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Medina-Rodriguez v. Sprader

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

July 25, 2019

JAMES WILLIAM MEDINA-RODRIGUEZ, Petitioner,
v.
SCOTT SPRADER, Respondent.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney, United States District Judge.

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. 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 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see 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 dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court concludes that the petition must be dismissed because it fails to raise a meritorious federal claim.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Petitioner James William Medina-Rodriguez is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF) in Munising, Michigan. In 2017, Petitioner pleaded guilty in the Kent County Circuit Court to armed robbery, in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529. On May 30, 2017, the circuit court sentenced Petitioner to a prison term of 8 to 30 years.

         Petitioner appealed his sentence to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court, raising one claim:

MCL 77[7].49 WAS IMPROPERLY APPLIED TO DEFENDANT'S SENTENCE BECAUSE IT IS VOID FOR VAGUENESS. THE SENTENCE MUST BE VACATED AND THE CASE MUST BE REMANDED FOR RESENTENCING.

(Attach. A to Pet., ECF No. 1-2, PageID.20.)

         The Michigan Court of Appeals summarily denied leave to appeal on January 26, 2018 “for lack of merit in the grounds presented.” People v. Medina-Rodriguez, No. 341298 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 26, 2018). The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal on September 12, 2018, because it was not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by that court.

         Petitioner filed this action in July 2019, apparently raising the same claim that he presented on appeal. He asserts:

PETITIONER'S FIRST, FIFTH[, ] SIXTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED WHERE MICH. COMP. LAWS. § 77[7]49 WAS IMPROPERLY APPLIED TO PETITIONER'S SENTENCE BECAUSE IT IS VOID FOR VAGUENESS. THE SENTENCE MUST BE VACATED AND THE CASE REMANDED FOR RESENTENCING.

(Attach. C to Pet., ECF No. 1-2, PageID.22.)

         II. AEDPA standard

         This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA). The AEDPA “prevents federal habeas ‘retrials'” and ensures that state court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under the law. Bell v. Cone,535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002). An application for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person who is incarcerated pursuant to a state conviction cannot be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the adjudication: “(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 upon an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the ...


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