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Peats v. Winn

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

July 30, 2018

MARVIN LOUIS PEATS, #983390, Petitioner,
THOMAS WINN, Respondent.



         I. Introduction

         Michigan prisoner Marvin Louis Peats (“Petitioner”), currently confined at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland, Michigan, filed a pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his Kent County Circuit Court conviction for third-degree criminal sexual conduct for which the Court sentenced him as a fourth habitual offender to 17 to 40 years in prison. Petitioner raises claims concerning the sufficiency of the evidence, the notice of the charges against him, and the effectiveness of defense counsel at sentencing.

         For the reasons stated here, the Court dismisses without prejudice the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. The Court also denies a Certificate of Appealability and denies leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         II. Analysis

         When a habeas petition is filed, the Court must promptly undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether “it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If, after preliminary consideration, the Court determines that the petitioner is not entitled to relief, the Court must summarily dismiss it. Id., Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has duty to “screen out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999).

         It is well-settled that a state prisoner filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §2254 must first exhaust all state remedies. See O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999) (“state prisoners must give the state courts one full fair opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the State's established appellate review process”); Rust v. Zent, 17 F.3d 155, 160 (6th Cir. 1994). The claims must be “fairly presented” to the state courts, meaning that the petitioner must have asserted both the factual and legal bases for the claims in the state courts. McMeans v. Brigano, 228 F.3d 674, 681 (6th Cir. 2000); see also Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 806 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing McMeans). The claims must also be raised in the state courts as federal constitutional issues. Koontz v. Glossa, 731 F.2d 365, 368 (6th Cir. 1984). A Michigan prisoner must raise each issue he seeks to present in a federal habeas proceeding to both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court to satisfy the exhaustion requirement. Hafley v. Sowders, 902 F.2d 480, 483 (6th Cir. 1990); Welch v. Burke, 49 F.Supp.2d 992, 998 (E.D. Mich. 1999). The burden is on the petitioner to prove exhaustion. Rust, 17 F.3d at 160.

         Petitioner fails to meet his burden. The record indicates that he raised his habeas claims on direct appeal before the Michigan Court of Appeals and was denied relief. People v. Peats, No. 334608, 2017 WL 4557651 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 12, 2017). Petitioner admits, however, that he did not timely file an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court. He thus failed to fully exhaust state court remedies before seeking federal habeas relief.

         Petitioner has an available state court remedy to challenge his conviction and sentence which must be exhausted before he seeks federal habeas review. He may file a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 6.500 with the state trial court and then pursue his claims through both of the state appellate courts as necessary. Federal law provides that a habeas petitioner is only entitled to relief if he can show that the state court adjudication of his claims 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. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). The state courts must first be given a fair opportunity to rule upon Petitioner's claims before he can present them in federal court. Otherwise, the Court cannot apply the standard found at 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         A federal court has discretion to stay a mixed habeas petition which contains both exhausted and unexhausted claims, to allow a petitioner to present the unexhausted claims to the state courts in the first instance and then return to federal court on a perfected petition. Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 276 (2005). Stay and abeyance is available only in “limited circumstances” such as when the one-year statute of limitations applicable to federal habeas actions poses a concern, and when the petitioner demonstrates “good cause” for the failure to exhaust state court remedies before proceeding in federal court and the unexhausted claims are not “plainly meritless.” Id. at 277.

         Petitioner does not request a stay nor indicate that his circumstances justify a stay. Moreover, a stay is inappropriate. None of Petitioner's habeas claims is exhausted. The Court cannot ordinarily stay a petition containing only unexhausted claims. In such a case, a non-prejudicial dismissal of the petition is appropriate. See Hines v. Romanowski, No. 2:14-CV-13983, 2014 WL 5420135, *2 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 22, 2014) (dismissing case where all claims were unexhausted); Wilson v. Warren, No. 06-CV-15508, 2007 WL 37756, *2 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 4, 2007) (“a stay of petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus would be inappropriate, because all of petitioner's claims are unexhausted and thus, the Court lacks jurisdiction over the petition while the petitioner pursues his claims in state court”); accord Rasberry v. Garcia, 448 F.3d 1150, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006) (Rhines stay and abeyance rule does not apply to a petition alleging only unexhausted claims); United States v. Hickman, 191 Fed.Appx. 756, 757 (10th Cir. 2006) (“[t]raditionally, when a petition contains entirely unexhausted state claims, the petition would be dismissed without prejudice....”); McDonald v. Bell, No. 1:06-cv-406, 2009 WL 1525970 (W.D. Mich. June 1, 2009) (concluding that the stay and abeyance procedure does not apply to a petition containing only unexhausted claims); Mimms v. Russell, No. 1:08-cv-79, 2009 WL 890509 (S.D. Ohio March 31, 2009) (habeas petition subject to dismissal where petitioner did not exhaust state court remedies on any of his habeas claims); Murphy v. Feneis, No. 07-153, 2007 WL 2320540, *7 (D. Minn. Aug.10, 2007) (“Given the narrow issue before the Supreme Court regarding mixed petitions, this Court refuses to extend Rhines to allow a court to stay a habeas petition, so that a petitioner can exhaust his state remedies, where, as here, the petition contains only unexhausted claims.”). Given such circumstances, a stay is unwarranted and a non-prejudicial dismissal of the habeas petition is appropriate.

         III. Conclusion

         Petitioner did not properly exhaust his habeas claims in the state courts; a stay of the proceedings is unwarranted. Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. The Court makes no determination as to the merit of Petitioner's habeas claims.

         Before Petitioner may appeal this decision, a Certificate of Appealability (“COA”) must issue. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(a); Fed. R. App. P. 22(b). A COA may issue only if the applicant makes “a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). When a court denies relief on procedural grounds without addressing the merits, a COA should issue if it is shown that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petitioner states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right, and that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the court was correct in its procedural ruling. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484-85 (2000). Reasonable jurists could not debate the correctness of the Court's ...

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