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Clay v. Haas

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

May 25, 2017

JEREMY WESLEY CLAY, Petitioner,
v.
RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.

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

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Jeremy Wesley Clay, (“petitioner”), confined at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven, Michigan, seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his pro se application, petitioner challenges his conviction for several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. For the reasons stated below, the application for a writ of habeas corpus is SUMMARILY DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was convicted after a jury trial in the Shiawassee County Circuit Court. Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. People v. Clay, No. 314681, 2014 WL 2880301 (Mich. Ct. App. June 24, 2014); lv. Den. 497 Mich. 905 (2014).

         Petitioner filed a state petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to M.C.R. 3.303(A)(2), which was denied. Clay v. Washington, No. 16-H-31714-AH (Ionia Cty. Cir. Ct. Jan. 20, 2016). Petitioner then filed a complaint for writ of habeas corpus with the Michigan Court of Appeals, which was denied. Clay v. Department of Corrections/Director, No. 332573 (Mich.Ct.App. July 21, 2016); reconsideration den. No. 332573 (Mich.Ct.App. Aug. 25, 2016). Petitioner's application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court was rejected as untimely. See Letter from Inger Z. Meyer, Deputy Clerk of the Michigan Supreme Court, attached to the petition for writ of habeas corpus.

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

Should the state courts allow a criminal conviction to stand, where the trial court erred in allowing (knowingly permitting) one juror to answer for another juror during the polling of the jury, in order to secure a conviction that would have otherwise ended in mistrial.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The instant petition is subject to dismissal because petitioner's claim was not properly exhausted with the state courts.

         As a general rule, a state prisoner seeking federal habeas relief must first exhaust his available state court remedies before raising a claim in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) and (c). See Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275-78 (1971). Federal district courts must dismiss habeas petitions which contain unexhausted claims. See Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 230 (2004)(citing Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 510, 522 (1982)). The failure to exhaust state court remedies may be raised sua sponte by a federal court. See Benoit v. Bock, 237 F.Supp.2d 804, 806 (E.D. Mich. 2003); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(3).

         Petitioner indicates that he raised his jury polling claim in his state petition for writ of habeas corpus. This is insufficient to satisfy the exhaustion requirement. Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.4310(3) states that an action for writ of habeas corpus may not be brought by or on behalf of persons convicted, or in execution, upon legal process, civil or criminal. This statutory prohibition is consistent with the rule under Michigan law that habeas corpus cannot serve as a substitute for an appeal and cannot be used to review the merits of a criminal conviction. Cross v. Department of Corrections, 103 Mich.App. 409, 414-415; 303 N.W.2d 218 (1981)(citing People v. Price, 23 Mich.App. 663, 669; 179 N.W.2d 177 (1970)). A writ of habeas corpus in Michigan deals only with radical defects which render a judgment or proceeding absolutely void. Triplett v. Deputy Warden, 142 Mich.App. 774, 780; 371 N.W.2d 862 (1985)(citing to In Re Stone, 295 Mich. 207; 294 N.W. 156 (1940)). A judgment which is merely erroneous, rather than void, is subject to [appellate] review and may not be collaterally attacked in a habeas proceeding. Id. This policy of limiting habeas proceedings in Michigan is “premised on the concern that such an action may be abused and substituted for normal appellate proceedings.” Walls v. Director of Institutional Services Maxie Boy's Training School, 84 Mich.App. 355, 357; 269 N.W.2d 599 (1978). This line of cases is also consistent with M.C.R. 6.501, which states that unless otherwise specified, a judgment of conviction and sentence entered by the circuit or Recorder's court that is not subject to appellate review under subchapters 7.200 or 7.300 may be reviewed only in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter, i.e., by the filing of a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment. The 1989 Staff Comment to M.C.R. 6.501 states that subchapter 6.500 “provides the exclusive means to challenge a conviction in Michigan courts for a defendant who has had an appeal by right or by leave, who has unsuccessfully sought leave to appeal, or who is unable to file an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals” because the time period for filing such an appeal has elapsed. (emphasis added). Because Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.4310(3) does not permit the use of a state habeas action to challenge the legality of a conviction, petitioner did not satisfy the exhaustion requirement by challenging his conviction in such an action. See Nabors v. Warden, U.S. Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pa., 848 F.2d 192 (Table), 1988 WL 50635, * 1 (6th Cir. May 23, 1988); See also McPharlin v. Woods, No. 2008 WL 4534234, * 1 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 6, 2008).

         Petitioner can thus properly exhaust his claim by filing a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment with the Shiawassee County Circuit Court under Michigan Court Rule 6.500, et. seq. See Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 419 (6th Cir. 2009). Denial of a motion for relief from judgment is reviewable by the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court upon the filing of an application for leave to appeal. M.C.R. 6.509; M.C.R. 7.203; M.C.R. 7.302. See Nasr v. Stegall, 978 F.Supp. 714, 717 (E.D. Mich. 1997).

         Petitioner has failed to exhaust his state court remedies and may still have an available state court remedy with which to do so. Although a district court has the discretion to stay a mixed habeas petition containing both exhausted and unexhausted claims to allow the petitioner to present his unexhausted claims to the state court in the first instance, See Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269 (2005), in this case, a stay of petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus would be inappropriate, because petitioner's sole claim is unexhausted and thus, the Court lacks jurisdiction over the petition while the petitioner pursues his claim in state court. See Raspberry v. Garcia, 448 F.3d 1150, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006)(declining to extend the stay and abeyance procedure enunciated in Rhines when the habeas petition contains only unexhausted claims); See also Meyer v. Warren, 2006 WL 2644991, * 3 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 14, 2006).

         III. ...


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