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Beeler v. Campbell

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

June 29, 2017

MICHAEL BEELER, #219411, Petitioner,
v.
SHERMAN CAMPBELL, 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

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Michigan prisoner Michael Beeler (“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. The petitioner pleaded no contest to armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, and impersonating a peace officer, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.215(3), in the Oakland County Circuit Court and was sentenced, as a fourth habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.12, to concurrent terms of 15 to 50 years imprisonment and 4 to 15 years imprisonment in 2014. In his pleadings, he raises claims concerning the voluntariness of his plea and the effectiveness of trial counsel, and the trial court's plea colloquy. 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

         The petitioner's convictions arise from his armed robbery of a man while pretending to be a police officer in Oakland County, Michigan on February 10, 2014. The petitioner approached the victim who was sitting in his parked truck on the street in front of his girlfriend's house. The petitioner told the victim that he was a police officer, questioned the victim about someone he claimed to be looking for, made the victim exit his car while armed with a gun, searched the victim, and took the victim's wallet, money, and cell phone before driving away in a van. The victim contacted the police. See 3/6/14 Prelim. Exam Tr., pp. 6-14. The police traced the victim's cell phone to a bar, where they arrested the petitioner. The police found the victim's cell phone and a small amount of money in the petitioner's van. See Pet. App. Brf., p. 4.

         On August 11, 2014, the petitioner pleaded no contest to armed robbery and impersonating a peace officer in exchange for an amendment to the habitual information with a sentencing agreement for a minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment instead of the required 25-year minimum sentence. See 8/11/14 Plea Hrg. Tr., pp. 3-11. On September 3, 2014, the trial court sentenced him, as a fourth habitual offender, to concurrent terms of 15 to 50 years imprisonment and 4 to 15 years imprisonment in accordance with that agreement. See 9/3/14 Sent. Hrg. Tr., p. 8.

         The petitioner subsequently moved to withdraw his plea asserting that he was innocent, that the incident was a drug transaction, and that his attorney failed to investigate his case and coerced him into taking a plea. He also asserted that the trial court did not obtain a reason for the no contest plea and failed to advise him of the maximum sentences for each of the offenses. The trial court conduct a hearing and denied the motion. See 3/18/15 Motion Hrg.; People v. Beeler, No. 14-249469-FC (Oakland Co. Cir. Ct. March 18, 2015). The petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals, which was denied for lack of merit in the grounds presented. People v. Beeler, No. 326736 (Mich. Ct. App. May 19, 2015). The petitioner also filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied in a standard order. People v. Beeler, 498 Mich. 887, 869 N.W.2d 607 (2015).

         The petitioner thereafter filed his federal habeas petition. He raises the following claims:

I. Plea was rendered involuntary and unknowing due to ineffective assistance of counsel.
II. Trial court failed to advise him of maximum sentence for each offense.

         The respondent has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should be denied for lack of merit. The petitioner filed a reply to that answer asserting that he is entitled to relief on his claims.

         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 ...

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