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Fulton v. Deangelo

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

January 6, 2020

DARRELL D. FULTON, # 688276, Petitioner,
v.
JODI DEANGELO, [1] Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Linda V. Parker Honorable Judge

         Darrell D. Fulton (“Petitioner”) is presently in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections pursuant to convictions for two counts of possession with intent to deliver less than 50 grams of heroin and delivery of less than 50 grams of heroin. Petitioner is seeking habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He raises two grounds in support of his request for relief: his sentence was based on misinformation of constitutional magnitude and the trial court abused its discretion by relying on inaccurate information and sentencing above the guidelines score. The Court finds that Petitioner's claims do not satisfy the strict standards for habeas corpus relief. It therefore is denying the petition.

         I. Background

         Petitioner was charged in two separate cases in the Circuit Court for Oakland County, Michigan (Nos. 11-39490 and 12-24095) with delivery of less than 50 grams of heroin and two counts of possession with intent to deliver less than 50 grams of heroin. On May 8, 2012, he pleaded guilty to all three charges and to being a fourth habitual offender. The trial court sentenced him, on July 10, 2012, to ten to fifty years' imprisonment for each of the convictions, to be served concurrently.

         Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals claiming that the trial court abused its discretion in not striking objected-to information from the presentence report, and that the trial court failed to articulate substantial and compelling reasons for the upward departure from the sentencing guidelines. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied Petitioner's application for leave to appeal “for lack of merit in the grounds presented.” People v. Fulton, No. 312122 (Mich. Ct. App. March 22, 2013). Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court. In lieu of granting leave to appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court remanded the case to the Oakland County Circuit Court to determine “whether the presentence report contains information that is inaccurate, relating to the defendant's prior criminal history.” People v. Fulton, 839 N.W.2d 491 (Mich. 2013).

         On remand, the trial court held that Petitioner's presentence information report contained no inaccuracies. (See 8/26/14 Oakland Cty. Cir. Ct. Order, ECF No. 8-8 at Pg. ID 833-34.) Upon Petitioner's motion for reconsideration, the trial court found a discrepancy between the presentence reports in Petitioner's two cases and ordered a probation agent to review Petitioner's entire juvenile and adult criminal record. (See 9/18/14 Oakland Cty. Cir. Ct. Order, ECF No. 8-8 at Pg. ID 835-36.) Following the review, the trial court found that Petitioner had three fewer felony convictions than reported and ordered the presentence reports amended. (See 12/1/14 Oakland. Cty. Cir. Ct. Order, ECF No. 8-8 at Pg. ID 222-23.) Nevertheless, the court held that correction of these errors did not impact the sentence imposed because, even without these convictions, Petitioner had thirteen prior felony convictions at the time he committed the offenses for which he was being sentenced. (Id.)

         Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals claiming that the trial court failed to follow the Michigan Supreme Court's remand order, mischaracterized Petitioner's motion, failed to apply the correct statutory guidelines range, and did not have a substantial and compelling reason for an upward departure. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal. People v. Fulton, No. 325830 (Mich. Ct. App. July 31, 2015), lv. denied 875 N.W.2d 218 (Mich. 2016).

         Petitioner then filed the pending petition for a writ of habeas. He asserts the following grounds for relief:

I. In relying on misinformation of a constitutional magnitude, the Michigan Courts have deprived the petitioner of his due process rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and have acted in contravention of clearly established United States Supreme Court precedent.
II. In relying on inaccurate information at sentencing, the decision of the trial court was wholly devoid of discretion, was an arbitrary and/or capricious abuse of discretion, and errors of law resulted in an improper exercise of discretion; the petitioner should have been sentenced within his guidelines score of 10 to 46 months, or the two years recommended by the probation department.

         II. Standard

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) imposes the following standard of review for habeas cases:

         An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim -

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the ...

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