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Wilson v. Trierweiler

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

August 29, 2017



          Paul L. Maloney, United States District Judge

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 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.

         Factual Allegations

         Petitioner Kesean Calvin Wilson presently is incarcerated at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility. Petitioner pleaded guilty in the Jackson County Circuit Court to two counts of armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, and one count of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony firearm), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. According to the facts admitted by Petitioner at the plea hearing, Petitioner entered the Jackson City County Credit Union on the morning of October 10, 2012. (Plea. Tr., ECF No. 1-1, PageID.112.) He was armed with a pistol and intended to rob the credit union. (Id., PageID.113.) Petitioner admitted at the plea hearing that he had demanded money from tellers Heather Schorndorf and Karen Garver and that he had placed both in fear.[1] (Id., PageID.112-113.) In addition, Petitioner acknowledged that a bank customer, Charles Bennett, was present at the bank at the time of the robbery. Petitioner admitted that Bennett had money on the counter, which had been withdrawn from Bennett's account, and that Petitioner used his pistol to place Bennett in fear in order to take the money. (Id., PageID.113-114.)

         In exchange for his guilty plea, the prosecution agreed to dismiss a third count of armed robbery, one count of bank robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.531, and one count of third-degree fleeing and eluding, Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.602a(3). On October 31, 2013, the court sentenced Petitioner to two prison terms of 14-30 years on the armed-robbery convictions, to be served consecutively to a term of 2 years on the felony-firearm conviction.

         Petitioner sought leave to appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals, claiming that he was denied his rights to due process when the sentencing court considered an unreliable needs assessment in determining the length of the sentence. Petitioner argued that his motion to withdraw the plea should have been granted, as he was promised a lower sentence in the plea bargain. In an unpublished order issued on July 18, 2014, the court of appeals denied leave to appeal for lack of merit in the grounds presented.

         Petitioner sought leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same issue presented to and rejected by the Michigan Court of Appeals. The supreme court denied leave to appeal on February 3, 2015.

         According to the petition, on January 15, 2016, Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment in the Jackson County Circuit Court. In his motion, Petitioner raised seven claims: (1) the conviction for armed robbery against bank customer Charles Bennett violated double jeopardy, because Bennett did not separately possess monies that were taken in the bank robbery; (2) ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel; (3) violation of due process; (4) illusory plea bargain; (5) trial court's abuse of discretion; (6) prosecutorial misconduct; (6) involuntary guilty plea; and (7) insufficiency of the evidence. The trial court denied the motion on June 2, 2016, and denied reconsideration on September 27, 2016.

         Petitioner sought leave to appeal to both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court, apparently raising the same claims presented in his motion for relief from judgment. In the supreme court, he also added a claim that he is being held in violation of a United States treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Thirteenth Amendment. The Michigan appellate courts denied leave to appeal on October 14, 2016, and July 25, 2017.

         On or about August 7, 2017, [2] Petitioner filed his habeas petition. He raises the following four grounds for relief:

I. Defendant's plea[] was illusory and involuntary in violation of his 5th & 14th Amendments due process rights.
II. Defendant was deprived of his 6th [A]mendment [right] of effective Assi[s]tance of counsel, based on Trial Court's abuse of discretion.
III. Defendant's V Amendment Right was violated when he was convicted of the same offense twice, by way of illusory plea barg[a]in.
IV. Defendant is being held in violation of U.S. Treaty (ICCPR) &XIII Amendment of the U.S.

(Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.6-7, 9-10.)


         This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA). See Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792 (2001). The AEDPA “prevents federal habeas ‘retrials'” and ensures that state court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under the law. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002). The AEDPA has “drastically changed” the nature of habeas review. Bailey v. Mitchell, 271 F.3d 652, 655 (6th Cir. 2001). An application for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person who is incarcerated pursuant to a state conviction cannot be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the adjudication: “(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 upon an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This standard is “intentionally difficult to meet.” Woods v. Donald, 575 U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 1372');">135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         The AEDPA limits the source of law to cases decided by the United States Supreme Court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This Court may consider only the “clearly established” holdings, and not the dicta, of the Supreme Court. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000); Bailey, 271 F.3d at 655. In determining whether federal law is clearly established, the Court may not consider the decisions of lower federal courts. Lopez v. Smith, 135 S.Ct. 1, 3 (2014); Bailey, 271 F.3d at 655. Moreover, “clearly established Federal law” does not include decisions of the Supreme Court announced after the last adjudication of the merits in state court. Greene v. Fisher, 132 S.Ct. 38 (2011). Thus, the inquiry is limited to an examination of the legal landscape as it would have appeared to the Michigan state courts in light of Supreme Court precedent at the time of the state-court adjudication on the merits. Miller v. Stovall, 742 F.3d 642, 644 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Greene, 132 S.Ct. at 44).

         A federal habeas court may issue the writ under the “contrary to” clause if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in the Supreme Court's cases, or if it decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Bell, 535 U.S. at 694 (citing Williams, 529 U.S. at 405-06). “To satisfy this high bar, a habeas petitioner is required to ‘show that the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.'” Woods, 2015 WL 1400852, at *3 (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011)). In other words, “[w]here the ...

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