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Davis v. Maclaren

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

July 17, 2017

ERIC ANTHONY DAVIS, Petitioner,
v.
DUNCAN MACLAREN, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING THE HABEAS PETITION, DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          MARK A. GOLDSMITH United States District Judge

         Petitioner Eric Anthony Davis, confined at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan, recently filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Dkt. 1), challenging his Saginaw County convictions for conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, and two firearm offenses. Petitioner's sole ground for habeas relief is that the state trial court erred when it determined that the Michigan Supreme Court's ruling in People v. Lockridge, 870 N.W.2d 502 (Mich. 2015), was procedural and, therefore, did not apply retroactively to Petitioner's case. Because the retroactivity of a state-court decision is an issue for the state court to decide, the Court will dismiss the petition.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Following a jury trial in Saginaw County Circuit Court, Petitioner was found guilty of: conspiracy to commit armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.157a, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529; armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529; assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.84; possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b; and felon in possession of a firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.224f. Pet. ¶ 1; People v. Davis, No. 260597, 2006 WL 2271266, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Aug. 8, 2006). The trial court sentenced Petitioner as a habitual offender to concurrent terms of twenty-one to fifty years in prison for the conspiracy conviction, twenty-nine to fifty years for the robbery conviction, six and a half to fifteen years for the assault conviction, and three to seven and a half years in prison for the felon-in-possession conviction. Pet. ¶ 5; Davis, 2006 WL 2271266, at *1. Petitioner received a consecutive term of two years in prison for the felony-firearm conviction. Davis, 2006 WL 2271266, at *1.

         Petitioner challenged his sentence in an appeal as of right. He argued that the trial court violated Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), when scoring offense variables 7 and 14 of the Michigan sentencing guidelines. He also claimed that his sentence was based on inaccurate information and was disproportionate, and that the trial court punished him for exercising his right to a trial. Davis, 2006 WL 2271266, at *1-3. The Michigan Court of Appeals found no merit in Petitioner's arguments and affirmed his sentence. Id. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal because it was not persuaded to review the issues presented to it. People v. Davis, 723 N.W.2d 864 (Mich. 2006).

         Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment in which he claimed that (i) his sentence was invalid because the trial court relied on facts that he did not admit and that were not determined by a jury; and (ii) he was entitled to a hearing and re-sentencing under Lockridge because the trial court engaged in judicial fact-finding that increased his sentencing range, in violation of his rights under the Sixth Amendment. Pet. ¶ 10. The trial court denied Petitioner's motion after concluding that Petitioner's arguments were not properly before the court because Lockridge was not retroactive. Id. ¶ 11.

         Petitioner appealed the trial court's decision, but the Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal on the basis that Petitioner had failed to establish that the trial court erred in denying his motion. Id. ¶ 12. On December 21, 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal because Petitioner's motion was prohibited by Michigan Court Rule 6.502(G). Id. ¶ 13; People v. Davis, 887 N.W.2d 801 (Mich. 2016).

         On April 17, 2017, Petitioner commenced this action. As noted above, his sole ground for relief is that the state trial court's decision on his request for re-sentencing is an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law because the state court found that the rule of Lockridge was procedural and did not apply retroactively to his case. Pet. ¶¶ 11, 14, and 18.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, 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 in the State court proceeding.

         A decision of a state court is “contrary to” clearly established federal law if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law, or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-406 (2000). An “unreasonable application” occurs when “a state-court decision unreasonably applies the law of [the Supreme Court] to the facts of a prisoner's case.” Id. at 409. A federal habeas court may not “issue the writ simply because ...


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