United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER (1) DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS (ECF #1), (2) DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY, AND (3) GRANTING PERMISSION TO APPEAL IN FORMA
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Rogelio Santiago-Bautista is a state prisoner in the custody
of the Michigan Department of Corrections. On December 27,
2016, Santiago-Bautista filed a petition for a writ of habeas
in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
(See ECF #1.) In the petition, Santiago-Bautista
challenges his state-court conviction for one count of
second-degree criminal sexual conduct, MICH. COMP. LAWS
§ 750.520c(2)(b). Santiago-Bautista pleaded guilty to
that offense, and the state court sentenced him to 10-to-15
years in custody pursuant to a sentence agreement.
raises four claims in his petition: (1) his plea was
involuntary because he understood the sentence agreement to
be for a term of 10-to-15 months in custody, not
10-to-15 years, (2) his trial counsel was ineffective when
counsel advised him to accept a sentence agreement that
required the court to impose the maximum possible sentence
for a conviction of second-degree criminal sexual conduct,
(3) the trial court failed to comply with the Michigan Court
Rules during the plea proceeding, and (4) his sentence is
disproportionate to the seriousness of his offense.
(See ECF #1.)
Court has reviewed Santiago-Bautista's claims and
concludes that he is not entitled to federal habeas relief.
Accordingly, the Court will DENY his
petition. The Court will also deny Santiago-Bautista a
certificate of appealability. But it will grant him
permission to appeal in forma pauperis.
appeared before the state trial court for a plea hearing on
December 12, 2014. (See ECF #8-3.) At the beginning
of the plea hearing, the trial court swore in an interpreter
for Santiago-Bautista, who speaks Spanish. (See Id.
at Pg. ID 129.) The interpreter swore under oath that she
would “accurately, and honestly, and impartially
interpret” the proceedings from English into Spanish.
(Id.) Santiago-Bautista's counsel did not object
to the interpreter's qualifications. (See id.)
prosecutor then placed the terms of plea agreement on the
record. The prosecutor indicated that Santiago-Bautista was
charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and that
Santiago-Bautista had agreed to plead guilty to the lesser
offense of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. (See
Id. at Pg. ID 129-30.) The prosecutor told the trial
court that the parties had an “understanding that
[Santiago-Bautista] [would] receive a sentence of 10 to 15
years” - a sentence substantially below the
“mandatory minimum” of 25 years on the original,
first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge. (Id. at
Pg. ID 130.) Santiago-Bautista's counsel confirmed the
terms of the plea agreement. (See id.)
trial court then placed Santiago-Bautista under oath.
(See id.) Santiago-Bautista first told the trial
court that he understood why he was in court. (See
id.) Santiago-Bautista also said that he understood the
charge to which he was pleading guilty, that the offense
carried a maximum penalty of 15 years in custody, and that
upon his release, he would be required to register for
lifetime electronic monitoring. (See id.) The trial
court specifically asked Santiago-Bautista if he understood
that the maximum penalty for the crime that he was pleading
guilty to was 15 years, and Santiago-Bautista answered,
“Yes, your Honor.” (Id. at Pg. ID 131.)
Santiago-Bautista also indicated that he understood his
guilty plea would result in certain “immigration
consequences, ” including potential deportation.
(Id.) Finally, the trial court informed
Santiago-Bautista of all the trial and appellate rights that
he would be waiving by entering his guilty plea, and
Santiago-Bautista said that he understood those rights.
(See Id. at Pg. ID 131-32.)
trial court then reiterated the terms of the plea agreement,
including the agreed-upon term of 10-to-15-years of
The plea agreement as I understand it is as follows: Upon
your plea to criminal sexual conduct in the second degree,
the prosecution attorney will not pursue criminal sexual
conduct in the first degree and in addition you will receive
the following sentence. You will serve a minimum of 10 years
of incarceration in the Michigan Department of Corrections
and the maximum penalty you face is 15 years.
(Id. at Pg. ID 132.)
told the trial court that he understood the terms of that
agreement, and he said that he did not have any questions
about the agreement. (See id.) He also affirmed that
the plea agreement placed on the record was the complete
agreement, that no threats were made to him that caused him
to plead guilty, that he understood he was giving up any
claim that his plea was the result of any promises or threats
that were not disclosed at the hearing, and that his plea was
free and voluntary. (See Id. at Pg. ID 133.)
the trial court asked Santiago-Bautista “how do you
plead to the charge of criminal sexual conduct in the second
degree, culpable or no [sic] culpable, ” he answered,
“guilty, your Honor.” (Id. at Pg. ID
133-34.) Santiago-Bautista and the Court then head the
The Court: What did you do that makes you guilty of criminal
sexual conduct in the second degree?
The Defendant: On August 4 or this year, I went to the house
of Jennifer Viveros. I kiss her and I touch her groin area.
The Court: What was the name of the victim?
The Defendant: Jennifer Viveros.
The Court: Was she under the age of 13?
The Defendant: Yes, your Honor.
The Court: Did you touch her in her vaginal area?
The Defendant: Yeah, right in the groin.
The Court: Between her legs in her private area?
The Defendant: Yes, your Honor.
The Court: Did you touch her above her clothing or underneath
The Defendant: Under her ...