Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Walden v. Huss

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

July 9, 2019

ROBERT L. WALDEN, Petitioner,
v.
ERICA HUSS, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER SUMMARILY DENYING THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY OR LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          HONORABLE THOMAS L. LUDINGTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner, Robert L. Walden, presently confined at the Marquette Branch Prison in Marquette, Michigan, filed a pro se application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner was convicted in the Monroe County Circuit Court of voluntary manslaughter, Mich. Comp Laws § 750.321. Petitioner was sentenced to ten to twenty-two and a half years in prison as a second habitual offender. Mich. Comp Laws § 769.10. Petitioner contends that the trial court improperly scored Offense Variable (OV) 9 of the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, that the trial judge erred in departing above the recommended sentencing guidelines range, and that his sentence was disproportionate. For the reasons that follow, the petition for writ of habeas corpus will be summarily denied.

         I.

         Petitioner was originally charged with open murder.[1] He was convicted by a jury of the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to ten to twenty-two and one-half years in prison.

         Petitioner's conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. People v. Walden, 319 Mich.App. 344, 901 N.W.2d 142 (2017), lv. den., 501 Mich. 951, 904 N.W.2d 843 (2018).

         II.

         Promptly after the filing of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must 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 the petition. Id., see also Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to “screen out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A federal district court is authorized to summarily dismiss a habeas corpus petition if it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to federal habeas relief. See McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994); Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1999); Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, Rule 4, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254. No. response to a habeas petition is necessary when the petition is frivolous, obviously lacks merit, or where the necessary facts can be determined from the petition itself without consideration of a response from the State. See Allen, 424 F.2d at 141; Robinson v. Jackson, 366 F.Supp.2d 524, 525 (E.D. Mich. 2005).

         After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, it is concluded that Petitioner's sentencing claims do not entitle him to habeas relief. See McIntosh v. Booker, 300 F.Supp.2d 498, 499 (E.D. Mich. 2004).

         III.

         Petitioner's sentencing claims will be addressed together for clarity.

         Petitioner in his first claim contends that the trial court incorrectly scored OV 9 of the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines. As part of his second claim, Petitioner argues that the trial court erred in sentencing Petitioner above the sentencing guidelines range.

         State courts are the final arbiters of state law. See Bradshaw v. Richey, 546 U.S. 74, 76 (2005); Sanford v. Yukins, 288 F.3d 855, 860 (6th Cir. 2002). Therefore, claims which arise out of a state trial court's sentencing decision are not normally cognizable on federal habeas review, unless the habeas petitioner can show that the sentence imposed exceeded the statutory limits or is wholly unauthorized by law. See Vliet v. Renico, 193 F.Supp.2d 1010, 1014 (E.D. Mich. 2002). Thus, a sentence imposed within the statutory limits is not generally subject to habeas review. Townsend v. Burke, 334 U.S. 736, 741 (1948); Cook v. Stegall, 56 F.Supp.2d 788, 797 (E.D. Mich. 1999).

         Petitioner's claim that the state trial court incorrectly scored or calculated his sentencing guidelines range under the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines is non-cognizable on federal habeas review, because it is essentially a state law claim. See Tironi v. Birkett, 252 Fed.Appx. 724, 725 (6th Cir. 2007); Howard v. White, 76 Fed.Appx. 52, 53 (6th Cir. 2003). Errors in the application of state sentencing guidelines cannot independently support habeas relief. See Kissner v. Palmer, 826 F.3d 898, 904 (6th Cir. 2016). Petitioner had “no state-created interest in having the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines applied rigidly in determining his sentence.” See Mitchell v. Vasbinder, 644 F.Supp.2d 846, 867 (E.D. Mich. 2009). Petitioner's related claim that the state trial court improperly departed above the sentencing guidelines range would also not entitle him to habeas relief. Welch v. Burke, 49 F.Supp.2d 992, 1009 (E.D. Mich. 1999); See also Drew v. Tessmer, 195 F.Supp.2d 887, 889-90 (E.D. Mich. 2001). “[I]n short, petitioner had no federal constitutional right to be sentenced within Michigan's guideline minimum sentence recommendations.” Doyle v. Scutt, 347 F.Supp.2d 474, 485 (E.D. Mich. 2004). Any error by the trial court in calculating his guideline score or in departing above the sentencing guidelines range alone would not merit habeas relief. Id. Petitioner's claims that the state trial court improperly departed above the correct sentencing guidelines range would thus not entitle him to habeas relief, because such a departure does not violate any of Petitioner's federal due process rights. Austin v. Jackson, 213 F.3d 298, 301 (6th Cir. 2000).

         To the extent that Petitioner argues that the trial judge failed to use the factors delineated in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) to determine the length of his sentence, he would not be entitled to relief. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(1) is the federal sentencing statute, which does not apply ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.