United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
TAMARA J. STEPHENS, Petitioner,
SHAWN BREWER, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO REOPEN THIS
CASE AND AMEND THE PETITION, DIRECTING THE CLERK OF COURT TO
SERVE THE PETITIONS ON THE STATE, AND DIRECTING THE STATE TO
FILE A RESPONSE
H. CLELAND, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
2017, Tamara Joy Stephens filed a pro se habeas corpus
petition (ECF No. 1) and a supplemental petition (ECF No. 5).
She raised six grounds for relief and asked the court to hold
her petition in abeyance while she pursued state remedies for
three unexhausted claims. The court granted petitioner's
request and closed this case for administrative purposes.
(ECF No. 6). Now before the court are Petitioner's motion
to reopen this case (ECF No. 7) and motion to amend the
habeas corpus petition (ECF No. 8). For the reasons set forth
below, the court will grant Petitioner's motions, order
the Clerk of Court to serve the appropriate documents on the
state, and order the state to file a response.
a jury trial in Oakland County Circuit Court, Petitioner was
convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-I),
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520b, unlawful imprisonment,
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.349b, and assault with a deadly
weapon (felonious assault), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.82.
The trial court sentenced Petitioner as a habitual offender,
fourth offense, to imprisonment for thirty to fifty years for
the CSC-I, ten to twenty years for the unlawful imprisonment,
and three to fifteen years for the felonious assault.
Petitioner's direct appeal, she argued that (1) her trial
attorney provided ineffective assistance by failing to call
an expert witness on the cause of the victim's injuries,
(2) the trial court improperly sentenced her based on her
lack of remorse, and (3) the trial court erred in scoring
fifty points for offense variable seven of the Michigan
Sentencing Guidelines. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed
Petitioner's convictions and sentences. See People v.
Stephens, No. 324802, 2016 WL 1276452 (Mich. Ct. App.
Mar. 31, 2016) (per curiam).
states that she raised the same issues in an application for
leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court. On October 26,
2016, the Michigan Supreme Court remanded the case to the
trial court pursuant to People v. Lockridge, 870
N.W.2d 502 (Mich. 2015), for a determination of whether the
court would have imposed a materially different sentence had
it not believed it was bound by the Michigan Sentencing
Guidelines. The court denied leave to appeal in all other
respects. See People v. Stephens, 886 N.W.2d 442
(Mich. 2016). On remand, the trial court declined to
re-sentence Petitioner, and Petitioner did not appeal the
trial court's decision.
filed her initial habeas corpus petition in this court on
August 11, 2017. She argued that she was entitled to relief
for several reasons: (1) she was denied her right to
effective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to
consult or produce an expert witness on the cause of the
complainant's injuries; (2) she was denied counsel at a
critical stage of trial when trial counsel failed to request
jury instructions on lesser- included offenses for CSC-I; (3)
she was entitled to a remand for re-sentencing before a
different judge because the sentence was based in part on her
refusal to admit guilt; (4) she was entitled to a remand for
re-sentencing because the trial court did not instruct the
jury on lesser-included offenses; and (5) the trial court
erred in scoring fifty points for offense variable seven of
the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines. In her supplemental
petition filed on September 26, 2017, Petitioner raised a
sixth ground for relief, claiming that her appellate attorney
was ineffective for failing to raise her claim regarding
trial counsel's ineffective assistance.
conceded that three of her claims were not raised in state
court. She asked the court to hold her petition in abeyance
while she presented her unexhausted claims to the state trial
court in a motion for relief from judgment.
October 13, 2017, the court granted Petitioner's request
to have the court hold her habeas petition in abeyance and
ordered Petitioner to file a motion for relief from judgment
in the state trial court within ninety days of the
court's order if she had not already filed such a motion.
The court also ordered Petitioner to file an amended petition
and a motion to reopen this case within ninety days of
exhausting state remedies if she was unsuccessful in state
court. Finally, the court closed this case for administrative
purposes. (ECF No. 6.)
raised her first five habeas claims in a motion for relief
from judgment, which the trial court denied under Michigan
Court Rule 6.508(D). See People v. Stephens, No.
13-247948-FC (Oakland Cty. Cir. Ct. Oct. 20, 2017).
Petitioner apparently raised her sixth habeas claim in a
motion for leave to file an amended or supplemental motion
for relief from judgment, but the trial court denied the
motion for lack of merit. See People v. Stephens,
No. 13-247948-FC (Oakland Cty. Cir. Ct. Oct. 24, 2017). The
trial court also denied Petitioner's motion for rehearing
or for reconsideration. See People v. Stephens, No.
13-247948-FC (Oakland Cty. Cir. Ct. Dec. 11, 2017). The
Michigan Court of Appeals subsequently denied leave to
appeal, see People v. Stephens, No. 340946 (Mich.
Ct. App. Mar. 12, 2018), and on December 4, 2018, the
Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. See People
v. Stephens, 919 N.W.2d 793 (Mich. 2018).
January 29, 2019, Petitioner filed her motions to reopen this
case and to amend her petition. Although she did not file an
amended petition with her motions, she did file numerous
exhibits, which demonstrate what happened during the
post-conviction proceedings in state court. It appears from
those exhibits that Petitioner substantially complied with
the deadlines set forth in the court's order granting a
stay and holding this case in abeyance. Accordingly, IT IS
ORDERED that Petitioner's motion to reopen the case (ECF
No. 7) is GRANTED.
FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner's motion to amend her
petition (ECF No. 8) is GRANTED.
FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to
serve the petition (ECF No. 1), the supplemental petition
(ECF No. 5), the motions to reopen and to amend (ECF Nos. 7
and 8), and Petitioner's exhibits (ECF No. 9) on the
Attorney General for the State of Michigan and on Respondent
FURTHER ORDERED that the state shall file a response to the
petitions and the relevant portions of the state-court record
within six (6) months of the date of this order.
FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner shall have forty-five (45)
days from the date of the ...