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Wiggins v. Balcarcel

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

February 1, 2018

Eric Bernard Wiggins, Petitioner,
v.
Erick Balcarcel, Respondent.

          Mag. Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford

         OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING THE PETITIONFOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

          JUDITH E. LEVY United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Petitioner filed the petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Michigan prisoner Eric Bernard Wiggins pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual assault (during the commission of a felony), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520b(1)(c), in the Berrien County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 10 to 45 years imprisonment in 2015. In his pleadings, petitioner challenges the validity of his sentence and the state court's application of Michigan's sentencing guidelines.

         Promptly after the filing of a habeas petition, 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 also 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If, after preliminary consideration, the Court determines that the petitioner is not entitled to relief, the Court must summarily dismiss the petition. Id., 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).

         Having conducted the requisite review, the Court finds that petitioner fails to state a claim upon which habeas relief may be granted and dismisses with prejudice the petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The Court also denies a certificate of appealability and denies leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         II. Procedural History

         Following his conviction and sentencing, petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals challenging, in relevant part, his sentence. In lieu of granting the application, the Michigan Court of Appeals remanded the matter to the trial court “for further proceedings consistent with the process set for forth in People v. Lockridge, 498 Mich. 358; 870 N.W.2d 502 (2015), United States v. Crosby, 397 F.3d 103 (CA 2, 2005), and People v. Steanhouse, __ Mich. App.__;__ N.W.2d (2015).” People v. Wiggins, No. 330863, 2016 WL 232311 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 16, 2016) (citation formatting unaltered from original). The Michigan Court of Appeals also directed the trial court to establish a factual basis for certain costs, or to alter that figure if appropriate, and, in all other respects, denied leave to appeal for lack of merit in the grounds presented. Id.

         On remand, the trial court determined that resentencing was not warranted. Petitioner then filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals, which was denied for lack of merit in the grounds presented. People v. Wiggins, No. 334909 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 2, 2016). Petitioner also filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied in a standard order. People v. Wiggins, 500 Mich. 984, 894 N.W.2d 47 (2017).

         Petitioner thereafter filed his pro se federal habeas petition with this Court. He raises the following claim:

The trial court abused its discretion and committed clear error in failing to follow the Court of Appeals decision (Docket No. 330863) remanding this matter for further proceedings consistent with the process set forth in People v. Lockridge, 498 Mich. 358 (2015), United States v. Crosby, 397 F.3d 103 (CA 2, 2005), and People v. Steanhouse, (Court of Appeals Docket No. 318329, October 22, 2015), by denying Defendant resentencing. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion and did not commit clear error in failing to follow the Court of Appeals decision.

         III. Standard of Review

         The provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq., govern this case because petitioner filed his habeas petition after the AEDPA's ...


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