United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
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
D. Borman, United States District Judge
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.
Facts and Procedural History
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Standard of Review
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 ...