United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION, DENYING MOTION TO VACATE, DENYING CERTIFICATE
OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA
L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 12, 2016, an indictment was issued which charged
Michael Allen Pratt, Jr., and twelve other Defendants with
participating in a large-scale conspiracy to possess and
distribute controlled substances. ECF No. 16. Petitioner was
charged in Count One, conspiracy to possess and distribute
cocaine and heroin; Count Twenty-Six, distribution of heroin
on October 26, 2015; Count Twenty-Seven, distribution of
heroin on October 29, 2015; Count Twenty-Eight, distribution
of heroin on November 4, 2015; Count Twenty-Nine,
distribution of heroin on November 23, 2015; and Count
Thirty, distribution of heroin and fentanyl, aiding and
was represented by Joan Morgan. On September 11, 2017,
Petitioner entered into a Rule 11 Plea Agreement, pleading
guilty to Count One, conspiracy to possess and distribute
cocaine and heroin. ECF No. 433. On December 21, 2017, the
Court accepted the Rule 11 Plea Agreement and sentenced
Petitioner to 70 months imprisonment. ECF No. 508.
August 30, 2018, Petitioner filed a motion to vacate his
sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. ECF No. 580. On December 17,
2018, Magistrate Judge Morris issued a Report and
Recommendation recommending the Court deny Petitioner's
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, a party may object to
and seek review of a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2).
Objections must be stated with specificity. Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151 (1985) (citation omitted). If
objections are made, “[t]he district judge must
determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's
disposition that has been properly objected to.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De novo review requires at least a
review of the evidence before the magistrate judge; the Court
may not act solely on the basis of a magistrate judge's
report and recommendation. See Hill v. Duriron Co.,
656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). After reviewing the
evidence, the Court is free to accept, reject, or modify the
findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge. See
Lardie v. Birkett, 221 F.Supp.2d 806, 807 (E.D. Mich.
those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo
review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d
636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). “The parties have the duty to
pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that
the district court must specially consider.”
Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
A general objection, or one that merely restates the
arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently
identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge.
See VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D.
Mich. 2004). An “objection” that does nothing
more than disagree with a magistrate judge's
determination, “without explaining the source of the
error, ” is not considered a valid objection.
Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932
F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). Without specific objections,
“[t]he functions of the district court are effectively
duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court
perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort
wastes judicial resources rather than saving them and runs
contrary to the purposes of the Magistrate's Act.”
raises five objections to the report and recommendation,
which will be addressed in turn.
first objection is that he never made certain statements that
Judge Morris attributed to him in her Report and
Recommendation. ECF No. 644 at 1-3. The sentences in question
provide “Petitioner replies that he was clearly
misguided and misinformed and that his brief shows that he
has met the requirements under Strickland. (R. 609.)
Petitioner specifies that he can't be held responsible
for a quantity of drugs that were found in another
person's home. (R. 609 at PageID.4506.).” ECF No.
618 at 6.
Morris was not directly quoting Petitioner's brief.
Instead, she was summarizing arguments presented in
Petitioner's reply brief. Petitioner's argument that
Judge Morris “took the Petitioner's words and
twisted them into statements that were not made in the order
or fashion that they were being recited” is belied by
the contents of his reply brief, to which Judge Morris
directly cited. In his reply brief, Petitioner argued
Defendant was clearly misinformed and misguided by
counsel…Defendant cant [sic] know that the conspiracy
involved more than 500 grams of cocaine and more than 100
grams of heroin, when all of these drugs were found in the
home of a man who defendant never knew, had any contact with,
or even hear do until this offense. Defendant couldn't
have and did not know the drug amount involved until
defendant was charged with conspiracy after being picked up
on a criminal complaint.
ECF No. 609 at 4505-4506. Judge Morris's summary of
Petitioner's argument is accurate and does not change the
meaning of his words.
next takes issue with Judge Morris's determination that
Petitioner understood and agreed to his Rule 11 Plea
Agreement. He argues that “he made his decision to
plead guilty based on erroneous information.” ECF No.
644 at 7. However, these arguments are the same as those he
presented to Judge Morris. They are still unconvincing in
light of Plaintiff's statements regarding his Plea
Agreement (the “Agreement”) in which he
acknowledged and assured the court that he understood its
terms, which provides:
By signing below, defendant acknowledges having read (or been
read) this entire document, understanding it, and agreeing to
its terms. Defendant also acknowledges being satisfied with
defense attorney's' [sic] advice and representation.
Defendant acknowledges having had a full and complete
opportunity to confer with counsel, and that all of
defendant's questions have been answered by counsel.
ECF No. 433 at 11. Additionally, during his plea hearing
before Judge Morris, he confirmed that he understood the