United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
M. LAWSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
William Glenn Jack presently is in the custody of the
Michigan Department of Corrections serving a prison sentence
for third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He filed a pro
se petition for a writ of habeas corpus raising three
issues, all relating to his sentence. The first and third â
that the sentencing court incorrectly scored certain offense
variables and a prior record variable under the state's
sentencing guideline regime â raise issues of state law that
a federal court does not deal with under section 2254. He
also alleges that his attorney was ineffective because he did
not object to the perceived guideline scoring errors. That
certainly is a federal claim that can be raised in a section
2254 petition, but it does not help Jack because the state
appellate courts have rejected those sentencing arguments,
and Jack's attorney cannot be faulted for not raising
them. Therefore, the petition will be denied summarily.
pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the Kalamazoo County,
Michigan circuit court to third-degree criminal sexual
conduct, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520D(1)(b), and was
sentenced as a third habitual offender to a prison term of
six years, six months to thirty years. He did not file a
direct appeal, but he did file a post-conviction motion for
relief from judgment, which was denied. People v.
Jack, No. 2015-1734-FH (Kalamazoo Cty.Cir.Ct., Apr. 13,
2018) (ECF No. 1, PageID.39 - 46). The Michigan appellate
courts also denied relief. People v. Jack, No.
344726 (Mich.Ct.App. Oct 18, 2018); leave denied,
929 N.W.2d 343 (Mich. 2019) (Table).
then filed the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus
asserting the following issues:
I. Whether the trial court improperly scored Offense
Variables 10, 12, and 13, resulting in the imposition of an
invalid sentence and depriving the petitioner of his right to
a fair trial, due process, and equal protection under the
Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.
II. Whether the petitioner's counsel provided ineffective
assistance under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments by
failing to object to the allegedly improper scoring of the
Sentence Guidelines offense variables.
III. Whether the trial court erroneously scored the
petitioner 50 points for Prior Record Variable 2, where one
of the felonies counted was pled down to a misdemeanor and
his sentence was allegedly based on inaccurate information.
warden has not been ordered to answer the petition.
federal court may issue a writ of habeas corpus at the behest
of a state prisoner “only on the ground that he is in
custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). After
a petition for habeas corpus is filed, 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 also 28
U.S.C. § 2243. If, after preliminary consideration, the
Court determines that the petitioner is not entitled to
relief, the Court must dismiss the petition summarily.
McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856; Carson v.
Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1999); Rule 4, Rules
Governing § 2254 Cases; see also Allen v.
Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (holding that
the district court has the duty to “screen out”
petitions that lack merit on their face). No response to a
habeas petition is necessary if the petition is frivolous,
obviously lacks merit, or if the necessary facts can be
determined from the petition itself without considering a
response from the State. See Allen, 424 F.2d at 141;
Robinson v. Jackson, 366 F.Supp.2d 524, 525 (E.D.
qualify for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the
petitioner must show that the state court decision on a
federal issue “was contrary to, or involved an
unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law,
as determined by the Supreme Court, ” or amounted to
“an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of
the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.”
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2); Franklin v.
Francis, 144 F.3d 429, 433 (6th Cir. 1998). The analysis
of a petitioner's claim is limited to consideration of
“the law as it was ‘clearly established' by
[Supreme Court] precedents at the time of the state
court's decision, ” Wiggins v. Smith, 539
U.S. 510, 520 (2003). Under that review standard, mere error
by the state court does not justify issuance of the writ;
rather, the state court must have applied federal
law in a way that is “objectively unreasonable.”
Wiggins, 539 U.S. at 520-21 (quoting Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 409 (2000)).
contends that the state court incorrectly calculated his
sentencing guideline range under the Michigan Sentencing
Guidelines. He is not entitled to relief on this ground.
State courts are the final arbiters of state law. See
Bradshaw v. Richey,546 U.S. 74, 76 (2005); Sanford
v. Yukins,288 F.3d 855, 860 (6th Cir. 2002). And
“federal habeas corpus relief does not lie for errors
of state law.” Kissner v. Palmer, 826 F.3d
898, 902 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting Estelle v.
McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67 (1991)). Therefore, claims that
challenge a state court's sentencing decision under state
law normally are not cognizable on federal habeas review,
unless the habeas petitioner can show that the sentence
imposed exceeded the statutory limits or is wholly
unauthorized by law. See Vliet v. Renico, 193
F.Supp.2d 1010, ...