Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Eppes v. Mackie

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

August 21, 2017

JAMES CARNELL EPPES, Petitioner,
v.
THOMAS MACKIE, Respondent.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney, United States District Judge.

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether “it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to “screen out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court concludes that the petition must be dismissed because it fails to raise a meritorious federal claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Petitioner James Carnell Eppes is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Oaks Correctional Facility. Petitioner is serving concurrent sentences of 17 to 45 years and 5 to 10 years, consecutive to a sentence of 2 years, following his August 25, 2014, plea of nolo contendere in the Kent County Circuit Court to charges of armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, felon in possession of a firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.224f, and felony firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. On September 29, 2014, the court sentenced Petitioner.

         Petitioner's charges arose from his alleged participation in a three-man crime spree on January 5, 2014. (Br. in Supp. of Appl. for Leave to Appeal, ECF No. 2-1, PageID.79.) According to the trial court's factual findings, on that date there was a massive snowstorm. (Plea Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 2-1, PageID.57.) Petitioner and his co-defendants, Smith and Brown, were driving around Kent County in a four-wheel drive pick-up. (Id.) They robbed three individuals at gunpoint: Aaron Hoadley, Oscar Gonzalez, and Latarsha Horsley. (Pet'r's Br., ECF No. 2, PageID.24-25.) Petitioner's co-defendants reported that Mr. Brown “actually robbed” Mr. Hoadley while Petitioner was driving; Mr. Smith robbed Mr. Gonzalez while Petitioner was driving; and Petitioner robbed Ms. Horsley while Mr. Smith was driving.[1] (Plea Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 2-1, PageID.60.) Based on that conduct, Petitioner was charged with three counts of armed robbery (one for each victim), one count of felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of felony firearm.

         Petitioner was on his fourth counsel[2] on August 14, 2014, the date scheduled for Petitioner's jury trial. (Plea Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 2-1, PageID.44.) Nonetheless, Petitioner asked the trial court to permit that attorney to withdraw and postpone the trial. The trial court denied the motion. The trial court then explored the status of plea negotiations. The prosecutor offered to dismiss armed robbery counts 2 (relating to Mr. Gonzalez) and 3 (relating to Ms. Horsley), to reduce Petitioner's habitual offender status from fourth offense to third offense, and to stipulate to a guidelines range of 135 to 337 months, if Petitioner would enter a plea on count 1 (relating to Mr. Hoadley), count 4, felony firearm, and count 5, felon in possession of a firearm. (Plea Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 2-1, PageID.15.) Petitioner and his counsel asked for a break to discuss the offer. After a twenty minute break, Petitioner returned to enter his plea.

         The trial court recited the terms of the plea agreement on the record, the parties acknowledged the terms, and the oath was administered to Petitioner. The trial court established Petitioner's ability to read the documents relating to his plea and to understand the proceedings. The court made sure Petitioner understood the nature of the crimes charged and the maximum penalties attendant to each crime. Petitioner acknowledged that he understood the terms of the agreement and that no other promises or inducements had been made. The court then inquired regarding Petitioner's understanding of the rights he would be waiving:

THE COURT: Did you have a chance to review this document called the Advice of Rights Form?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Did you read through it before you signed it?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Did you understand if you entered a plea of either guilty or a plea of no contest you would waive or give up all of these rights?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Do you also understand, and is that your signature on the document?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Did you also fill out, and I'm sorry, did you also review the plea agreement form that I'm holding in my right hand?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: And did it contain all the essential terms that exist between you and the People regarding the resolution of this case?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: And is that your signature in the lower right-hand side?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
* * *
THE COURT: All right. In addition, do you understand, Mr. Eppes, if I accept your plea of guilty, you'll be giving up any claim that the plea is the result of any promise, inducement, or plea agreement, unless I am told what it is here on the record. Do you understand that?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

(Plea Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 2-1, PageID.55-56.) The Michigan Advice of Rights Form ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.