United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER (1) DENYING PETITIONER'S
REQUEST TO HOLD HIS PETITION IN ABEYANCE AND (2) DISMISSING
THE PETITION WITHOUT PREJUDICE
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter came before the Court on petitioner Antoine Raynez
Williams' pro se petition for the writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and petitioner's
request to hold his petition in abeyance pending exhaustion
of state remedies. Because the one-year statute of
limitations for habeas petitions does not appear to be a
problem, the Court is denying petitioner's request for a
stay and dismissing his petition without prejudice.
a jury trial in 2017, petitioner was convicted of armed
robbery and felony firearm. The trial court sentenced
petitioner to prison for twenty-five to forty years for the
robbery conviction and two years for the felony-firearm
conviction. (Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID. 1.) Petitioner alleges
that he did not appeal the judgment of conviction to the
Michigan Court of Appeals. (Pet., PageID. 2.) The Court,
however, takes judicial notice that petitioner appealed his
sentence on the basis that the trial court erroneously
assessed ten points for offense variable fourteen of the
Michigan sentencing guidelines. See People v.
Williams, No. 339770, 2019 WL 97150 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan.
3, 2019) (unpublished).
alleges that he raised the following three claims in the
Michigan Supreme Court: (1) the trial court abused its
discretion and clearly erred when assessing ten points; (2)
he was denied counsel at a critical stage; and (3) he is
unlawfully imprisoned in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment. (Pet., PageID. 2-3.) The Michigan Supreme Court
denied leave to appeal because it was not persuaded to review
the issues. See People v. Williams, 503 Mich. 1038;
927 N.W.2d 252 (2019) (table decision).
filed his habeas corpus petition on August 23, 2019. His
grounds for relief are: (1) the trial court abused its
discretion and clearly erred in assessing ten points for
offense variable four; (2) he was illegally arraigned in state
district court without the benefit of counsel; and (3) he is
incarcerated in violation of his constitutional right to due
process because Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.12(1)(a) (the
habitual-offender statute) was violated. (Pet., PageID. 5, 7,
September 16, 2019, petitioner filed a request to hold his
habeas petition in abeyance. He claims to have several new
issues that are based on newly-discovered evidence and that
have not yet been addressed by the state courts. He wants the
Court to hold his petition in abeyance while he exhausts
state remedies for his new claims. (Request, ECF No. 4,
doctrine of exhaustion of state remedies requires state
prisoners to give the state courts an opportunity to act on
their claims before they present their claims to a federal
court in a habeas corpus petition. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(b)(1), (c); O'Sullivan v. Boerckel,
526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999). This requirement is satisfied if
the prisoner “invok[es] one complete round of the
State's established appellate review process, ”
including a petition for discretionary review in the state
supreme court “when that review is part of the ordinary
appellate review procedure in the State.”
O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845, 847. Thus, to
properly exhaust state remedies, a prisoner must fairly
present the factual and legal basis for each of his claims to
the state court of appeals and to the state supreme court
before raising the claims in a federal habeas corpus
petition. Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 414-15 (6th
Cir. 2009). A federal district court ordinarily must dismiss
a petition containing any unexhausted claims. Rose v.
Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 510, 522 (1982).
apparently exhausted state remedies for his first claim
regarding of the scoring of offense variable fourteen by
raising that claim in the Michigan Court of Appeals and in
the Michigan Supreme Court. But he appears to be alleging
that he raised his second and third claims only in the
Michigan Supreme Court. See Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.
7, 9. The Michigan Court of Appeals, in fact, did not address
petitioner's second and third habeas claims in its
dispositive decision. Even if petitioner raised all his
current claims in both state appellate courts, he wants a
stay so that he can raise several more claims in state court
before presenting the new claims to this Court.
dismissal of a habeas petition while a petitioner pursues
state remedies for unexhausted claims can result in a
subsequently filed petition being barred by the statute of
limitations found in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). The Supreme
Court, therefore, has approved a stay-and-abeyance procedure
which permits a district court to hold a habeas petition in
abeyance while the petitioner returns to state court to
exhaust state remedies for previously unexhausted claims.
See Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 275-79 (2005).
present case, however, the statute of limitations does not
appear to pose a problem because the Michigan Supreme Court
denied leave to appeal on May 28, 2019. See
Williams, 503 Mich. 1038; 927 N.W.2d 252. Petitioner had
ninety days from that date to file a petition for writ of
certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. See
Sup. Ct. R. 13.1. Because he did not file a petition for
certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, see
Pet., PageID. 3, his convictions became final on August 26,
2019, when the deadline for seeking a writ of certiorari
expired. See Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 150
(2012) (stating that for petitioners who do not pursue direct
review all the way to the Supreme Court, “the judgment
becomes final at the ‘expiration of the time for
seeking such review'-when the time for pursuing direct
review in [the Supreme] Court, or in state court,
filed his habeas petition before the statute of limitations
began to run, and even if the Court dismisses the petition
now, the statute of limitations has run only a few months,
it will be tolled if petitioner promptly files a proper
motion for relief from judgment in state court. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d)(2). Although the statute of limitations is
likely to resume running at the conclusion of state
post-conviction proceedings, petitioner should be able to
return to this Court after exhausting state remedies without
running afoul of the statute of limitations. Accordingly, a
stay is unnecessary.
Court DENIES petitioner's request to hold his habeas
petition in abeyance (ECF No. 4) and DISMISSES the petition
(ECF No. 1) without prejudice. Petitioner may move to re-open
this case and file an amended petition for the writ ...