United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY OR LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
NANCY G. EDMUNDS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
Dejuan Dale, ("Petitioner"), confined at the Brooks
Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. In his pro se application, petitioner
challenges his convictions for second-degree murder, M.C.L.A.
750.317, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a
felony (felony-firearm), M.C.L.A. 750.227b. For the reasons
that follow, the petition for writ of habeas corpus is
was originally charged with first-degree murder and
felony-firearm. On the day scheduled for trial, the
prosecutor offered to let petitioner plead guilty to a
reduced charge of second-degree murder and guilty as charged
to the felony-firearm charge, in exchange for dismissal of
the first-degree murder charge. The prosecutor also agreed
that petitioner would receive a sentence of fifteen to thirty
years on the second-degree murder charge. (Tr. 7/10/13, p.
6)(ECF 22-3, Pg ID 248). Defense counsel indicated that he
had discussed the plea and sentence agreement several times
with petitioner as well as the evidence against him. Counsel
asked petitioner if he wanted to plead guilty. Petitioner
initially stated: "No." The judge asked defense
counsel if he had informed petitioner that the first-degree
murder charge carries a sentence of life without parole.
Petitioner acknowledged that counsel had informed him of the
penalty. Defense counsel indicated on the record that he
believed it was in petitioner's best interest to accept
the plea. The judge stated that his courtroom deputy would
permit petitioner to speak with his family about the plea
offer. (Id., pp. 7-9)(ECF 22-3, Pg ID 249-51).
petitioner spoke with his family, he agreed to plead guilty.
The terms of the plea and sentence agreement were placed on
the record, (/of., pp. 9-10)(ECF 22-3, Pg ID 251-52). The
judge questioned petitioner extensively. Petitioner admitted
that he had reviewed and signed the guilty plea form.
Petitioner indicated he discussed the matter with his counsel
and was satisfied with his representation. Petitioner was
advised of the penalties for the charges that he would be
pleading guilty, as well as the rights he would be giving up
by pleading guilty. (Id., pp. 11-15)(ECF 22-3, Pg ID
253-257). In response to a question from the judge,
petitioner expressly denied that any threats or coercion had
been used to induce his plea. Petitioner said it was his own
free will to plead guilty. (Id., p. 15)(ECF 22-3, Pg
ID 257). Petitioner admitted to shooting and killing the
victim. (Id., pp. 16-17)(ECF 22-3, Pg ID 258-59).
was sentenced on August 5, 2013. Defense counsel asked that
petitioner be sentenced in accordance with the sentence
agreement, although he acknowledged that petitioner wished to
address the court. (Tr. 8/5/13, p. 12)(ECF 22-4, Pg ID 273).
Petitioner informed the judge that he wanted to withdraw his
plea, informing her that it was never his intent to plead
guilty and essentially claimed that his attorney had
petitioner's family members pressure him into pleading
guilty. Petitioner also claimed he had requested another
lawyer from the court on June 25th, after
petitioner complained about his counsel's representation,
but that the judge denied his request for substitute counsel.
(Id., pp. 13-15)(ECF 22-4, Pg ID 274-76). The judge
denied petitioner's request to withdraw his plea.
(Id., pp. 15-16)(ECF 22-4, Pg ID 276-77). The judge
sentenced petitioner to fifteen to thirty years in prison on
the second-degree murder charge and two years in prison on
the felony-firearm conviction. (Id., pp. 18-19)(ECF
22-4, Pg ID 279-80).
conviction was affirmed on appeal. People v. Dale,
No. 319850 (Mich.Ct.App. March 11, 2014); Iv. den.
496 Mich. 867, 849 N.W.2d 349 (2014).
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254, which was held in abeyance to permit
petitioner to return to the state courts to exhaust
additional claims which had not yet been presented to the
filed a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment,
which was denied. People v. Dale, No.
12-008766-01-FC (Wayne Cty.Cir.Ct., Nov. 15, 2016). The
Michigan appellate courts denied petitioner leave to appeal.
People v. Dale, No. 338383 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 15,
2017); Iv. den. 501 Mich. 1081, 911 N.W.2d 715
Court subsequently permitted petitioner to reopen his case
and to amend his habeas petition. Petitioner seeks habeas
relief on the following grounds: (1) petitioner should have
been permitted to withdraw his guilty plea because it was
coerced by his lawyer and family and petitioner maintained
his innocence, (2) petitioner was denied the effective
assistance of trial counsel where his counsel failed to
investigate the case or contact alibi witnesses, (3)
petitioner was denied the effective assistance of appellate
counsel, and (4) petitioner's sentencing guidelines were
incorrectly scored; trial counsel was ineffective in failing
Standard of Review
U.S.C. § 2254(d) provides that:
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;
(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.
decision of a state court is "contrary to" clearly
established federal law if the state court arrives at a
conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a
question of law or if the state court decides a case
differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of materially
indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529
U.S. 362, 405- 06 (2000). An "unreasonable
application" occurs when "a state court decision
unreasonably applies the law of [the Supreme Court] to the
facts of a prisoner's case." Id. at 409. A
federal habeas court may not "issue the writ simply
because that court concludes in its independent judgment that
the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established
federal law erroneously or incorrectly." Id. at
Claim #1. The plea withdrawal claim.
first contends that he should have been permitted to withdraw
his guilty plea because he was coerced into pleading guilty
by his attorney and his family. Petitioner also claims that
he should ...