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Rathman v. Woods

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

May 3, 2017

ROBERT RATHMAN, Petitioner,
v.
JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER (1) DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (ECF #1), (2) DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND (3) DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In 2013, Petitioner Robert Rathman was charged in Michigan state court with three crimes, including armed robbery. Instead of proceeding to trial, Rathman reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. The prosecution agreed to drop the armed robbery charge and a sentencing enhancement, and Rathman agreed to plead no contest to two lesser offenses. Rathman and the prosecution further agreed on the record to a specific sentence: 37 to 120 months in prison. At sentencing, the trial court imposed the precise sentence to which Rathman had agreed: 37 to 120 months in prison. Rathman now insists that the sentence violated his Sixth Amendment rights and that he is entitled to federal habeas relief. Rathman is incorrect. Accordingly, for the reasons stated below, the Court DISMISSES Rathman's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. (See ECF #1.)

         I

         On February 23, 2013, Rathman was charged with three felonies in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court: armed robbery, larceny from a person, and carrying a weapon with unlawful intent. (See ECF #10-1 at Pg. ID 79.) Prior to trial, Rathman agreed to plead no contest to the larceny from a person and carrying a weapon with unlawful intent charges, and the prosecution agreed to dismiss the armed robbery charge and a habitual offender sentencing enhancement.[1] (See id.)

         Rathman tendered his plea on December 19, 2013. During the plea hearing, Rathman and the prosecution agreed on the record to a sentence of 37 months to 120 months imprisonment on the larceny from a person charge. (See 12/19/13 Plea Hearing Tr. at 4-5, ECF #10-4 at Pg. ID 149-50.) On January 28, 2014, the state trial court sentenced Rathman based upon the sentencing agreement that Rathman had reached with prosecutors. The court sentenced Rathman to 37 months to 120 months imprisonment on the larceny from a person conviction and a concurrent term of 12 to 60 months imprisonment on the carrying a weapon with unlawful intent conviction in accordance with his plea and sentencing agreement.

         Following Rathman's plea and sentencing, he filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals. In that application, he argued that “the trial court reversibly erred in the scoring of the offense variables [under Michigan's sentencing guidelines] when the facts to support the scoring were not proved to a jury or admitted to by [Rathman]….” (Petition, ECF # 1 at Pg. ID 2, describing claim raised in the Michigan Court of Appeals). The state appellate court denied leave to appeal “for lack of merit in the grounds presented.” People v. Rathman, No. 322832 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 10, 2014) (unpublished). Rathman then filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which remanded for re-sentencing on the larceny in a building case (see footnote 1 above), but did not address that sentence that Rathman challenges here. People v. Rathman, 497 Mich. 1008, 862 N.W.2d 183 (April 28, 2015).

         II

         On June 11, 2015, Rathman filed a petition in this Court seeking a writ of habeas corpus. (See ECF #1.) Rathman claims that the state trial court violated his Sixth Amendment rights when it sentenced him to 37 to 120 months in prison. In Rathman's words:

The trial court reversibly erred in the scoring of the offense variables when the facts to support the scoring were not proved to a jury or admitted to by [him] and based upon the inaccurate scoring [he] was sentenced within a higher cell rendered his sentence an illegal sentence and [he] is therefore entitled to resentencing.

(Id. at 5, Pg. ID 5.)

         III

         28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), imposes the following standard of review for federal 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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