United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF
COHN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a habeas case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Michigan prisoner
Zackary Williams (“Petitioner”), proceeding
pro se and without prepayment of the filing fee,
plead guilty to child sexually abusive activity, M.C.L.
§ 750.145c(2), and second-degree criminal sexual
conduct, M.C.L. § 750.520c. He was sentenced to
concurrent terms of 10 to 20 years imprisonment and 1 to 15
years imprisonment. Petitioner raises claims concerning the
validity of his sentence, the validity of his plea, the
denial of his plea withdrawal motion, and the effectiveness
of trial and appellate counsel. For the reasons which follow,
the petition will be denied.
Facts and Procedural History
convictions arise from his sexual abuse of a six-year-old
girl. He was charged with three counts of first-degree
criminal sexual conduct. Petitioner plead guilty to the
offenses described above in exchange for the dismissal of the
more serious charges and an agreement that he would be
sentenced to concurrent terms of 10 to 20 years imprisonment
and 1 to 15 years imprisonment and would be subject to sex
offender registration and a lifetime electronic tether upon
release from prison. Petitioner confirmed that he understood
the charges, the plea agreement, and the rights that he would
be giving up by entering a plea. He stated that he wanted to
plead guilty and that he was doing so of his own free will.
He admitted that he digitally penetrated a six-year-old girl
for his sexual gratification as the factual basis for his
sentencing, Petitioner moved to withdraw his plea alleging
that trial counsel was ineffective and that he was innocent.
The prosecution objected due to the age of the victim and the
delay in the case. The trial court denied the motion and
imposed the sentence set forth in the plea agreement.
filed a delayed application for leave to appeal with the
Michigan Court of Appeals asserting that the trial court
erred in denying his plea withdrawal motion because he was
innocent and pleaded guilty without the effective assistance
of counsel. The court of appeals denied the application
“for lack of merit in the grounds presented.”
People v. Williams, No. 316225 (Mich. Ct. App. June
11, 2013). The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave in a
standard order. People v. Williams, 838 N.W.2d 555
then filed a motion for relief from judgment with the trial
court challenging jurisdiction. The trial court denied the
motion for lack of merit under Michigan Court Rule
6.508(D)(3). People v. Williams, No. 12-011169-01
(Wayne Co. Cir. Ct. May 29, 2015). Petitioner filed a delayed
application for leave to appeal with the Michigan Court of
Appeals, which was denied for failure to “meet the
burden of establishing entitlement to relief under MCR
6.508(D).” People v. Williams, No. 328849
(Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 21, 2015). Petitioner did not seek leave
to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court.
also filed a second motion for relief from judgment with the
trial court seeking a remand for re-sentencing pursuant to
People v. Lockridge, 870 N.W.2d 502 (Mich. 2015).
The trial court denied the motion finding that his sentence
was “not the result of the sentencing guidelines, but
the consequence of the plea agreement.” People v.
Williams, No. 12-011169-01 (Wayne Co. Cir. Ct. March 1,
2016). Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to
appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals, which was denied
“for lack of merit in the grounds presented.”
People v. Williams, No. 332937 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept.
22, 2016). Petitioner also filed an application for leave to
appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which was denied in a
standard order. People v. Williams, 896 N.W.2d 442
thereafter filed the instant petition. He raises the
I. The trial court erred when it decided that his minimum
sentence was not established by the application of the
sentencing guidelines in a manner that violated the Sixth
Amendment, and he is entitled to a proper inquiry to
determine if re-sentencing is required.
II. The trial court erred in denying his plea withdrawal
motion where he is innocent and pleaded guilty without the
effective assistance of counsel.
III. Trial counsel failed to diligently defend his case,
denying him the opportunity to present a defense by failing
to investigate where counsel did not keep contact with him,
did not contact favorable witnesses, never obtained physical
evidence, failed to defend him during the plea withdrawal
motion, and independently and collectively denied him his
state and federal constitutional rights to the effective
assistance of counsel.
II. He was denied his right to the effective assistance of
counsel on appeal and right to due process where appellate
counsel argued ineffective assistance of trial counsel, but
failed to effectively recognize and argue meritorious facts
has filed an answer to the petition contending that it should
be denied because certain claims are barred by procedural
default and all of the claims lack merit.
Standard of Review
U.S.C. § 2241 sets forth the standard of review that
federal courts must use when considering habeas petitions
brought by prisoners challenging their state court
convictions. The statute provides in relevant part:
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.
28 U.S.C. §2254(d) (1996).
state court's decision is ‘contrary to' . . .
clearly established law if it ‘applies a rule that
contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court
cases]' or if it ‘confronts a set of facts that are
materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme]
Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from
[that] precedent.'” Mitchell v. Esparza,
540 U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003) ...