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Jordan v. Bauman

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

December 16, 2019

JOSEPH JORDAN, Petitioner,
v.
CATHERINE BAUMAN, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE AMENDED PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          Thomas L. Ludington, United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Joseph Jordan, a state prisoner at the Alger Correctional Facility in Munising, Michigan, has filed an amended pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF No. 8. The pleading challenges Jordan's Wayne County, Michigan conviction and sentence of thirteen to thirty years for armed robbery. Mich. Comp. Laws §750.529. Jordan alleges as grounds for relief that (1) the prosecution failed to introduce credible and sufficient evidence to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, (2) offense variable four of the Michigan sentencing guidelines was incorrectly scored and he was sentenced on inaccurate information, and (3) his constitutional rights were violated by fact-finding that increased the floor of the permissible sentence. Respondent argues that Jordan's first claim lacks merit, his second claim is not cognizable on habeas review and lacks merit, and his third claim is moot and lacks merit.

         For the following reasons, Jordan is not entitled to habeas corpus relief. The amended petition will be denied and the case closed.

         I.

         The charge against Jordan arose from an incident that occurred in Detroit on September 8, 2013. The state court established the following:

Jacqueline Holt, the complaining witness, stopped at a Citgo Gas Station at the intersection of Woodward and Euclid to replenish her car's gas tank. Holt walked into the gas station's store and prepaid for her fuel. Two other customers, Earl Hays and his wife (whose name does not appear in the record) followed Holt inside. As Holt returned to her vehicle, a man with “something in his hand” approached her, entered her “personal space, ” and “snatched” her necklace. Holt believed that the object was a gun. She screamed a curse at the thief, which attracted Hays's attention. As Holt's assailant ran behind the gas station, Hays followed. Holt then called the police.
The robber quickly eluded Hays, but Hays persisted with the chase. Hays finally located his quarry at a car wash located behind the gas station. The offender had apparently parked his car there while he committed his crime, leaving behind an unattended baby in a car seat. Hays confronted the man, who raised his shirt and displayed a .38 caliber handgun. Hays walked away.
Three days later, the police arrested defendant at the same gas station, and the prosecutor charged him with armed robbery, MCL 750.529. Hays and Holt each identified defendant during separate photographic lineups. Both also identified him at defendant's trial.
Holt recounted for the jury that defendant “had some kind of weapon in his hand” when he stole her necklace. She further testified that defendant had telephoned her from jail the night before the trial, apologizing and asking for forgiveness. Rather than comforting her, the call worried Holt, as she did not know how defendant had obtained her telephone number. Holt contacted the assistant prosecuting attorney assigned to the case to report her concerns.

Id.

         Jordan did not testify or present any witnesses. His defense was that the crime was at most a larceny from a person and not an armed robber because the larceny was completed before Hays observed the gun. The trial court instructed the jury on armed robbery and on the lesser included offenses of unarmed robbery and larceny from a person. On January 23, 2014, the jury found Jordan guilty as charged of armed robbery. On February 6, 2014, the trial court sentenced Jordan to prison for thirteen to thirty years.

         In an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals, Jordan challenged the sufficiency of the evidence at trial, the scoring of offense variable four of the Michigan sentencing guidelines, and certain fact-finding at his sentencing. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Jordan's conviction and sentence in an unpublished, per curiam opinion. See Jordan, 2015 WL 3766797.

         Jordan raised the same three claims in the Michigan Supreme Court, which reversed in part the judgment of the Michigan Court of Appeals rather than granting leave to appeal. The Michigan Supreme Court remanded the case to the Wayne County Circuit Court for a determination of whether it would have imposed a materially different sentence under the sentencing procedure described in People v. Lockridge, 870 N.W.2d 502 (Mich. 2015). The State Supreme Court denied leave to appeal in all other respects because it was not persuaded to review the remaining issues. See People v. Jordan, 875 N.W.2d 199 (Mich. 2016).

         On March 6, 2017, while Jordan's criminal case was pending on remand in the Wayne County Circuit Court, Jordan filed his initial habeas corpus petition. ECF No. 1. Simultaneously, he filed a motion to hold his petition in abeyance because the Wayne County Circuit Court had not yet issued a final decision on remand from the Michigan Supreme Court. On May 16, 2017, the Court granted Jordan's motion for a stay and closed the case for administrative purposes. ECF No. 6.

         On June 6, 2018, the state trial court reaffirmed its initial sentence in Jordan's case. See People v. Jordan, No. 13-008896-01-FC (Wayne Cty. Cir. Ct. June 6, 2018). Jordan did not appeal the trial court's decision. Instead, on August 6, 2018, he filed an amended petition for the writ of habeas corpus, ECF No. 8, and a motion to lift the Court's stay and re-open his case. ECF No. 7. On February 4, 2019, the Court granted Jordan's motion and re-opened this case. ECF No. 10. The State subsequently filed an answer in opposition to the amended petition. ECF No. 12.

         II.

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) requires prisoners who challenge “a matter ‘adjudicated on the merits in State court' to show that the relevant state court ‘decision' (1) ‘was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law,' or (2) ‘was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.' ” Wilson v. Sellers, 138 S.Ct. 1188, 1191 (2018) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)). “[A] federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 411 (2000). “AEDPA thus imposes a ‘highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings,' Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333, n. 7, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997), and ‘demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt,' Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24, 123 S.Ct. 357, 154 L.Ed.2d 279 (2002) (per curiam).” Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010).

         “A state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). To obtain a writ of habeas corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on his or her claim “was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.” Id. at 103. Thus, “[o]nly an ‘objectively unreasonable' mistake, [White v. Woodall, 572 U.S. 415, 419 (2014)], one ‘so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement,' slips through the needle's eye of § 2254.” Saulsberry v. Lee, 937 F.3d 644, 648 (6th Cir. 2019) (quoting Richter, 562 U.S. at 103), cert. denied, S.Ct., No. 19-419, 2019 WL 5301304 (U.S. Oct. 21, 2019). A ...


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