United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
T. NEFF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 28
U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of a petition
for habeas corpus, 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 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If so, the
petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen
v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district
court has the duty to “screen out” petitions that
lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes
those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well
as those containing factual allegations that are palpably
incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434,
436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required
by Rule 4, the Court concludes that the petition must be
dismissed because it fails to raise a meritorious federal
Cameron Daniel Burrows is incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections at the Bellamy Creek Correctional
Facility (IBC) in Ionia County, Michigan. Petitioner pleaded
nolo contendere in the Ottawa County Circuit Court
to reckless driving causing death, in violation of Mich.
Comp. Laws § 257.626(4), and to reckless driving causing
serious impairment of a body function, in violation of Mich.
Comp. Laws § 257.626(3). On December 18, 2017, the court
sentenced Petitioner as a fourth habitual offender, Mich.
Comp. Laws § 769.12, to concurrent prison terms of 9 to
attaches to his supporting brief the sentencing transcripts
from the Ottawa County Circuit Court. Those transcripts
reveal that Petitioner, on January 3, 2017, ran a red light
at a high rate of speed and collided with another vehicle,
killing one person and seriously injuring another.
(Sentencing Tr. II, ECF No. 2-1, PageID.70-72.) At
Petitioner's initial sentencing hearing, the judge
reported that he had received information about an incident
involving Petitioner many years prior-a snowmobile
accident-that resulted in the death of a young girl.
(Sentencing Tr. I, ECF No. 2-1, PageID.54-56.) Because the
judge anticipated the incident might be significant for
sentencing, he adjourned the hearing to permit the prosecutor
and defense counsel to explore the matter further.
court unquestionably considered the snowmobile accident when
it imposed sentence on December 18, 2017. The court described
the accident as follows: “[Y]ou were on a snowmobile at
age 16, probably going a little bit immoderate, and then the
victim was on an inner tube or fell off an inner tube or
something and then you ran into her . . . .”
(Sentencing Tr. II, ECF No. 2-1, PageID.69.) Petitioner
acknowledged he was going approximately 40 miles per hour and
came over a knoll where the victim was in the snow.
(Id., PageID.70.) He did not know she was there.
(Id.) He hit her.
court used that accident as a starting point in describing
the “unwise things” Petitioner had done.
(Id., PageID.72.) In recounting Petitioner's
history, the court described the snowmobile accident as
“operating a vehicle negligently.” (Id.,
minimum sentence guideline range was 50 to 200 months.
Determination of the range was based on application of the
Michigan sentencing guidelines. Based on the transcripts, the
1992 accident did not contribute to any of the guidelines
scoring that determined the range. Nonetheless, when the
court selected a minimum sentence of 108 months from within
that range, it was apparent he considered the snowmobile
with the assistance of counsel, filed an application for
leave to appeal his sentence in the Michigan Court of
Appeals. (Pet'r's Appl. for Leave to Appeal, ECF No.
2-1, PageID.81-92.) Petitioner argued that the court was
wrong to consider the incident from 25 years ago as evidence
of negligence or some future danger, particularly where there
were no criminal proceedings brought. Petitioner claimed that
the court, in relying on that incident, relied on inaccurate
information and that the resulting sentence was invalid. By
order entered July 18, 2018, the court of appeals denied
leave “for lack of merit in the grounds
presented.” (Mich. Ct. App. Order, ECF No. 2-1,
then filed a pro per application for leave to appeal
in the Michigan Supreme Court. That court denied leave by
order entered December 4, 2018. (Mich. Order, ECF No. 2-1,
September 27, 2019, Petitioner timely filed his habeas corpus
petition raising, essentially, the same ground for relief in
raised in the Michigan appellate courts: “The trial
court's decision to impose a harsher sentence after
considering materially untrue and inaccurate information
violated the Petitioner's due process rights guaranteed
by the Fourteenth Amendment, was contrary to clearly
established federal law and was based on an unreasonable
determination in light of the evidence presented to the
courts, meeting both requirements for habeas relief under the
AEDPA.” (Pet'r's Br., ECF No. 2, PageID.21.)
action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA).
The AEDPA “prevents federal habeas
‘retrials'” and ensures that state court
convictions are given effect to the extent possible under the
law. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002). An
application for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person
who is incarcerated pursuant to a state conviction cannot be
granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the
merits in state court unless the adjudication: “(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; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based upon an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light ...