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Stennis v. Place

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

July 12, 2018

JAQUAN CHRISTOPHER STENNIS, Petitioner,
v.
SHANE PLACE, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING PETITIONER'S APPLICATION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED ON APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner has filed an application in this matter for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He pled guilty to assault with intent to commit murder in Wayne County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 14 years 3 months to 25 years imprisonment in 2013. Petitioner raises claims concerning the conduct of the prosecutor, the effectiveness of trial counsel, the sufficiency of the evidence, and the scoring of the state sentencing guidelines. Respondent has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should be dismissed at untimely and/or denied because the claims are procedurally defaulted and/or lack merit. Having reviewed the matter, the Court concludes that the habeas petition is untimely and must be dismissed. The Court also concludes that a certificate of appealability and leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal must be denied.

         Procedural History

         Petitioner's conviction arises from his assault upon Eric Smith in October, 2012. The petitioner repeatedly kicked Eric Smith in the face, head, and chest, intending to kill him, but leaving him in a coma. On April 2, 2013, petitioner pled guilty to assault with intent to murder in exchange for the dismissal of a fourth habitual offender notice and a sentence of 14 years 3 months to 25 years imprisonment. On April 23, 2013, the trial court sentenced petitioner in accordance with his plea agreement.

         In October 2013, petitioner filed a motion with the state court to withdraw his guilty plea on the grounds that (1) he was not guilty, (2) he was coerced into pleading guilty because the prosecution offered his codefendant a plea agreement, and (3) his trial counsel failed to pursue an alibi defense. The trial court denied the motion. Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals alleging that (1) the trial court erred in denying his plea withdrawal motion as he is actually innocent and has an alibi defense, and (2) the trial court erred in denying his plea withdrawal motion as his plea was coerced and he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. The court denied the application “for lack of merit in the grounds presented.” People v. Stennis, No. 319766 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2014). Petitioner then filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court raising the same claims, which was denied in a standard order. People v. Stennis, 496 Mich. 861, 847 N.W.2d 649 (June 24, 2014).

         Petitioner subsequently filed[1] a motion for relief from judgment with the state trial court alleging that (1) appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise issues on appeal and to communicate with him to ensure that all possible issues were explored, (2) he is entitled to relief to MCR 6.508(D)(3), and (3) the evidence presented at the plea hearing was insufficient to convict him of assault with intent to murder. The trial court denied the motion pursuant to MCR 6.508(D)(3) and on the merits. People v. Stennis, No. 12-10267-01 (Wayne Co Cir. Ct. Jan. 6, 2016). Petitioner did not appeal that decision to the Michigan appellate courts.

         Petitioner signed the instant petition on November 30, 2016. He raises the following claims: (1) his rights were violated because the trial court allowed prosecutorial misconduct and denied due diligence, (2) appointed trial counsel failed to provide him with the effective assistance of counsel, (3) his conviction should be overturned because there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction, and (4) the trial court violated his due process rights by mis-scoring Offense Variables 1 and 2 of the state sentencing guidelines. As noted, respondent has filed an answer to the petitioner contending that it should be dismissed as untimely and/or denied because the claim are procedurally defaulted and/or lack merit. The petitioner has filed a reply to that answer.

         Discussion

         Federal habeas cases are subject to a one-year period of limitations:

(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of--
(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 review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the ...

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