United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
AND ORDER GRANTING THE STATE'S MOTION TO DISMISS ,
DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO GRANT HIS PETITION ,
DISMISSING THE HABEAS CORPUS PETITION , DECLINING TO ISSUE
A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITTY, AND GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAL
IN FORMA PAUPERIS
D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Maurice Leonard has filed a pro se petition for the
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and a
motion to grant his petition. The State has moved to dismiss
the petition on the ground that Petitioner failed to comply
with the applicable one-year statute of limitations. The
Court agrees that the habeas petition is untimely. The Court
also finds that Petitioner's underlying grounds for
relief lack merit. Accordingly, the State's motion to
dismiss the petition (ECF No. 9) is granted, Petitioner's
motion to grant the petition (ECF No. 11) is denied, and the
habeas petition (ECF No. 1) is dismissed with prejudice.
2007, Petitioner was charged with state and federal crimes
involving a special agent employed by the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The Government
summarized the facts leading to the charges as follows:
On October 16, 2007, ATF S/A Joe Nether and Task Force
Officer Talbert, acting in an undercover capacity, met with
defendant Leonard at 18**9 Bentler [in Detroit, Michigan],
for the purpose of purchasing narcotics. Defendant Leonard
directed S/A Nether, who was equipped with an electronic
recording device, to Plymouth and Greenfield streets to
complete the narcotics transaction. S/A Nether gave defendant
Leonard $750 of prerecorded government funds . . . which
defendant Leonard exchanged with co-defendant McKinney for
crack cocaine. Defendant Leonard gave the crack cocaine to
S/A Nether. Defendant Leonard lured S/A Nether back to and
inside the Bentler address under the ruse of having
additional narcotics for purchase, to wit: marijuana, and to
weigh the recently purchased crack cocaine.
Upon following defendant Leonard inside the premises, a black
male later identified as Derrick Carpenter placed a gun to
the back of S/A Nether's head and ordered him onto the
ground. S/A Nether immediately struggled with the gunman for
control of the gun. During the struggle, defendant Leonard
and Williams kicked and punched the agent in an effort to
prevent him from gaining control of Carpenter's gun. The
agent continuously screamed for help during this encounter
until supporting officers forced entry into the location. The
three assailants fled the location and Carpenter was killed
by a responding agent when he did not drop his weapon which
was leveled at an officer. Leonard and Williams were
apprehended outside the premises. The agent sustained
bruises, contusions, and dental damage.
United States v. Leonard, No.
2:07-cr-20545-AJT-MKM-2 (E.D. Mich. July 22, 2008)
(Government's Sentencing Memorandum, pp. 1-2, ECF No.
The Federal Case
April 1, 2008, Petitioner pleaded guilty in the federal case
to the following crimes: distribution of more than five grams
of crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a); aiding and
abetting the distribution of more than five grams of crack
cocaine, 18 U.S.C. § 2 and 21 U.S.C. § 841(a);
aiding and abetting the assault of a federal agent, 18 U.S.C.
§§ 2 and 111(b); and aiding and abetting the use of
a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, 18
U.S.C. §§ 2 and 924(c). On July 23, 2008, another
judge in this District sentenced Petitioner to three
concurrent terms of ten years in prison for the cocaine and
assault convictions and a consecutive term of seven years for
the firearm conviction. See United States v.
Leonard, No. 2-07-cv-20545-AJT-MKM-2 (E.D. Mich. July
The State Case
case concerns Petitioner's state convictions. On April 2,
2008, Petitioner pleaded guilty in Wayne County Circuit Court
to: assault with intent to rob while armed, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.89; assault with intent to commit murder, Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.83; delivery of less than 50 grams of
cocaine, Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.7401(2)(a)(iv);
conspiracy to commit armed robbery, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.157a; felon in possession of a firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.224f; resisting and obstructing a police officer,
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.479; and possession of a firearm
during the commission of a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.227b. Petitioner pleaded guilty with the
understanding that he would be sentenced in the state case
after he was sentenced in the federal case, that his state
and federal sentences would run concurrently with each other,
and that he would serve his state sentence in federal prison.
See Plea Tr., pp. 3-4, 6-7 (ECF No. 10-3); Sentence
Tr., p. 23 (ECF No. 10-4).
August 6, 2008, the state trial court sentenced Petitioner to
two years in prison for the felony-firearm conviction,
followed by concurrent prison terms of thirty to sixty years
for the two assault convictions, five to twenty years for the
cocaine conviction, two to five years for the conspiracy and
felon-in-possession convictions, and one to four years for
the resisting-and-obstructing conviction. The court ordered
all the state sentences to run concurrently with
Petitioner's federal sentence. The court also stated that
Petitioner could serve the first seventeen years of his state
sentence in federal prison. See Sentence Tr., pp.
29-31 (ECF No. 10-4).
did not pursue a direct appeal from his convictions and
sentences, and on August 6, 2009, the one-year deadline for
filing an appeal expired. See Mich. Ct. Rule.
7.205(G)(3). On April 9, 2013, Petitioner, through
counsel, filed a motion for relief from judgment in the state
trial court. See Mot. for Relief from J. (ECF No.
10-6). He claimed that he was entitled to withdraw his guilty
plea because his trial attorney pressured or misled him into
pleading guilty. According to Petitioner, his attorney told
him that, if he pleaded guilty, he would be sentenced at the
low end of the sentencing guidelines, which the attorney
calculated at fourteen years, three months.
also asserted that he was entitled to post-conviction relief
under Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D) because no court had ruled
on his claims, and he was precluded from raising the claims
on direct appeal due to the expiration of the deadline for
filing an appeal. Counsel for Petitioner explained in the
motion that, although he was appointed to represent
Petitioner in 2009, he was unable to communicate with
Petitioner until years later, when he discovered that
Petitioner was being held in a federal institution in West
Virginia. Counsel further stated that, although he
subsequently attempted to maintain contact with Petitioner,
he was unable to do so because Petitioner was transferred to
other federal facilities.
state trial court denied Petitioner's motion after
concluding that there was no merit in Petitioner's
assertions regarding the withdrawal and voluntariness of his
guilty plea, and that no miscarriage of justice occurred with
regard to Petitioner's plea. The court also stated that
Petitioner had failed to establish “cause and
prejudice” under Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D)(3).
See People v. Leonard, No. 07-24234-01-FC (Wayne Cty
Cir. Ct. Oct. 25, 2013) (ECF No. 10-7). Petitioner
appealed the trial court's decision through counsel, but
the Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal because
Petitioner had failed to carry his burden of establishing
entitlement to relief under Rule 6.508(D). See People v.
Leonard, No. 319114 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 15, 2014).
raised the same two claims and two new issues in a pro
se application for leave to appeal in the Michigan
Supreme Court. In lieu of granting leave to appeal, the state
supreme court remanded Petitioner's case to the Michigan
Court of Appeals for consideration of Petitioner's
appellate application under the standard applicable to direct
appeals. The supreme court stated that Petitioner had been
deprived of his direct appeal by appellate counsel's
ineffective assistance, namely, counsel's failure to
locate the correctional facility where Petitioner was
incarcerated. The supreme court did not retain jurisdiction.
See People v. Leonard, 497 Mich. 852 (2014).
remand, the Michigan Court of Appeals denied Petitioner's
application for leave to appeal “for lack of merit in
the grounds presented.” See People v. Leonard,
No. 319114 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 4, 2014). Petitioner did not
appeal that decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.
See Resp't Mot. to Dismiss Pet. for Writ of
Habeas Corpus, Ex. A (ECF No. 9).
The Habeas Petitions
October 5, 2015, Petitioner challenged his state convictions
in a federal habeas corpus petition. He claimed that his
trial attorney was ineffective for advising him to plead
guilty because his state sentence would be comparable to his
federal sentence of seventeen years.
State argued in a responsive pleading filed on April 28,
2016, that Petitioner had procedurally defaulted his claim by
failing to seek full appellate review of his claim in the
Michigan Supreme Court following the remand to the Michigan
Court of Appeals.
9, 2016, Petitioner moved to voluntarily dismiss his habeas
petition without prejudice. He did not give a reason for his
motion, nor explain what he intended to do next. On
approximately the same date, however, Petitioner submitted an
application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme
Court. On June 14, 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court returned
his pleading unfiled because it was untimely, as it was
received more than fifty-six days after the lower state
court's decision from November 2014. See
Resp't Mot. to Dismiss Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus,
Ex. B (ECF No. 9).
August 17, 2016, this Court granted Petitioner's motion
to voluntarily dismiss his first habeas petition without
prejudice. In the same order, the Court informed Petitioner
that, if he wished to seek federal habeas relief after
exhausting his state-court remedies, he should file a new
habeas petition. See Leonard v. Schuette, No.
15-13627 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 17, 2016).
did not pursue any additional state-court remedies after this
Court dismissed his first habeas petition, and on November
20, 2016, he commenced this action. He claims as grounds for
relief that (1) he was denied effective assistance of trial
counsel, (2) his convictions were obtained in violation of
the protection against double jeopardy, (3) he was denied his
right of appeal, and (4) his convictions were obtained by a
guilty plea which was unlawfully induced or involuntarily
made. As noted above, the State filed a motion to dismiss the
petition on the basis that the petition was not filed within
the applicable statute of limitation. Petitioner replied to
the State's motion by filing a motion urging the Court to
proceed with his case and to grant his petition.
The Statute of Limitations
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)
established a one-year period of limitations for state
prisoners to file their federal habeas corpus petitions.
Wall v. Kholi, 562 U.S. 545, 550 (2011) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)); Holbrook v. Curtin, 833
F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing § 2244(d)(1)),
cert. denied sub nom. Woods v. Holbrook, 137 S.Ct.
1436 (2017). The limitations period runs from the latest of
the following four dates:
(A) the date on which the judgment became
final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of
the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to
filing an application created by State action in violation of
the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if
the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional
right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court,
if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court
and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral
(D) the date on which the factual predicate
of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered
through the ...