United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Stephanie Dawkins Davis United States Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER HOLDING IN ABEYANCE THE PETITION
FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING THE
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Keeth, (“Petitioner”), confined at the Cotton
Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan, filed a pro
se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his convictions for two
counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp.
Laws § 750.520b(1)(A), and one count of second-degree
criminal sexual conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.520c(1)(A). Mr. Keeth filed a motion to hold the petition
in abeyance to permit him to return to the state courts to
present additional claims that have not been exhausted with
the state courts and that are not included in his current
habeas petition. Dkt. No. 3.
Court holds the petition in abeyance and stays the
proceedings under the terms outlined in this opinion to
permit petitioner to return to the state courts to exhaust
his additional claims. The Court administratively closes the
was convicted following a bench trial in the Wayne County
Circuit Court. Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on
appeal. People v. Keeth, 2014 WL 6089165 (Mich. Ct.
App. Nov. 13, 2014); see also 499 Mich. 982, 882
N.W.2d 137 (2016) (denying Petitioner's application for
leave to appeal the Michigan Court of Appeals' November
13, 2014 judgment).
March 22, 2017, Mr. Keeth filed his application for writ of
habeas corpus.Petitioner seeks habeas relief on
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel grounds, which he raised in
the state courts on his direct appeal. Id.
Keeth filed a motion to hold the habeas petition in abeyance
so that he can return to the state courts to raise claims
that have not been exhausted with the state courts and which
are not included in the current petition.
federal district court is authorized to stay fully exhausted
federal habeas petitions pending the exhaustion of other
claims in the state courts. See Nowaczyk v. Warden, New
Hampshire State Prison, 299 F.3d 69, 77-79 (1st Cir.
2002) (holding that district courts should “take
seriously any request for a stay.”); Anthony v.
Cambra, 236 F.3d 568, 575 (9th Cir. 2000); See also
Bowling v. Haeberline, 246 F.App'x. 303, 306 (6th
Cir. 2007) (holding that a court is entitled to delay
deciding a habeas petition that contains exhausted claims
“when considerations of comity and judicial economy
would be served.”) (quoting Nowaczyk, 299 F.3d
at 83); See also Thomas v. Stoddard, 89 F.Supp.3d
937, 943 (E.D. Mich. 2015) (Michelson, J.). Indeed, although
there is no bright-line rule that a district court can never
dismiss a fully-exhausted habeas petition because of the
pendency of unexhausted claims in state court, in order for a
federal court to justify departing from the “heavy
obligation to exercise jurisdiction, ” there must be
some compelling reason to prefer a dismissal over a stay.
Nowaczyk, 299 F.3d at 82; See also Bowling,
246 F.App'x. at 306 (district court erred in dismissing
petition containing only exhausted claims, as opposed to
exercising its jurisdiction over petition, merely because
petitioner had independent proceedings pending in state court
involving other claims).
Court grants Petitioner's motion to hold the petition in
abeyance while he returns to the state courts to exhaust. The
outright dismissal of the petition, albeit without prejudice,
might result in preclusion of consideration of the
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).
See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). A common
circumstance calling for abating a habeas petition arises
when the original petition was timely filed, but a second,
exhausted habeas petition would be time barred by the
AEDPA's statute of limitations. See Hargrove v.
Brigano, 300 F.3d 717, 720-21 (6th Cir. 2002).
considerations merit holding the petition in abeyance while
petitioner returns to the state courts to exhaust his new
claims. In particular, “the Court considers the
consequences to the habeas petitioner if it were to proceed
to adjudicate the petition and find that relief is not
warranted before the state courts ruled on unexhausted
claims. In that scenario, should the petitioner subsequently
seek habeas relief on the claims the state courts rejected,
he would have to clear the high hurdle of filing a second
habeas petition.” Thomas, 89 F.Supp.3d at 942
(citing 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)). Moreover, “[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.” Id.
considerations merit granting a stay also. This Court is
currently not in a position to determine whether Mr.
Keeth's new claims have any merit, thus, the Court cannot
say that petitioner's claims are “plainly
meritless.” Thomas, 89 F.Supp.3d at 943. Nor,
on the other hand, can the Court at this time say that
petitioner's new claims plainly warrant habeas relief.
Id. If the state courts deny post-conviction relief,
this Court would still benefit from the state courts'
adjudication of these claims in determining whether to permit
petitioner to amend his petition to add these claims.
Id. Finally, this Court sees no prejudice to
respondent in staying this case, whereas Mr. Keeth
“could be prejudiced by having to simultaneously fight
two proceedings in separate courts and, as noted, if this
Court were to rule before the state courts, [petitioner]
would have the heavy burden of satisfying 28 U.S.C. §
requirements” should he seek habeas relief on his new
claims. Thomas, 89 F.Supp.3d at 943.
even where a district court determines that a stay is
appropriate pending exhaustion, the district court
“should place reasonable time limits on a
petitioner's trip to state court and back.”
Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 278 (2005). To ensure
that there are no delays by petitioner in exhausting state
court remedies, this Court imposes time limits within which
petitioner must ...