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Rodriguez v. Rewerts

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

July 12, 2019

EZRA RODRIGUEZ, #979211, Petitioner,
v.
RANDEE REWERTS, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE AMENDED HABEAS PETITION, DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

          ARTHUR J. TARNOW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         This is a habeas case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Michigan prisoner Ezra Rodriguez was convicted of four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony pursuant to a plea in the Wayne County Circuit Court and was sentenced to concurrent terms of 23 to 35 years imprisonment and a consecutive term of two years imprisonment on those convictions in 2016. In his pro se habeas petition, as amended, he raises claims concerning the validity of his sentences.

         Promptly after the filing of a habeas petition, a federal district 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 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. McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994); Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1999); Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases. 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. 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, the Court finds that Petitioner is not entitled to relief on his sentencing claims and his habeas petition must be denied.

         II. Facts and Procedural History

         Petitioner's convictions arise from his carjacking, kidnapping, armed robbery, and sexual assault of a woman on April 8, 2015. Following his plea and sentencing, Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals asserting that he is entitled to re-sentencing where his sentences are disproportionately harsh and unreasonable and a violation of his state and federal constitutional rights. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal for lack of merit in the grounds presented. People v. Rodriguez, No. 339141 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 17, 2017) (unpublished). Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied in a standard order. People v. Rodriguez, 501 Mich. 1062, 910 N.W.2d 293 (May 1, 2018).

         Petitioner subsequently instituted this federal action. In his habeas petition, as amended, he raises the following claims: (1) disproportionate sentencing, and (2) due process right to be sentenced using accurate information.

         III. Standard of Review

         The provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq., govern this case because Petitioner filed his petition after the AEDPA's effective date. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997). The AEDPA provides:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim--
(1) 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
(2) 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) (1996). Additionally, a federal habeas court must presume the correctness of state court factual determinations. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

         IV. ...


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