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Edmonds v. Jackson

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

February 22, 2018

RICARDO W. EDMONDS, Petitioner,
v.
SHANE JACKSON, Respondent.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney 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 will dismiss the petition without prejudice for failure to exhaust available state-court remedies.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Petitioner Ricardo W. Edmonds is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF) in Carson City, Michigan. In 2013, a jury of the Oakland County Circuit Court found Petitioner guilty of aggravated stalking and first-degree home invasion. On August 6, 2013, the court imposed sentences of 21 years and 6 months to 40 years of imprisonment for each offense.

         Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence by opinion dated December 16, 2014. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal on May 28, 2015. In May 2016, Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment in state court under Rule 6.500 of the Michigan Court Rules. The circuit court denied the motion on August 16, 2016. Petitioner subsequently appealed that decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal on May 12, 2017. The Michigan Supreme Court has not entered a decision on his application for leave to appeal.

         II. Exhaustion of State Court Remedies

         Before the Court may grant habeas relief to a state prisoner, the prisoner must exhaust remedies available in the state courts. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999). Exhaustion requires a petitioner to “fairly present” federal claims so that state courts have a “fair opportunity” to apply controlling legal principles to the facts bearing upon a petitioner's constitutional claim. See O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 842; Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275-77 (1971), cited in Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995), and Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 6 (1982). To fulfill the exhaustion requirement, a petitioner must have fairly presented his federal claims to all levels of the state appellate system, including the state's highest court. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66; Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 414 (6th Cir. 2009); Hafley v. Sowders, 902 F.2d 480, 483 (6th Cir. 1990). “[S]tate prisoners must give the state courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the State's established appellate review process.” O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. The district court can and must raise the exhaustion issue sua sponte when it clearly appears that habeas claims have not been presented to the state courts. See Prather v. Rees, 822 F.2d 1418, 1422 (6th Cir. 1987); Allen, 424 F.2d at 138-39. Petitioner bears the burden of showing exhaustion. See Rust v. Zent, 17 F.3d 155, 160 (6th Cir. 1994).

         Petitioner asserts eight claims in his petition. He does not indicate which of them he raised on direct appeal or which of them he raised in his motion for relief from judgment, but at least one of them has not yet been fully exhausted. He asserts that his appellate counsel was ineffective. (Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.3.) This issue could not have been raised i n his dir ect appeal. Petitioner presumably raised this issue in his motion for relief from judgment and is awaiting a decision on that issue from the Michigan Supreme Court. Petitioner must complete the state court process before seeking habeas relief in this Court. The state courts must first be given a fair opportunity to rule upon Petitioner's habeas claims before he can present those claims to this Court. Moreover, federal habeas law requires this Court to determine whether the state court's 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Because the Michigan Supreme Court has not made a final decision on his claims, the Court cannot apply the standard found at 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         Under Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 522 (1982), district courts are directed to dismiss partially exhausted petitions without prejudice in order to allow petitioners to return to state court to exhaust remedies. However, since the habeas statute was amended to impose a one-year statute of limitations on habeas claims, see 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1), dismissal without prejudice often effectively precludes future federal habeas review. This is particularly true after the Supreme Court ruled in Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181-82 (2001), that the limitations period is not tolled during the pendency of a federal habeas petition. As a result, the Sixth Circuit adopted a stay-and-abeyance procedure to be applied to mixed petitions. See Palmer v. Carlton, 276 F.3d 777, 781 (6th Cir. 2002). In Palmer, the Sixth Circuit held that when the dismissal of a mixed petition could jeopardize the timeliness of a subsequent petition, the district court should dismiss only the unexhausted claims and stay further proceedings on the remaining portion until the petitioner has exhausted his claims in the state court. Id.; see also Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 277 (2007) (approving stay-and-abeyance procedure); Griffin v. Rogers, 308 F.3d 647, 652 n.1 (6th Cir. 2002).

         Petitioner's application is subject to the one-year statute of limitations provided in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Under that provision, the one-year limitations period runs from “the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Petitioner appealed his conviction to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court denied his application on May 28, 2015. Petitioner did not petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, though the ninety-day period in which he could have sought review in the United States Supreme Court is counted under § 2244(d)(1)(A). See Bronaugh v. Ohio, 235 F.3d 280, 283 (6th Cir. 2000). The ninety-day period expired on August 26, 2015. Accordingly, absent tolling, Petitioner would have one year from that date to file his habeas petition.

         Petitioner asserts that he filed a motion for relief from judgment on May 20, 2016.[1]The running of the statute of limitations is tolled while “a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). The statute of limitations is tolled from the filing of an application for state post-conviction or other collateral relief until a decision is issued by the state supreme court. Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327 (2007). The statute is not tolled during the time that a petitioner petitions for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Id. at 332.

         Assuming Petitioner's motion for relief from judgment was “properly filed” with the state court, that motion tolled the statute of limitations in § 2244(d) when he had over 80 days[2]remaining in the limitations period. The statute of limitations will continue to be tolled until the Michigan Supreme Court issues a decision. Eighty days is more than enough time to file a new habeas petition with this Court after the Michigan Supreme Court issues its decision. ...


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