deprived him of his due process, equal protection, and other protected rights under the United States and Michigan Constitutions when it scored 25 points on OV 6; on plain error and/or ineffective assistance of counsel grounds this Court should review this issue.
II. The trial court violated the United States and Michigan Constitutions in sentencing him to a prison term of eight to 22 ½ years on a habitual offender 2d supplement arising out of the manslaughter conviction; on plain error and/or ineffective assistance of counsel grounds this Court should review this issue.

         Respondent has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should be denied because the claims are not cognizable and/or lack of merit. Petitioner has not filed a reply.

         III. Standard of Review

         Federal law imposes the following standard of review for habeas cases:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim -
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the ...

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