United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
STEPHEN A. STOCKS, Petitioner,
NOAH NAGY, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF
COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a habeas case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner Stephen
A. Stocks, proceeding pro se, challenges his
sentence of fifteen to thirty years for one count of unarmed
robbery, M.C.L. § 750.530. Petitioner contends that the
trial court relied on inaccurate information and engaged in
judicial fact-finding at his sentencing and that his trial
attorney was ineffective for failing to object to the scoring
of two offense variables. Respondent contends that the
petition should be denied because the scoring of state
sentencing guidelines is a non-cognizable question of state
law and because Petitioner was not prejudiced by any
constitutional error. For the reasons that follow, the
petition will be denied.
charge against Petitioner arose from an incident in St. Clair
County, Michigan on August 25, 2013. Petitioner approached a
91-year-old woman in the parking lot of a supermarket and
grabbed the woman's purse. In the process, both
Petitioner and the victim fell down. The victim broke her
hip; Petitioner was able to jump up and run away. The police
were called and one of Petitioner's acquaintances
identified Petitioner as the suspect. Petitioner was arrested
the next day and acknowledged his guilt to the police in a
November 12, 2013, Petitioner pleaded guilty as charged to
unarmed robbery. There was no plea agreement. The trial court
sentenced Petitioner as a fourth habitual offender to a term
of fifteen to thirty years in prison.
subsequently filed a motion to correct an invalid sentence
and for re-sentencing on the basis that offense variables 10
and 13 of the state sentencing guidelines were improperly
scored. The prosecutor conceded that offense variable 13 was
improperly scored, and, following an evidentiary hearing, the
trial court ruled that it had properly scored 10 points for
offense variable 10.
then challenged his sentence in an application for leave to
appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals. He argued there, as
he does here, that: (1) he was sentenced on the basis of
inaccurate information in violation of his constitutional
right to due process, and his trial attorney was ineffective
for failing to object to the scoring of offense variables 10
and 13; and (2) his constitutional rights were violated by
judicial fact-finding, which increased the floor of the
permissible sentence, in violation of Alleyne v. United
States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013). The Michigan Court of
Appeals denied leave to appeal for lack of merit. See
People v. Stocks, No. 324513 (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 15,
raised the same claims in the Michigan Supreme Court, which
initially held his case in abeyance, pending a decision in
the case of People v. Lockridge, Docket No. 149073.
See People v. Stocks, 863 N.W.2d 74 (Mich. 2015). On
July 29, 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its decision
in Lockridge. It held that Michigan's sentencing
guidelines violate a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to
a jury trial to the extent the guidelines require judicial
fact-finding beyond facts admitted by the defendant or found
by the jury to score offense variables that mandatorily
increase the floor of the guidelines minimum sentence range.
See People v. Lockridge, 870 N.W.2d 502, 506 (2015).
Michigan Supreme Court then reconsidered Petitioner's
application for leave to appeal and, in lieu of granting
leave to appeal, it remanded Petitioner's case to the
trial court for a determination of whether the trial court
would have imposed a materially different sentence under the
sentencing procedure described in Lockridge. The
Supreme Court denied leave to appeal in all other respects
because it was not persuaded to review the remaining issue.
See People v. Stocks, 870 N.W.2d 720 (Mich. 2015).
remand, the trial court issued an order which stated that,
after reviewing Petitioner's post-remand motion for
re-sentencing, and after considering the totality of the
facts and circumstances in the case, the court had determined
that it would not have imposed a materially different
sentence but for the Lockridge error. Consequently,
the court denied Petitioner's motion for re-sentencing.
See People v. Stocks, No. 13-002432-FH (St. Clair
Cty. Cir. Ct. Apr. 21, 2016).
appealed the trial court's decision on the basis that his
Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by
judicial fact-finding that increased the floor of the
permissible sentence in violation of Alleyne. The
Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal for lack of
merit. See People v. Stocks, No. 335352 (Mich. Ct.
App. Dec. 1, 2016). On May 31, 2017, the Michigan Supreme
Court denied leave to appeal because it was not persuaded to
review the issue. See People v. Stocks, 895 N.W.2d
178 (Mich. 2017). On October 3, 2017, the Michigan Supreme
Court denied Petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
See People v. Stocks, 901 N.W.2d 598 (Mich. 2017).
then filed the instant petition. He raises the following
claims, which have been presented to the Michigan Court of
Appeals and to the Michigan Supreme:
I. Petitioner was sentenced on the basis of inaccurate
information in violation of his Fifth Amendment right to due
process where offense variables 3, 10 and 13 were incorrectly
scored and trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
object to the scoring of offense variables 10 and 13.
II. Petitioner's Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment
rights were violated by judicial fact finding which increased
the floor of the permissible sentence in violation of
Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013), as
defined in Michigan by People v. Lockridge, 498
Mich. 358 (2015).
Standard of Review
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(AEDPA), as codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), provides:
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 ...