United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER (1) DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS, (2) DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND
(3) DENYING PERMISSION TO FILE APPEAL IN FORMA
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICTJUDGE.
a habeas case filed by a Michigan prisoner under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. Petitioner Tewana Sullivan was convicted after
she pled guilty but mentally ill in the Wayne Circuit Court
to second-degree murder. Dkt. No. 8-9, pg. 8 (Pg. ID 232).
Under the terms of the plea agreement, the court sentenced
Petitioner to 23 to 50 years in prison. Id. The
petition raises a single claim: the trial court erred in
failing to allow Petitioner to withdraw her guilty plea prior
to sentencing where she did not understand the sentencing
consequences of her plea. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 2). The
Court finds that Petitioner's claim is without merit.
Therefore, the Court will deny her petition. The Court will
also deny Petitioner a certificate of appealability and deny
her leave to appeal in forma pauperis.
was charged with first-degree murder after she killed
66-year-old Cheryl Livy by hitting her in the head numerous
times with a crock pot. Dkt. 8-9 pg. 10 (Pg. ID 234).
28, 2015, Petitioner pled guilty but mentally ill to the
lesser charge of second-degree murder, with a sentence
agreement of 23 to 50 years in prison. Id. at 7-8
(Pg. ID 231-32).
plea hearing the prosecutor stated the terms of the
agreement, including the sentence Petitioner would receive.
Id. at 3 (Pg. ID 227). Defense counsel indicated
that he agreed with the statement, and he indicated: “I
believe it's the understanding of my client's offer,
since I did present that to her not only this morning, but
I've been talking with her personally at the jail on
several occasions since the offer was made.”
Id. at 4 (Pg. ID 228). Petitioner indicated her
desire to enter into the plea agreement. See id.
trial court indicated that it had read the Forensic Center
report on Petitioner's competency and criminal
Ms. Sullivan was given an opportunity for what is called an
independent psychological evaluation or psychiatric
evaluation. Both examiners, both the People's examiner
and the defense examiner found that Ms. Sullivan could not be
found not guilty by reason of insanity. That is to say that
she did not meet the statutory threshold for legal insanity.
However, the defense examiner found based on his review of
medical records and history that Ms. Sullivan had a number of
psychiatric issues problems or diagnoses over a period of
time. Some of which may have been related to neurological
incidents, and that she is mentally ill. And I, I find,
that's Dr. Miller, by a preponderance of the evidence Dr.
Miller's findings to have been persuasive on the issue of
Okay. And, and I should also mention that, that by all
accounts Ms. Sullivan is competent. Competent to stand trial
and competent to plea.
Id. at 5, 7 (Pg. ID 229, 231).
Court then reiterated the terms of the plea agreement:
And that by accepting this offer that you plead guilty but
mentally ill to murder in the second degree, you are agreeing
to the sentence agreement of 23 year to 50 years with the
Michigan Department of Corrections. Your commitment will
stipulate that you are to receive all requisite psychiatric
or other mental health care during your term of
incarceration. But it is a guilty plea and results in a
murder in the second degree conviction which is a life
offense. You understand that?
Id. at 8 (Pg. ID 232).
indicated her understanding. See Id. The court asked
Petitioner whether anyone had promised her anything other
than what was placed on the record, or whether she was
threatened to obtain her plea, and she answered, “No,
sir.” Id. at 9 (Pg. ID 233).
court then advised Petitioner of all the trial rights she
would be waiving by entering her plea, and Petitioner
indicated that she understood and wished to enter the plea.
Id. at 8-11 (Pg. ID ...