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Taylor v. Lindsey

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

September 25, 2019




         Charles Robert Taylor is a state prisoner currently confined in the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. On March 28, 2019, Taylor filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (See Pet., ECF No. 1.) In the petition, Taylor challenges his state-court conviction for second-degree murder. (See id.)

         On July 1, 2019, and July 18, 2019, Taylor filed two motions to stay this action so that he could return to state court in order to develop an additional evidentiary record. (See ECF Nos. 7, 8.)[1] The Court thereafter directed Taylor to file a supplemental brief to explain what evidence he needed that was not currently in the record, how the evidence he sought supported his petition, and why the Court needed that evidence to determine whether he is entitled to relief. (See Order, ECF No. 10.)

         Taylor timely filed the supplemental brief as directed. (See Supp. Br., ECF No. 11.) The Court has carefully reviewed Taylor’s submission and, for the reasons stated below, DENIES Taylor’s motions for a stay and DIRECTS Respondent to file a response to Taylor’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus.


         Taylor originally sought a stay of his petition so that he could “pursue in the state court a motion for the transcript of the warrant hearing and production of documents pertaining to his arrest” such as the state-court criminal complaint, warrant, and information. (ECF No. 7, PageID.144; ECF No. 8, PageID.144, 147.) Taylor insisted that those documents were “needed before relief may be granted or denied by this [C]ourt.” (Id.)

         In his supplemental brief, Taylor confirmed that he seeks to return to state court in order to gather evidence to support an attack on the legality of his arrest:

These documents are essential to this case because they will reveal newly discovered evidence of the illegal history of the manufacturing of false documents which goes to the fraudulent nature of the proceedings leading to the illegal arrest of Taylor.

(Supp. Br., ECF No. 11, PageID.159.)


         “[A] state prisoner seeking federal habeas relief must first ‘exhaus[t] the remedies available in the courts of the State, ’ 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), thereby affording those courts ‘the first opportunity to address and correct alleged violations of [the] prisoner’s federal rights.’” Walker v. Martin, 562 U.S. 307, 315 (2011) (quoting Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991)). Taylor requests a stay so that he may obtain evidence in the state courts that he deems necessary to the resolution of his petition, and he notes that claims related to that evidence were not raised properly in the state courts. (ECF No 7, PageID.145; ECF No. 8, PageID.148.)

         Federal district courts “ordinarily have authority to issue stays, where such a stay would be a proper exercise of discretion[.]” Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 276 (2005) (citing Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936); Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997)). In Rhines, the Supreme Court approved a “stay-and-abeyance” procedure that allows district courts to stay the federal proceeding and hold a habeas petition in abeyance while a petitioner returns to state court and raises his unexhausted claims there. Id. at 275. Rhines allows district courts to use the stay-and-abeyance procedure where a petitioner has good cause for the failure to exhaust his remedies in state court, the unexhausted claims are potentially meritorious, and the petitioner has not engaged in abusive litigation tactics. See Id . at 278.

         Here, Taylor’s claim of illegal arrest is not “potentially meritorious.” It is an “established rule that illegal arrest or detention does not void a subsequent conviction.” Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 119 (1975) (citing Frisbie v. Collins, 342 U.S. 519 (1952); Ker v. Illinois, 119 U.S. 436 (1886)). Therefore, “although a suspect who is presently detained may challenge the probable cause for that confinement, a conviction will not be vacated on the ground that the defendant was detained pending trial without a determination of probable cause.” Gerstein, 420 U.S. at 119. Simply put, Taylor’s attack on the lawfulness of his arrest, even if successful, would not require the Court to vacate his conviction in this federal habeas proceeding. Thus, there is no basis on which to stay these proceedings to allow Taylor to develop his unlawful-arrest claim in state court.

         However, Taylor has raised an exhausted claim in the petition that insufficient evidence supports his conviction. “[A] state prisoner is entitled to habeas corpus relief if a federal judge finds that ‘upon the record evidence adduced at the trial no rational trier of fact could have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.’” McDaniel v. Brown, 558 U.S. 120, 121 (2010) (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 324 (1979)). Accordingly, while a stay is not warranted because Taylor ...

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