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Golden v. Hass

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

June 20, 2017

CORDALE GOLDEN, #690450, Petitioner,
RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.



         I. Introduction

         Michigan prisoner Cordale Golden (“Petitioner”) has filed a pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 asserting that he is being held in violation of his constitutional rights. Petitioner was convicted of armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court and was sentenced as a fourth habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.12, to 10 to 15 years imprisonment in 2012. In his pleadings, Petitioner raises claims concerning the scoring of the sentencing guidelines, the trial court's flight instruction, and the effectiveness of trial counsel in advising him not to testify at trial. For the reasons set forth, the Court denies habeas relief. The Court also denies a certificate of appealability and denies leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         II. Facts and Procedural History

         Petitioner's conviction arises from the armed robbery of a woman outside a gas station in Detroit, Michigan on April 2, 2012. The Michigan Court of Appeals described the underlying facts, which are presumed correct on habeas review, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2009), as follows:

Defendant's conviction arose out of an altercation with the complainant that began at a gas station. The complainant testified that she and two colleagues had stopped at the gas station, and that she had planned to go into the station to buy cigarettes. As she walked toward the station, a man called her over to a tan car parked by the gas pumps. Defendant was seated in the passenger seat of the tan car. He pointed a gun at the complainant and told her to get into the car. The complainant got into the tan car, and the car drove away. The complainant's colleagues followed in their car, because they were unsure of complainant's reason for entering the tan car.
While the complainant was riding in the tan car, defendant demanded all of her cash, amounting to approximately $500. Once defendant had taken the money, the driver of the tan car slowed down. The complainant jumped out of the tan car and got into her colleagues' car. They subsequently flagged down a police car and reported that the complainant had been robbed.
Later, two police officers on routine patrol observed a tan car run a stop sign. The officers activated their police lights and followed the tan car, which then picked up speed, turned, and picked up speed again. The officers eventually stopped the tan car, and the driver ran from the car. The officers retained defendant. Upon searching defendant, the officers found approximately $400 in cash. The officers did not find a gun in the car.

People v. Golden, No. 312542, 2014 WL 2795838, *1 (Mich. Ct. App. June 19, 2014) (unpublished).

         Following his conviction and sentencing, Petitioner filed a motion for resentencing and a motion for a new trial. On the resentencing motion, the trial court ruled that Prior Record Variable 5 was incorrectly scored, ordered that the guidelines be corrected to show that Prior Record Variable 5 be scored at two points (rather than five) and that the guidelines show a range of 51 to 71 months. But the trial court denied resentencing because the sentence was within those guidelines. People v. Golden, No. 12-003725-01-FC (Wayne Co. Cir. Ct. Dec. 28, 2012).

         On the motion for new trial, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing on trial counsel's advice and Petitioner's decision not to testify at trial. Trial counsel testified that Petitioner told him that he had prior convictions involving theft and dishonesty. Because of that, trial counsel advised Petitioner not to testify. Counsel provided additional reasons, including the fact that the victim and witnesses' testimony was inconsistent and could create reasonable doubt; and that Petitioner would be admitting to a drug felony if he went forward with his proposed testimony.

         Counsel also testified that Petitioner was advised that it was ultimately his decision to testify or not, and that Petitioner decided not to testify after their discussion.

         Petitioner testified that he wanted to testify at trial about the drug deal, but that he decided not to do so after counsel advised him that his prior convictions could be used against him. The trial court concluded that counsel was not ineffective and denied the motion for new trial. People v. Golden, No. 12-003725-01-FC (Wayne Co. Cir. Ct. May 24, 2013).

         Petitioner then filed an appeal of right with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising the same claims presented on habeas review. The court denied relief and affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence. Id. at *1-4. Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court; it was denied in a standard order. People v. Golden, 497 Mich. 948, 857 N.W.2d 27 (2014).

         Petitioner filed this Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. It is fully briefed.

         III. Standard of Review

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq., sets forth the standard of review that federal courts must use when considering habeas petitions brought by prisoners challenging their state court convictions. The AEDPA provides in relevant part:

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 Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented ...

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