United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
M. LAWSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ricardo Black challenges his guilty-plea-based convictions
for kidnapping, assault, and weapons offenses in a petition
for a writ of habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. §
2254. He says his lawyer overstated the benefits of his plea
bargain, his sentence did not measure up to his expectations,
and the state courts did not address his claims properly. The
record, however, discloses no violations of federal law, so
his petition will be denied.
was charged with 15 felonies stemming from an errant drug
transaction that occurred in Detroit, Michigan on January 8,
2014. According to the testimony developed at Black's
preliminary examination, Sarah Chilcutt and Kelly Lucas went
to Black's house on Flanders Street in Detroit and smoked
both heroin and crack cocaine. Sarah and Kelly subsequently
walked to a house on East Outer Drive where they waited for a
friend named Jamie to pick them up. About 4:00 p.m., Black
came to the house on East Outer Drive and said that money and
drugs totaling $1, 000 were missing from his house. Black
told Jamie to leave. Although they denied stealing anything,
the petitioner left with Sarah, and Kelly remained at the
testified that Black forced her to go back to his house on
Flanders where he directed her to call someone to bring him
$1, 000. She made a phone call but was unable to get the
money. Black then tied her up in the basement of his house,
hit her twice on the face with his fist, and struck her one
time on the head with a pistol.
Black's sister brought Kelly to the house on Flanders.
Kelly said she saw blood on Sarah's face and clothes.
Black and his sister interrogated the two girls about the
stolen items. When they professed ignorance, they were
allowed to leave.
about the same time, Michael Roedding, Kelly's boyfriend,
drove to the house on Flanders to pick her up. He was
accompanied by his friend, Ed Phillips. When they got to the
house, Phillips went to the door and asked for Kelly. Black
then came out of the house with a gun in his hand and
demanded $1, 000 in return for releasing the girls. When he
said that he was there to pick up the girls and did not know
anything about the money, Black pointed a gun at his head and
followed him back to Roedding's truck. As the two of them
reached the truck, Roedding said something from inside the
truck, and Black fired his handgun through the passenger
window of the truck. Roedding then started to drive away.
Phillips caught up with Roedding and entered the truck. They
drove off and called 911.
the police arrived, Sarah was taken to a hospital, where she
was treated for her injuries.
result of these events, Black was charged with one count of
kidnaping, one count of unlawful imprisonment, two counts of
assault with intent to commit murder, two counts of assault
with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, three
counts of felonious assault, three counts of felon in
possession of a firearm, and three counts of possession of a
firearm during the commission of a felony (felony firearm).
Following plea negotiations, on March 28, 2014, he pleaded
guilty to one count of kidnaping, Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.349, one count of assault with intent to do great bodily
harm less than murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.84, two
counts of felonious assault, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.82,
and one count of felony firearm, second offense, Mich. Comp.
Laws § 750.227b. In exchange for the guilty pleas, the
prosecution agreed to dismiss the remaining ten counts and a
notice charging the petitioner with being a fourth habitual
offender. In addition, the parties and the trial court agreed
that the petitioner's sentence for kidnapping would be
fifteen to forty years in prison and that the sentence for
felony firearm, second offense, would be a consecutive term
of five years. There was no sentencing agreement on the
April 15, 2014, the trial court sentenced Black as promised
on the kidnapping and felony firearm charges. He received
lesser concurrent sentences on the other charges. Six months
later, he moved to withdraw his plea on grounds that his plea
was involuntary and unknowing and his trial attorney was
ineffective. He also alleged that the trial court had erred
when it allowed the plea proceeding to continue without
ordering substitute counsel or conducting an evidentiary
hearing on his allegations of ineffective assistance of
counsel. The trial court held oral arguments on Black's
motion and denied it after concluding that Black knowingly
and voluntarily accepted the plea offer and got exactly what
was offered to him.
applied for leave to appeal, arguing that the trial court
erred when it denied his motion to withdraw his guilty plea
on the basis that his plea was not voluntary and knowing
because defense counsel misrepresented the value of the plea
bargain; and the trial court erred when it denied his request
for an evidentiary hearing and ruled that he had not received
ineffective assistance of counsel. Black also moved to remand
his case for an evidentiary hearing on his claim about trial
counsel. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied the motion to
remand and denied leave to appeal for lack of merit in the
grounds presented. People v. Black, No. 324956
(Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 12, 2015). Black raised the same claims
in the Michigan Supreme Court, which denied leave to appeal
because it was not persuaded to review the questions
presented to it. People v. Black, 498 Mich. 872; 868
N.W.2d 890 (2015) (table).
October 19, 2016, Black filed his habeas corpus petition. He
alleges that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his
motion to withdraw his plea; (2) the trial court erred when
it ruled that he received effective assistance of counsel;
(3) he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing; and (4) he is
entitled to a minimum sentence of 10-3/4 years for his
kidnaping conviction, based on representations made by his
lawyer. Although the respondent asserts that the petitioner
did not exhaust state remedies for his fourth claim, none of
Black's claims warrant habeas relief, and the Court may
deny a petition despite a petitioner's failure to exhaust
state remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2).
provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214
(Apr. 24, 1996), which govern this case,
“circumscribe[d]” the standard of review federal
courts must apply when considering an application for a writ
of habeas corpus raising constitutional claims, including
claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. See Wiggins
v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003). A federal court may
grant relief only if the state court's adjudication
“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, ” or if the adjudication “resulted in a
decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of
the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State
court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2).
established Federal law for purposes of § 2254(d)(1)
includes only the holdings, as opposed to the dicta,
of [the Supreme] Court's decisions.” White v.
Woodall, 572 U.S. 415, 419 (2014) (quotation marks and
citations omitted). “As a condition for obtaining
habeas corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must
show that the state court's ruling on the claim being
presented in federal court was so lacking in justification
that there was an error well understood and comprehended in
existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded
disagreement.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S.
86, 103, (2011). The distinction between mere error and an
objectively unreasonable application of Supreme Court
precedent creates a substantially higher threshold for
obtaining relief than de novo review. Mere error by
the state court will not justify issuance of the writ;
rather, the state court's application of federal law
“must have been objectively unreasonable.”
Wiggins, 539 U.S. at 520-21 (quoting Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 409 (2000) (quotation marks
omitted)). The AEDPA imposes a highly deferential standard
for evaluating state-court rulings and demands that
state-court decisions be “given the benefit of the
doubt.” Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773
(2010). Moreover, habeas review is “limited to the
record that was before the state court.” Cullen v.
Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 180 (2011).
state appellate courts' decisions were rendered in
summary orders, not reasoned opinions. Nonetheless, the
deference required nby the AEDPA stall must be afforded.
“Under [Harrington v. Richter], ‘[w]hen
a federal claim has been presented to a state court and the
state court has denied relief, it may be presumed that the
state court adjudicated the claim on its merits in the
absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles
to the ...