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Pierson v. Stephenson

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

January 26, 2018

RAYMOND CHARLES PIERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE STEPHENSON, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING WITHOUT PREJUDICE THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

          TERRENCE G. BERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Michigan prisoner Raymond Charles Pierson (“Petitioner”) has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his state criminal proceedings. Dkt. 1. Following a 2012 jury trial in the Washtenaw County Circuit, Petitioner was convicted of first-degree home invasion, felon in possession of firearm, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, second offense, and resisting and obstructing a police officer. Dkt. 1 at Pg ID 53. In March, 2012, Petitioner was sentenced as a fourth habitual offender to 10 to 25 years imprisonment on the home invasion conviction, concurrent terms of 1 to 5 years imprisonment on the felon in possession and resisting and obstructing convictions, and a consecutive term of 5 years imprisonment on the felony firearm conviction. Id. The Washentnaw Circuit County Court denied Petitioner's subsequent Motion for Relief from Judgment in September 2015. Dkt. 1 at Pg ID 53-71. In this petition, which was filed on May 30, 2017, Petitioner claims that 1) his trial counsel was ineffective, Dkt. 1 at Pg ID 6, 38; 2) the prosecutor engaged in misconduct, Dkt. 1 at Pg ID 35, 48; and 3) the trial court erred in denying his suppression motion and admitting his police statements. Dkt. 1 at Pg ID 41, 44.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court DISMISSES the petition for a writ of habeas corpus without prejudice. The Court also DENIES a certificate of appealability and leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         II. Analysis

         a) Petitioner has not established that he has properly exhausted his state court remedies

         A prisoner must first exhaust all state remedies before filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §2254. See O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999)(“[S]tate prisoners must give the state courts one full fair opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the State's established appellate review process”); Rust v. Zent, 17 F.3d 155, 160 (6th Cir. 1994). The petitioner has the burden of proving exhaustion. Rust, 17 F.3d at 160.

         For Michigan prisoners, proper exhaustion of state remedies requires presenting both the factual and legal bases for any constitutional claims in state court. McMeans v. Brigano, 228 F.3d 674, 681 (6th Cir. 2000); see also Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 806 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing McMeans). Petitioners must also raise these claims as federal constitutional issues in the state court proceedings. Koontz v. Glossa, 731 F.2d 365, 368 (6th Cir. 1984) And they must raise them at all levels of the state courts-meaning on appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals and on subsequent appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. Hafley v. Sowders, 902 F.2d 480, 483 (6th Cir. 1990); Welch v. Burke, 49 F.Supp.2d 992, 998 (E.D. Mich. 1999).

         Petitioner is only entitled to habeas relief if he can show the state court adjudication of his claims 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. Witzke v. Bell, No. 07-CV-15315, 2007 WL 4557674 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 20, 2007); Harris v. Prelisnik, No. 06-CV-15472, 2006 WL 3759945 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 20, 2006).

         Here, Petitioner had an appeal pending in the Michigan Court of Appeals at the time he filed this petition challenging the state trial court's denial of his motion for relief from judgment for his current conviction. See People v. Pierson, No. 332500 (Mich. Ct. App. Aug. 29, 2016) (granting delayed application for leave to appeal as to Issue II of the application);[1] see also App. Dkt. Sheet, Mich. Ct. App. No. 332500 (open case awaiting appellate decision as to Issue II).[2]

         The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's denial of the motion for relief from judgment. People v. Pierson, No. 332500, 2017 WL 4015789 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept 12. 2017). Petitioner now has an application for leave to appeal pending in the Michigan Supreme Court. See App. Dkt. Sheet, Mich. Sup. Ct. No. 156720 (open case awaiting decision). Regardless of whether Petitioner's pending appeal for relief from judgment raises the same constitutional claims as this petition, that appellate proceeding may result in the reversal of Petitioner's conviction and moot his constitutional claims presented here. See Humphrey v. Scutt, No. 08-CV-14605, 2008 WL 4858091, *1 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 5, 2008) (citing Sherwood v. Tomkins, 716 F.2d 632, 634 (9th Cir.1983), and Woods v. Gilmore, 26 F.Supp.2d 1093, 1095 (C.D. Ill. 1998)); Szymanski v. Martin, 99-CV-76196-DT, 2000 WL 654916 (E.D. Mich. April 13, 2000). A non-prejudicial dismissal of the petition is warranted under such circumstances.

         b) No. stay pending the outcome of Petitioner's state court appeal

         A federal district court has discretion to stay a mixed habeas petition, containing both exhausted and unexhausted claims, to allow a petitioner to present unexhausted claims to the state courts and then return to federal court on a perfected petition where 1) petitioner had good cause for failing to exhaust his claims in state court; 2) those unexhausted claims were meritorious; and 3) the petitioner did not engage in intentionally dilatory tactics. Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 276 (2005).

         Petitioner does not request a stay, nor do his circumstances justify one. Stay and abeyance is available only in “limited circumstances” such as when the one-year statute of limitations for filing federal habeas acts poses a concern, or when the petitioner demonstrates “good cause” for the failure to exhaust state remedies and has not brought meritless claims or engaged in dilatory tactics. Rhines, 544 U.S. at 277-78. In Rhines, for example, the Court determined a stay of a habeas action was appropriate where outright ...


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