United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
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
L. Ludington, United States District Judge.
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
following reasons, Jordan is not entitled to habeas corpus
relief. The amended petition will be denied and the case
charge against Jordan arose from an incident that occurred in
Detroit on September 8, 2013. The state court established the
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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