United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S HABEAS
PETITION, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING
LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL
HONORABLE STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III
April 21, 2017, Petitioner Ernest Keckler filed his pro se
petition for a writ of habeas corpus. ECF 1. Keckler
challenges his conviction for owning or possessing a place or
area used to manufacture methamphetamine. Keckler raises two
claims: (1) his attorney's ineffectiveness coerced his
guilty plea, and (2) he is entitled to resentencing.
Respondent maintains that Keckler's claims are meritless.
For the reasons below, the Court will deny Keckler habeas
corpus relief and will deny him a certificate of
26, 2014, Keckler was charged in Kalamazoo County Circuit
Court with owning or possessing a place or area used to
manufacture methamphetamine, in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 333.7401c(2)(f), and being a fourth habitual offender,
in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.12. See ECF 9-1,
PgID 107. On October 3, 2014, Keckler pleaded guilty to the
methamphetamine-related charge and the prosecutor dismissed
the habitual offender charge. ECF 9-2, PgID 114. The parties
further agreed to depart from the guidelines and provide
Keckler with a minimum sentence of four years in exchange for
his cooperation in the prosecution of several codefendants,
truthful testimony at hearings, and compliance with all bond
conditions (such as court-ordered events and refraining from
drug use). Id. at 115.
April 13, 2015, during the sentencing hearing, the state
trial court determined that Keckler failed to comply with
bond conditions by testing positive multiple times for
methamphetamine and failed to appear for court proceedings.
ECF 9-3, PgID 129-30. The trial court sentenced Keckler to
six to twenty years' imprisonment. Id. at 131.
filed a motion to withdraw his plea or for resentencing. See
ECF 9-4 (transcript of motion hearing). The trial court
denied his motion. Id. at 140.
January 22, 2016, the Michigan Court of Appeals denied
Keckler's delayed application for leave to appeal
"for lack of merit in the grounds presented." ECF
9-5, PgID 141. On September 6, 2016, the Michigan Supreme
Court also denied leave to appeal. People v.
Keckler, 500 Mich. 855 (2016); see also ECF 9-6, PgID
April 21, 2017, Keckler filed his habeas corpus petition
raising two claims: (1) he was coerced into pleading guilty
because of his attorney's ineffectiveness, and (2) he is
entitled to resentencing because the sentencing guidelines
are no longer mandatory. ECF 1, PgID 2.
Court may not grant habeas relief to a state prisoner unless
his claims were adjudicated on the merits and the state court
adjudication was "contrary to" or resulted in an
"unreasonable application of" clearly established
Supreme Court law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).
state court's decision is 'contrary to' . . .
clearly established law if it 'applies a rule that
contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court
cases]' or if it 'confronts a set of facts that are
materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme]
Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from
[this] precedent." Mitchell v. Esparza, 540
U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003) (quoting Williams v. Taylor,
529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)).
state court unreasonably applies Supreme Court precedent not
when its application of precedent is merely "incorrect
or erroneous" but when its application of precedent is
"objectively unreasonable." Wiggins v.
Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520-21 (2003) (internal citations
omitted). "A state court's determination that a
claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as
'fairminded jurists could disagree' on the
correctness of the state court's decision."
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011)
(quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 654
federal court reviews only whether a state court's
decision comports with clearly established federal law as
determined by the Supreme Court at the time the state court
renders its decision. Greene v. Fisher, 565 U.S. 34,
38 (2011). A state court need not cite to or be aware of
Supreme Court cases, "so long as neither the reasoning
nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts
them." Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002).
Decisions by lower federal courts "may be instructive in
assessing the reasonableness of a state court's
resolution of an issue." Stewart v. Erwin, 503
F.3d 488, 493 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Williams v.
Bowersox, 340 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir. 2003)).
a federal habeas court presumes the correctness of state
court factual determinations. See 28 U.S.C. §
2254(e)(1). A petitioner may successfully rebut the