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Richardson v. Batts

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

May 17, 2017

HENRY RICHARDSON, Petitioner,
v.
MYRON L. BATTS, Respondent.

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

          HON. MARK A. GOLDSMITH JUDGE

         Petitioner Henry Richardson, currently confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Memphis, Tennessee, filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Dkt. 1), challenging his 1998 convictions for possession of less than fifty grams of cocaine, Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.7401(2)(a)(iv); and possession of less than twenty-five grams of cocaine, Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.7403(a)(5). For the reasons stated below, the Court summarily denies the petition for a writ of habeas corpus with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner pled guilty in the Wayne County Circuit Court to possession with intent to deliver less than fifty grams of cocaine in Case # 97-00554-01-FH, and to possession of less than twenty-five grams of cocaine in Case # 97-004958-01-FH. On October 27, 1998, Petitioner was sentenced to lifetime probation on the possession with intent to deliver less than fifty grams of cocaine conviction, and three years' probation for the possession of cocaine conviction. By his own admission, Petitioner has been discharged from these sentences and is no longer in custody for these convictions. A review of the Wayne County Circuit Court docket sheets shows that Petitioner was discharged from probation in both cases on May 26, 2004, after having been found to have violated the terms of his probation.[1]

         Subsequent to his discharge from probation, Petitioner pleaded guilty in federal court to (i) possession of more than 50 grams of cocaine base with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), as well as aiding and abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2; (ii) possession of more than 500 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), as well as aiding and abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2; and (iii) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), as well as aiding and abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2. Petitioner was sentenced to 300 months on the two federal cocaine charges, and he received a consecutive 60-month sentence on the firearms charge. See United States v. Richardson, No. 2:06-CV-20676 (E.D. Mich.).

         In 2015, Petitioner filed a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment in the state trial court, in which he challenged his two 1998 state-court convictions. The trial court denied the motion. People v. Richardson, No. 97-004958-01-FH, 97-00554-01-FH (Wayne Cty.Cir. Ct. July 15, 2015). The Michigan appellate courts denied Petitioner leave to appeal. People v. Richardson, No. 330551 (Mich. Ct. App. June 15, 2016), leave denied, 888 N.W.2d 99 (Mich. 2017).

         Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds:

i. “The petitioner's guilty plea was based on illegal sentences rendering the guilty plea involuntary and the judgment void in violation of due process.”
ii. “Counsel provided ineffective assistance by having Petitioner agree to illegal sentences in violation of the Petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to effective [assistance of] counsel.”

Pet'r Br. at 5, 11.

         II. ANALYSIS

         The Court denies the habeas petition because the Court lacks jurisdiction over the petition, due to the fact that Petitioner is no longer in custody for his two 1998 state-court convictions.

         The language of 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241(c)(3) and 2254(a) requires that a habeas petitioner be “in custody” under the conviction or sentence under attack at the time that a habeas petition is filed in the federal court. See Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490-491 (1989). A habeas petitioner is no longer “in custody, ” for purposes of a conviction imposed, after the sentence on that conviction has fully expired. Id. at 492-493; see also Clemons v. Mendez, 121 F.Supp.2d 1101, 1102 (E.D. Mich. 2000). The “in custody” requirement is jurisdictional. See Foster v. Booher, 296 F.3d 947, 949 (10th Cir. 2002).

         Petitioner acknowledges that his sentences on his two 1998 drug convictions have expired, but he seeks to challenge them on the ground that the convictions have been used to ...


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