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Beagle v. Stewart

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

August 28, 2017

KENNETH R. BEAGLE, Petitioner,
v.
ANTHONY STEWART, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER (1) SUMMARILY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, (2) DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND (3) DENYING PERMISSION TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          Hon. Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge.

         Michigan prisoner Kenneth Beagle, (“Petitioner”), filed this habeas case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner was convicted in 2002 in the Allegan Circuit Court of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and he was sentenced to 25 to 50 years' imprisonment. The petition raises a single claim: Petitioner's constitutional rights were violated by judicial fact-finding in scoring the sentencing guidelines. The Court finds that Petitioner's claim is without merit because it cannot be supported by clearly established Supreme Court law. Therefore, the petition will be summarily denied. The Court will also deny Petitioner a certificate of appealability and deny him permission to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis.

         I. Background

         Following his conviction and sentence Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals, raising claims not pertinent to this action. The Court of Appeals denied the application for lack of merit in the grounds presented. People v. Beagle, No. 247803 (Mich. Ct. App. May 12, 2003). Petitioner's application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court was denied. People v. Beagle, No. 124190 (Mich. Oct. 31, 2003).

         Petitioner then filed his first motion for relief from judgment in the trial court, raising additional claims not present in this action. The trial court denied the motion on May 23, 2005. Petitioner filed a second motion for relief from judgment in the trial court that was denied on August 28, 2013.

         Petitioner filed his third motion for relief from judgment in the trial court, raising one claim: “Pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's ruling of Montgomery v. Louisiana, [136 S.Ct. 718 (2016)], Alleyene v. United States, [133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013)], should be applied retroactively to defendant.” The trial court denied the motion, finding that he was not entitled to retroactive application of those cases. Dkt. 1, App'x A. Petitioner appealed, but the Michigan Court of Appeals found that review of his successive motion for relief from judgment was barred by Michigan Court Rule 6.502(G). People v. Beagle, No. 334201 (Mich. Ct. App. Aug. 29, 2016). The Michigan Supreme Court subsequently denied relief under the same court rule. People v. Beagle, No. 154516 (Mich. Sup. Ct. May 2, 2017).

         II. Standard of Review

         After a petition for habeas corpus is filed, 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 also 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If, after preliminary consideration, the Court determines that the petitioner is not entitled to relief, the Court must summarily dismiss the petition. McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994); Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1999); Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases. No response to a habeas petition is necessary if the petition is frivolous, obviously lacks merit, or if the necessary facts can be determined from the petition itself without considering a response from the State. See Robinson v. Jackson, 366 F.Supp.2d 524, 525 (E.D. Mich. 2005).

         To qualify for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, a habeas petitioner must show that the state court decision on a federal issue “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court, ” or amounted to “an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2); Franklin v. Francis, 144 F.3d 429, 433 (6th Cir. 1998). The analysis of a petitioner's claim is limited to consideration of “the law as it was ‘clearly established' by [Supreme Court] precedents at the time of the state court's decision, '” Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003).

         III. Analysis

         Petitioner claims that the trial judge violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial by using facts not proven beyond a reasonable doubt or admitted by Petitioner to score the offense variables of the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines to determine his minimum sentence range.[1]

         On June 17, 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that any fact that increases the mandatory minimum sentence for a crime is an element of the criminal offense that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. See Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 2155 (2013). Alleyne is an extension of the Supreme Court's holdings in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), where the Supreme Court held that any fact that increases or enhances a penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum for the offense must be submitted to the jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court overruled Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545 (2002), where the Supreme Court held that only factors that increase the maximum sentence, as opposed to the minimum sentence, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to a fact-finder. Alleyne, 133 S.Ct. at 2157-58.

         Petitioner's conviction and sentence became final well before Alleyne was decided, and it was not made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court. See In re Mazzio, 756 F.3d 487, 489-90 (6th Cir. 2014). Because the Supreme Court did not require at the time of Petitioner's conviction that facts which increase a criminal defendant's minimum sentence be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, Petitioner cannot demonstrate entitlement to habeas relief. See Gibson v. Tribley, No. 10-13364, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93404, 2013 WL 3353905, at * 8 (E.D. Mich. July 3, 2013).

         Petitioner asserts that the holding in Mazzio was undermined by Montgomery v. Louisiana. Not so. In Montgomery, the Supreme Court held that Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) (mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders violate the Eighth Amendment), announced a new substantive constitutional rule that applied retroactively to cases on collateral review. Montgomery, 136 S.Ct. at 736. The Court explained that ...


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