United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
DAVID P. HOVARTER, Petitioner,
S.L. BURT, Respondent.
T. Neff United States District Judge
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
David P. Hovarter is incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections at the Muskegon Correctional
Facility (MCF) in Muskegon, Michigan. In 2017, Petitioner
pleaded guilty in the Ingham County Circuit Court to one
count of second degree criminal sexual conduct, in violation
of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520c(1)(B) (CSC-II), and one
count of third degree criminal sexual conduct, in violation
of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520d(1)(a) (CSC-III). On June
7, 2017, the circuit court sentenced Petitioner to concurrent
prison terms of 7 to 15 years.
appealed the judgment of sentence to the Michigan Court of
Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. Those courts
summarily denied leave to appeal on January 23, 2018, and
July 3, 2018, respectively.
timely filed his habeas corpus petition with this Court in
July 2019, raising the following two grounds for relief:
I. The trial court incorrectly scored my sentencing
guidelines, in violation of my rights to statutory law and
constitutional due process.
II. The trial court violated my right to meaningful
allocution at sentencing.
(Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.4-6.) Petitioner asserts that he
raised these same two issues in his appeal.
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
evidence presented in the state court proceeding.” 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d). This standard is “intentionally
difficult to meet.” Woods v. Donald, 575 U.S.
__, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015) (internal quotation omitted).
AEDPA limits the source of law to cases decided by the United
States Supreme Court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This Court
may consider only the holdings, and not the dicta, of the
Supreme Court. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412
(2000); Bailey v. Mitchell, 271 F.3d 652, 655 (6th
Cir. 2001). In determining whether federal law is clearly
established, the Court may not consider the decisions of
lower federal courts. Lopez v. Smith, 574 U.S. 1, 4
(2014); Marshall v Rodgers, 569 U.S. 58, 64 (2013);
Parker v Matthews, 567 U.S. 37, 48-49 (2012);
Williams, 529 U.S. at 381-82; Miller v.
Straub, 299 F.3d 570, 578-79 (6th Cir. 2002).
federal habeas court may issue the writ under the
“contrary to” clause if the state court applies a
rule different from the governing law set forth in the
Supreme Court's cases, or if it decides a case
differently than the Supreme Court has done on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts. Bell, 535 U.S.
at 694 (citing Williams, 529 U.S. at 405-06).
“To satisfy this high bar, a habeas petitioner is
required to ‘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.'” Woods, 135
S.Ct. at 1376 (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562
U.S. 86, 103 (2011)). In other words, “[w]here ...