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Magee v. Brewer

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

June 19, 2017

Patrick O'Neal Magee, Jr., Petitioner,
v.
Shawn Brewer, Respondent.

          UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE ANTHONY P. PATTI

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS [3] AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING THIS CASE

          GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Michigan state prisoner Patrick O'Neal Magee, Jr. (“Petitioner” or “Mr. Magee”) filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Presently before the Court is Petitioner's Motion to Stay Habeas Proceedings and Hold the Petition in Abeyance. The Court GRANTS Petitioner's motion for a stay.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         A jury in the Oakland County Circuit Court convicted the Petitioner of first-degree felony murder (Mich. Comp. Law s § 750.316b). Mr. Magee is currently serving his sentence in the Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. Petitioner filed an appeal of right with the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's convictions. People v. Magee, Jr., No. 325227, 2016 WL 930945 (Mich. Ct. App. March 10, 2016). Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. People v. Magee, Jr., 500 Mich. 868, 885 N.W.2d 277 (2016).

         On April 25, 2017, Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court. Dkt. No. 1. Petitioner asserts: (1) that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was the proximate cause of the victim's death; (2) that the photo line-up was tainted; and (3) that he was deprived of due process because he never had a juvenile sentencing hearing. Id., pp. 5, 7, 8 (Pg. ID 5, 7, 8). Along with his petition, Petitioner also filed a motion to stay the habeas proceedings and hold the petition in abeyance until he has presented a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel to the state trial court. Dkt. No. 3. Petitioner did not present an ineffective-assistance claim on direct appeal. See Dkt. No. 1, pp. 2-3 (Pg. ID 2-3).

         III. LAW & ANALYSIS

         Mr. Magee 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.

         A 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).

         The 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).

         Other 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.

         Other considerations merit granting a stay also. This Court is currently not in a position to determine whether Mr. Magee'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. Magee “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. § 2244(b)(2)'s ...


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