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Wood v. Mackie

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

February 26, 2018

GARNER WOOD, Petitioner,
v.
THOMAS MACK1E, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS.

          HONORABLE NANCY G. EDMUNDS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Garner Wood, ("Petitioner"), confined at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee, Michigan, filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in which he challenges his sentence on one count of second-degree murder, M.C.LA. § 750.317. For the reasons that follow, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.

         I. Background

         Petitioner's conviction stems from his involvement in the intentionally setting of a fire at an apartment complex in September of 2005. The fire caused the death of a 25-year old woman and her 7-year old daughter. The intent of the fire was to "flush out" Gregory Baines from the apartment. The fire did not kill Baines, who was gunned down the following day at a local night club. Petitioner was charged with the shooting of Gregory Baines and Curtis Wade in a separate case, No. 08-22538-FC. Due to evidentiary issues, the prosecutor later brought charges for the conspiracy, first degree felony murder, second degree murder, and arson of a dwelling house in a separate case which is now before this Court. Petitioner accepted a plea in both cases.

         Prior to Petitioner's no contest plea to one count of second degree murder (now before this Court), Petitioner entered a guilty plea on March 1, 2013, in Case Number 08-22538-FC, to second degree murder for the shooting deaths of Gregory Baines and Curtis Wade. He was sentenced pursuant to a Cobb's [1] agreement within the manslaughter sentencing guideline range to a minimum term of 100 months and a maximum term of 22 years, with credit for 1930 days.

         In the case now before this Court, Petitioner entered a no contest plea on June 5, 2013, to one count of second degree murder, in exchange for the dismissal of the original charges brought against him. (T. 6/5/2013, pp. 3, 11-13). Petitioner also entered into an agreement with the Court where the maximum sentence would not exceed twenty-two years in prison. (Id. at pp. 10, 12, 16). The Court sentenced Petitioner on June 26, 2013, to a minimum of 14 and 2/3 years to 22 years in prison with credit for 1002 days, to run concurrently with Case Number 08-22538-FC. (T. 6/26/2013, p. 24). On the minimum sentence, the Court departed downward from the guideline range, indicating that Petitioner's cooperation in this and other cases lead to "the apprehension of nearly three dozen individuals involved in the so called Pierson Hood." (Id. at pp. 24-25).

         On December 23, 2013, Petitioner through appellate counsel filed a delayed application for leave to appeal alleging that "The trial court erred by denying the additional days of jail credit." Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. People v. Wood, No. 319741 (Mich.Ct.App. Jan. 24, 2014); Iv. den. 847 N.W.2d 625 (Mich. 2014).

         On July 7, 2015, Petitioner, through counsel, filed a motion for relief from judgment raising his jail credit claim and claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. Petitioner's post-conviction motion for relief from judgment was denied. People v. Wood, No. 12- 30814-FC (Genesee County Cir. Ct., Aug. 25, 2015). The Michigan appellate courts denied Petitioner leave to appeal. People v. Wood, No. 329237 (Mich.CtApp. Dec. 21, 2015); Iv. den. 877 N.W.2d 884 (2016). Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus on the following grounds:

I. The trial court erred by finding it did not have the discretion to award the additional jail credit and violated Petitioner's right to Due Process and Equal Protection by failing to modify the sentence to reflect the additional jail credit.
II. Ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel.

         II. Standard of Review

         28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), imposes the following standard of review for habeas cases:

         An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-

(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 on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

         court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as 'fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011)(citing Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). In order to obtain habeas relief in federal court, a state prisoner is required to show that the state court's rejection of his claim "was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement." Harrington, 562 U.S. at 103.

         Petitioner raised his first claim on his direct appeal. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied Petitioner's application for leave to appeal in a form order "for lack of merit in the grounds presented." The Michigan Supreme Court subsequently denied Petitioner leave to appeal in a standard form order without any extended discussion. Determining whether a state court's decision resulted from an unreasonable legal or factual conclusion, as would warrant federal habeas relief, does not require that there be an opinion from the state court that explains the state court's reasoning. Harrington, 562 U.S. at 98. "Where a state court's decision is unaccompanied by an explanation, the habeas petitioner's burden still must be met by showing there was no reasonable basis for the state court to deny relief." Id. In fact, when a habeas petitioner has presented a federal claim to a state court and that state court has denied relief, "it may be presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence ...


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