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White v. Mackie

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

December 19, 2017

ROBERT WHITE, Petitioner,
v.
THOMAS MACKIE, Respondent.

          OPINION

          JANET T. NEFF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 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.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Petitioner Robert White is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at Oaks Correctional Facility (ECF) in Manistee, Manistee County, Michigan. On March 19, 2012, Petitioner pleaded guilty in the Tuscola County Circuit Court to first-degree home invasion, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a(2), and resisting and obstructing a police officer, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.81d. On May 7, 2012, the court imposed sentences of 8 years and 10 months to 30 years, and 2 years to 3 years, respectively.

         Petitioner sought leave to appeal to both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court, raising a single issue: whether the sentencing court incorrectly scored 10 points for Offense Variable (OV) 12. The court of appeals denied leave to appeal on November 5, 2014. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal on April 10, 2014, and denied reconsideration on September 5, 2014.

         On June 19, 2015, Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment in the Tuscola County Circuit Court, raising four grounds for relief: (1) an insufficient factual basis supported his guilty plea; (2) he was denied his right to an attorney of his choice; (3) OV 12 should have been scored at zero points; and (4) OV 19 should have been scored at zero points. In an opinion and order issued on August 24, 2015, the trial court denied relief from judgment. Petitioner sought leave to appeal to both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. Those courts denied leave to appeal on July 25, 2016, and June 27, 2017, respectively.

         On October 19, 2017, Petitioner filed his habeas corpus petition. Under Sixth Circuit precedent, the application is deemed filed when handed to prison authorities for mailing to the federal court. Cook v. Stegall, 295 F.3d 517, 521 (6th Cir. 2002). Petitioner signed his application on October 19, 2017. (Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.12.) The petition was received by the Court on October 23, 2017. For purposes of this Opinion, I have given Petitioner the benefit of the earliest possible filing date. See Brand v. Motley, 526 F.3d 921, 925 (6th Cir. 2008) (holding that the date the prisoner signs the document is deemed under Sixth Circuit law to be the date of handing to officials) (citing Goins v. Saunders, 206 F. App'x 497, 498 n.1 (6th Cir. 2006)).

         The petition raises two grounds for relief, as follows:

I. WHETHER PETITIONER WAS DENIED HIS SIXTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT RIGHT[S] TO COUNSEL OF HIS CHOICE.
II. WHETHER THERE IS A FACTUAL BASIS TO SUPPORT PLEA OF GUILTY TO OBSTRUCTING/RESISTING A POLICE OFFICER.

(Pet., ECF No.1, PageID.4, 6.)

         II. AEDPA standard

         This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA). 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). 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 ...


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