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People v. Barnes

Supreme Court of Michigan

July 9, 2018

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TIMOTHY L. BARNES, Defendant-Appellant.

          Syllabus

         In 2002, Timothy Barnes was convicted of second-degree murder, MCL 750.317, and other offenses. On direct appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions and the Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. In 2008, defendant moved in the trial court for relief from judgment, and the trial court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. After this Court's decision in People v Lockridge, 498 Mich. 358 (2015), defendant again moved for relief from judgment in the Wayne Circuit Court under MCR 6.502(G)(2), arguing that because his sentence was imposed when the legislative sentencing guidelines were mandatory, he should be resentenced in light of Lockridge, which held that the guidelines are now only advisory. The court, Mark T. Slavens, J., denied the motion and defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals dismissed the delayed application for leave to appeal under MCR 6.502(G)(1), reasoning that no appeal may be taken from the denial or rejection of a successive motion for relief from judgment. Defendant applied for leave to appeal.

         In a unanimous per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court, in lieu of granting leave to appeal and without hearing oral argument, held:

         The new rules of law regarding sentencing announced in Lockridge and Alleyne v United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013)-the decision on which the Lockridge decision was based-apply prospectively only in state collateral review proceedings.

         1. In general, judicial decisions that express new rules are not applied retroactively to other cases that have become final; accordingly, new rules are generally not applied to criminal cases receiving collateral review. However, in some circumstances, a new rule of law will be applied retroactively to a criminal case receiving collateral review. Under MCR 6.502(G)(2), a defendant may file a second or subsequent motion for relief from judgment based on a retroactive change in law that occurred after the first motion for relief from judgment. There are separate federal and state tests for determining whether a new rule of law should be applied retroactively to a case on collateral review.

         2. Under federal retroactivity jurisprudence, a new legal rule may be applied on collateral review to an otherwise closed case when the rule involves (1) a new substantive rule of constitutional law, that is, a rule forbidding certain primary conduct or a rule prohibiting a certain category of punishment for a class of defendants because of their status or offense; or (2) a new watershed rule of criminal procedure that implicates the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the criminal proceeding. A case announces a new rule when it breaks new ground or imposes a new obligation on the states or the federal government; a new rule is one not dictated by then-existing precedent. In this case, Lockridge articulated a new rule of law. The Lockridge decision was based on Alleyne, which had overruled existing precedent, indicating that Alleyne also established a new rule of law. However, the Alleyne decision did not create a substantive rule of constitutional law because it did not apply to primary conduct or to a particular class of defendant; instead, the new rule adjusted how the sentencing process functions once any defendant is convicted of a crime. The Alleyne rule was not a new watershed rule of criminal procedure because the rule did not implicate the accuracy of a defendant's conviction; instead, the Alleyne rule established a procedural rule related to the sentencing process that was entitled to prospective application only. Accordingly, the new rule of law announced in Alleyne was not entitled to retroactive application under federal law.

         3. But the remedy a state court chooses to provide its citizens for violations of the Federal Constitution is primarily a question of state law. To determine whether a new rule of law applies retroactively in Michigan on collateral review, courts must consider: (1) the purpose of the new rule, (2) the general reliance on the old rule, and (3) the effect on the administration of justice. The new rule announced in Lockridge was not relevant to the ascertainment of guilt or innocence of a defendant and did not implicate the integrity of the fact-finding process, making it amenable to prospective application only. Moreover, the bench and bar manifestly relied on the mandatory sentencing guidelines from 1999 until the Lockridge decision in 2015, meaning there would be an incalculable effect on the administration of justice if the Lockridge rule was extended retroactively on collateral review. In light of these state retroactivity factors, Lockridge applied prospectively only on collateral review. In this case, because the new rules of law in Alleyne and Lockridge applied prospectively only on collateral review, the trial court correctly denied defendant's motion for relief from judgment for failing to articulate a retroactive change in law that could be applied to his case.

         Affirmed.

          Chief Justice: Stephen J. Markman Justices: Brian K. Zahra Bridget M. McCormack David F. Viviano Richard H. Bernstein Kurtis T. Wilder Elizabeth T. Clement

         BEFORE THE ENTIRE BENCH

          OPINION

          Per Curiam.

         In 2002, defendant Timothy Barnes was convicted of second-degree murder, MCL 750.317, and other offenses. On direct appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions, and this Court denied leave to appeal. People v Barnes, 472 Mich. 866 (2005). In 2008, defendant moved in the trial court for relief from judgment. The trial court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals and this Court denied leave to appeal. People v Barnes, 488 Mich. 869 (2010). Defendant has now filed another motion for relief from judgment, arguing that, because his sentence was imposed when the legislative sentencing guidelines were mandatory, he should be resentenced now that this Court has held in People v Lockridge, 498 Mich. 358; 870 N.W.2d 502 (2015), that the guidelines are advisory only.[1] Ordinarily, successive motions for relief from judgment are barred by MCR 6.502(G)(1), which allows, "after August 1, 1995, one and only one motion for relief from judgment [to] be filed with regard to a conviction." The trial court denied defendant's motion on that basis. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred and that his motion falls within one of the exceptions in MCR 6.502(G)(2), which allows a "subsequent motion [for relief from judgment] based on a retroactive change in law that occurred after the first motion for relief from judgment . . . ." As explained in this opinion, Lockridge does not have retroactive effect for sentences receiving collateral review under MCR 6.500, and so we affirm.

         Ordinarily, "judicial decisions are to be given complete retroactive effect." Hyde v Univ of Mich. Bd of Regents, 426 Mich. 223, 240; 393 N.W.2d 847 (1986). But judicial decisions which express new rules normally are not applied retroactively to other cases that have become final. "New legal principles, even when applied retroactively, do not apply to cases already closed," because "at some point, 'the rights of the parties should be considered frozen' and a 'conviction . . . final.'" Reynoldsville Casket Co v Hyde, 514 U.S. 749, 758; 115 S.Ct. 1745; 131 L.Ed.2d 820 (1995), quoting United States v Estate of Donnelly, 397 U.S. 286, 296; 90 S.Ct. 1033; 25 L.Ed.2d 312 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring). Thus, as to those cases that have become final, the general rule allows only prospective application. However, there are "certain special concerns-related to collateral review of state criminal convictions-that affect" how courts determine whether a case should be considered closed. Reynoldsville Casket Co, 514 U.S. at 758. In essence, these "special concerns" amount to exceptions to the general rule of nonretroactivity for closed cases, allowing a new legal rule to be applied on collateral review to an otherwise closed case. Both federal and state rules govern the retroactive application of new legal principles to criminal cases that are otherwise final but subject to collateral review.

         The federal standard for retroactivity under these circumstances was most recently laid out in Montgomery v Louisiana, 577 U.S.; 13 ...


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