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Bassett v. Woods

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

June 29, 2017

MICHAEL DAVID BASSETT, Petitioner,
v.
JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent.

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

          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Michigan prisoner Michael David Bassett (“Petitioner”), through counsel, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus asserting that he is being held in violation of his constitutional rights. Petitioner pleaded guilty to assault with intent to murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.83, and first-degree home invasion, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a(2), in the St. Clair County Circuit Court and was sentenced, as a second habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.10, to consecutive terms of 281 months to 70 years imprisonment and 118 months to 30 years imprisonment in 2011. In his pleadings, he asserts that his plea was involuntary and illusory, that the trial court violated due process by refusing to allow him to withdraw his plea, and that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise such federal issues on appeal. For the reasons stated, the Court denies the petition for a writ of habeas corpus. 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 convictions arise from an incident on September 21, 2010 in which he entered the St. Clair County home of his children's mother without permission, armed himself with a hatchet from her garage, and brutally assaulted her in an effort to kill her. On March 8, 2011, Petitioner pleaded guilty as charged to assault with intent to murder and first-degree home invasion, as well as his second habitual offender status. In exchange, the prosecution agreed not to seek consecutive sentencing and not to seek to exceed the guidelines. During the plea colloquy, the trial court told Petitioner that he could not be sentenced that day because his sentence would be determined after a review of the sentencing guidelines and the pre-sentence reports. The court advised Petitioner that no one could promise him what his sentence would be, that the court would not accept a guilty plea conditioned upon a specific sentence, and that he would not be able to withdraw his plea simply because his sentence was different from what someone suggested. Petitioner indicated that he understood such matters. Plea Hrg. Tr., pp. 5-6. The court also advised Petitioner of the maximum sentences that he faced and that the court was not making any promises as to sentencing other than to be fair and follow the law. Petitioner again acknowledged his understanding. Id. at pp. 8, 11.

         On April 11, 2011, the trial court sentenced Petitioner, as a second habitual offender, within the guidelines to consecutive terms of 281 months to 70 years imprisonment on the assault with intent to murder conviction and to 118 months to 30 years imprisonment on the first-degree home invasion conviction. The court indicated that it was imposing consecutive sentences due to the brutality and nature of the crime and its impact on the victim, her children, and the families of both parties. Sent. Hrg. Tr., pp. 11-15.

         Petitioner, through appellate counsel, subsequently moved to withdraw his plea asserting that he should be allowed to do so because the parties had a Killebrew agreement that he would not be given consecutive sentences but the court did not sentence him in accordance with that agreement. Following a hearing on September 6, 2011, the trial court denied Petitioner's motion. Motion Hrg. Tr., pp. 6-8. Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising the same claim, which was denied for lack of merit in the grounds presented. People v. Bassett, No. 306305 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 23, 2011) (unpublished). Petitioner also filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied in a standard order. People v. Bassett, 810 N.W.2d 570 (Mich. 2012).

         Petitioner subsequently filed a motion for relief from judgment with the state trial court asserting that his plea was involuntary and illusory and that appellate counsel was ineffective. The trial court denied the motion pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D)(2) and on the merits finding that the prosecutor complied with the terms of the plea agreement, that the plea was knowing and voluntary and that appellate counsel was not ineffective. People v. Bassett, No. W:10-002520-FC (St. Clair Co. Cir. Ct. March 19, 2014). Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals which was denied pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D)(2). People v. Bassett, No. 323437 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 14, 2014). Petitioner also filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D). People v. Bassett, 866 N.W.2d 428 (Mich. 2015).

         Petitioner thereafter filed his federal habeas petition raising the same claims that he presented to the state courts on collateral review. Respondent has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should be denied for lack of merit.

         III. Standard of Review

         Federal law imposes the following standard of review for habeas cases:

         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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