United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS , DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING
PERMISSION TO FILE APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge.
John Robinson, a Michigan prisoner, seeks habeas relief under
28 U.S.C. § 2254. After he pleaded no contest in the
Oakland Circuit Court, Robinson was convicted of five counts
of armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, five
counts of commission of a felony with a firearm, Mich. Comp.
Laws § 750.227B, and carrying a concealed weapon, Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.227. He was sentenced to concurrent
terms of 6 to 50 years for each of the armed-robbery
convictions, consecutive 2-year terms for the firearm
convictions, and 9 months to 5 years for the concealed-weapon
conviction. The petition raises a single claim:
Robinson's plea was involuntary because his trial counsel
and the trial court misled him into believing that he could
appeal the denial of pretrial motions following his plea. The
Court finds that Robinson's claim is without merit.
Therefore, the petition will be denied. The Court will also
deny Robinson a certificate of appealability and deny him
leave to appeal in forma pauperis.
convictions arose from a July 29, 2014 robbery at a
Southfield, Michigan hotel. Three of the victims identified
Robinson as one of the assailants. John Culliver testified at
the preliminary examination that on the night of the robbery
he was at the Hawthorn Suites Hotel in Southfield with
several other people. Sometime around midnight, two men
entered the hotel room armed with handguns. Culliver
identified Robinson as one of the two men. Robinson announced
that it was a stick-up, and he directed the occupants to give
them everything they had. Culliver and the other people in
the hotel room gave their possessions to Robinson and his
accomplice. Robinson then struck Culliver on the back of the
head with the butt of his handgun. The two men left, and
someone called 9-1-1. Kejuantaw Matthews testified that he
was also in the hotel room. He identified Robinson and
co-defendant Kalvin Hall as the two robbers. Stevie Harrell
similarly testified to the facts surrounding the robbery, and
he also identified Robinson as one of the assailants.
Police Sergeant Thomas Langewicz testified that on the night
of the robbery, he was conducting a stake-out to investigate
recent armed robberies that occurred at local hotels. He
identified two men in the parking lot of the Hawthorn Suites
Hotel as possible suspects based on prior descriptions of the
robbers. When the two men exited the parking lot in a vehicle
at a high rate of speed, Langewicz pulled his patrol car next
to the suspect vehicle. When the vehicle started to
accelerate through a red light, Langewicz rammed it to
prevent a high-speed pursuit. Hall was in the driver's
seat, and Robinson was in the front passenger seat. Handguns
were subsequently found under their seats.
on this evidence, Robinson was bound over to the state
circuit court for trial on eleven felony counts. Robinson
filed a pro se motion to suppress evidence, claiming that he
was the driver, and that the traffic stop violated his Fourth
Amendment rights. Defense counsel indicated that he could not
support the motion because the police report indicated
Robinson was a passenger, and immediately prior to the stop
there had been a police dispatch regarding the armed robbery
at the hotel. The trial court denied the motion, finding that
Langewicz's observations at the hotel parking lot, in
combination with the police dispatch information, constituted
reasonable suspicion to justify stopping the car.
subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the case because video
evidence from one of the patrol cars had not been preserved.
The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, but indicated
that the failure to record video would be a subject for cross
examination at trial, and that it would consider an
adverse-inference jury instruction.
pleaded no contest to the charged offenses, and in exchange
the prosecutor agreed to a 6-year minimum sentence for the
armed robbery convictions plus a consecutive 2 years for the
firearm charges. The sentencing guidelines called for a
sentence range of 9 to 15 years. ECF 8-5, PgID 164.
was placed under oath. Id. at 166. He testified that
he was 19 years old, and that he could read and write.
Id. He indicated he was satisfied with the advice
his attorney gave him. Id. Robinson acknowledged
that he was pleading no contest to five counts of armed
robbery, five counts of possession of a firearm during
commission of a felony, and carrying a concealed weapon.
Id. at 167. He indicated his understanding that he
could receive up to life in prison. Id. Robinson
understood that the plea agreement called for a 6-year
minimum sentence for the armed robbery convictions plus 2
years for the firearm offenses. Id. He indicated his
desire to accept the agreement. Id.
was then informed of, and agreed to waive, each of his trial
rights. Id. at 167-68. Robinson understood that he
was giving up any claim that his plea was the result of any
promises or threats that were not disclosed at the plea
hearing, and that it was his own choice to plead guilty.
Id. at 168. He understood that any appeal would be
by application for leave to appeal and not by right.
Id. at 168-69. Robinson denied that anyone had
threatened him to get him to plead, and that it was his own
choice to do so. Id. at 169. The Court found that
Robinson's no-contest plea was entered understandingly,
voluntarily, and accurately. Id. at 170.
sentencing hearing, defense counsel informed the court that
Robinson wished to make his plea conditional, to preserve his
pretrial motions for appeal. ECF 8-6, at 174. The prosecutor
indicated that the plea had not been conditional.
Id. The trial court stated that the plea was not
conditional, and there was no basis for withdrawing the plea.
Id. Robinson then personally addressed the court:
"I took this no contest plea under the persuasion that I
could appeal the things that I put on record . . . but taking
a no contest plea . . waives no jurisdiction or defects. It
waives jurisdictional defects and things that I put on a
motion." Id. at 175. The trial court informed
Robinson that he could appeal. Id. The court then
sentenced Robinson based on the terms of the plea agreement
as indicated above.
filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the
Michigan Court of Appeals, raising the following claim:
I. Due process requires plea withdrawal where the trial court
and defense counsel misled defendant to believe he could
further appeal the rulings of the suppression and due process
motions following an unconditional guilty plea.
also filed a motion for peremptory reversal. The Michigan
Court of Appeals denied Robinson's delayed application
"for lack of merit in the grounds presented, " and
denied his motion for peremptory reversal. ECF 8-7,
People v. Robinson, No. 331239 (Mich. Ct. App. April
11, 2016). Robinson then filed an application for leave to
appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claim.
The Michigan Supreme Court denied the application because it
was not ...