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Robertson v. Rivard

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

July 18, 2019

REGINALD ADAM ROBERTSON, Petitioner,
v.
STEVEN RIVARD, Respondent,

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          DAVID M. LAWSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Reginald Adam Robertson pleaded guilty to carjacking, robbery, assault, and firearms offenses. After he was sentenced to prison and his state court appeals yielded no relief, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Robertson argues that the trial court erred by accepting his guilty pleas without making an adequate inquiry into the breakdown in his relationship between him and his court-appointed attorney. Because Roberston has not shown that the state courts disposed of his claims in violation of federal law, the Court will deny his petition.

         I.

         Robertson was charged with numerous felonies arising out of five different carjackings that had taken place in Detroit, Michigan. His attorney negotiated a plea agreement with the prosecutor in which three of the cases would be dismissed and Robertson would plead guilty in the remaining two cases to two counts of carjacking, two counts of armed robbery, one count of felonious assault, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony firearm). The parties also agreed that Robertson would be sentenced to four concurrent sentences of 9 to 20 years for carjacking and armed robbery.

         Robertson initially rejected the plea offer and expressed a desire to go to trial. After a recess in the plea hearing, the parties announced that Robertson decided to plead guilty. Robertson was sworn in and informed the judge he had signed the plea forms. However, when the judge asked him whether he was satisfied with his attorney, he replied “No, not really.” Hrg. Tr. at 17, ECF No. 10-8, PageID.310. When the judge asked Robertson to explain, the following exchange took place:

MR. ROBERTSON: I'm going to tell you the truth, like I wrote you in the letter, I'm not going to lie, I took the plea. But there's been a breakdown between me and Mr. Parker since I met him as my lawyer. He just started working on my case. There's no point for me to go to trial and lose.
THE COURT: Well, we've had many pretrials in these matters, and Mr. Parker was present when he argued the motions in this case.
MR. ROBERTSON: I know.
THE COURT: And you know, he's one of the most experienced attorneys in this county in criminal defense. So, you know, you don't have to go forward with this, we have trials set up.
MR. ROBERTSON: That's what I want to do?
THE COURT: You don't want to plead?
MR. ROBERTSON: I'll plead.
THE COURT: So you want to go forward?
MR. ROBERTSON: Yes, Ma'am.

Id. at 17-18, PageID.310-11. ...


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