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Bowman v. Haas

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

September 7, 2017

MICHAEL BOWMAN, #771568, Petitioner,
v.
RANDALL HAAS, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

          Paul D. Borman, United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         This is a habeas case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Michigan prisoner Michael Bowman (“Petitioner”) pleaded no contest to armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, in the Gladwin County Circuit Court in 2013 and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years imprisonment in 2014. In his petition, he raises claims concerning the validity of his plea and the effectiveness of defense counsel. For the reasons set forth, the Court denies and dismisses with prejudice the habeas petition. The Court also denies a certificate of appealability and denies leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         II. Facts and Procedural History

         Petitioner's conviction arises from his armed robbery of a gun store with two co-defendants in Gladwin County, Michigan on March 18, 2013. The record reveals that Petitioner drove the co-defendants to the store where they intended to use pepper spray to facilitate the robbery. When one of the co-defendants realized he forgot the pepper spray, he used a hammer to hit the store owner in the head, causing severe injury. That co-defendant took several handguns and left the store. Petitioner picked him up and drove from the scene. The other co-defendant remained in the store and called 911 for the injured store owner before she left the scene. 11/13/13 Parties' Offer of Proof.

         On November 13, 2013, Petitioner pleaded no contest to armed robbery in exchange for the dismissal of additional charges (assault with intent to murder, conspiracy, and felony firearm), a promise not to seek an habitual offender sentencing enhancement, and an agreement for a sentence within the guidelines. At the plea hearing, Petitioner acknowledged that he understood the terms of his plea, the maximum sentences that he could face, and the rights that he was giving up by pleading guilty. Petitioner also confirmed that it was his choice to plead no contest, that he was doing so freely and voluntarily, and that he had not been threatened or promised anything else in exchange for his plea. 11/13/13 Plea Hrg, pp. 5-9.

         Before sentencing, Petitioner filed a motion to withdraw his plea asserting that he felt coerced by defense counsel into accepting the plea bargain. On January 13, 2014, the trial court conducted a hearing and denied the motion. 1/13/14 Motion/Sent. Hrg., pp. 15-20. In doing so, the court found that there was “no undue pressure or anything improper going on” with respect to the plea. Id. at p. 17. The court then sentenced Petitioner to 15 to 30 years imprisonment with credit for time served. Id. at pp. 30-31.

         Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals raising the following claim:

The trial court abused its discretion and violated Petitioner's state and federal constitutional due process guarantees when it denied his request to withdraw his no contest plea before sentencing where Petitioner maintained his innocence and where trial counsel had been ineffective because Petitioner felt pressured and threatened by his attorney to accept a plea agreement.

         The court denied the application “for lack of merit in the grounds presented.” People v. Bowman, No. 322650 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 5, 2014). Petitioner also filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied in a standard order. People v. Bowman, 497 Mich. 973, 859 N.W.2d 703 (2015).

         Petitioner thereafter filed his federal habeas petition raising the same claim presented to the state courts on direct appeal of his conviction. Respondent has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should be denied for lack of merit.

         III. Standard of Review

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq., sets forth the standard of review that federal courts must use when considering ...


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