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Watkins v. Smith

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

January 12, 2018

ANTONIO WATKINS, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIE SMITH, Respondent,

          OPINION AND ORDER HOLDING IN ABEYANCE THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING THE CASE.

          HONORABLE SEAN F. COX UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Antonio Watkins, (“Petitioner”), confined at the Ionia Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan, filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his conviction for second-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.317, carrying a concealed weapon, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227, felon in possession of a firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.224f, and felony-firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b. Respondent filed an answer to the petition for writ of habeas corpus. As part of the answer, Respondent argues that Petitioner's ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims are procedurally defaulted because appellate counsel abandoned the claims on appeal by failing to cite to any caselaw or make any argument in support of the claims. In his reply brief, Petitioner argues that any default should be excused because of the ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. Petitioner, however, has yet to exhaust any ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim in the state courts. In lieu of dismissing the petition without prejudice, the petition is held in abeyance and the proceedings are stayed under the terms outlined in this opinion to permit Petitioner to exhaust his ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim.

         I. Background

         Petitioner was convicted following a jury trial in the Genesee County Circuit Court.

         Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. People v. Watkins, No. 321591 (Mich.Ct.App. Sep. 15, 2015); lv. den. 499 Mich. 915, 877 N.W.2d 734 (2016).

         Petitioner has now filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, seeking relief on the following grounds:

I. Is Mr. Watkins entitled to a new trial, where trial counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance in violation of the United States and Michigan Constitutions[?]
II. The evidence was insufficient to support the verdict of second degree murder.
III. Prosecutorial misconduct deprived Mr. Watkins of his due process right to [a] fair trial.
IV. The government failure to investigate and analyze evidence deprived Mr. Watkins of due process and a fair trial.
V. The trial court abused its discretion when it denied the defendants speedy trial motion erroneously, thereby denying the defendant a clearly establish[ed] constitutional right.
VI. The defendant was deprived of his liberty without due process of law where the felony complaint and felony warrant are both drafted in conclusion language, amounting to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction by the court to try the defendant.

         II. Discussion

         Petitioner argues that any procedural default of his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims should be excused because of appellate counsel's ineffectiveness.[1] Petitioner, ...


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