United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Andrew J. Phillips-Addis, Petitioner,
Les Parish, Respondent.
L. Maloney 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
Andrew J. Phillips-Addis is incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections at the Oaks Correctional Facility
(ECF) in Manistee County, Michigan. Petitioner pleaded guilty
in the Delta County Circuit Court to assault with intent to
do great bodily harm (AGBH), in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.84. On November 6, 2017, the court sentenced
Petitioner as a third habitual offender, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 769.11, to a prison term of 8 to 20 years.
October 24, 2019, Petitioner filed his initial habeas corpus
petition. On November 7, 2019, he filed his first amended
petition raising four grounds for relief, as follows:
I. A person pleading guilty to a crime not committed is an
error in the plea taking process.
II. [Petitioner] should have been allowed to withdraw his
plea where his attorney was constitutionally ineffective when
he failed to review the video and interview Nathan Gartland[,
the victim, ] to testify before advising [Petitioner] on
whether to withdraw his plea.
III. Petitioner is being held in the Michigan Department of
Corrections unlawfully by [a] name [that is] not his.
IV. The Delta County Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction.
(Am. Pet., ECF No. 3, PageID.36, 40.)
rambling amended petition and the attached exhibits disclose
the following facts. On July 27, 2017, Petitioner was housed
in the Delta County Jail. The victim, Nathan Gartland, was
housed there as well. Gartland was laying on his back on
seats by a table. Petitioner walked over to him with a towel,
placed the towel around Gartland's neck, pulled Garland
to the ground, and dragged Garland by the towel to the door.
The incident was captured on camera. Petitioner acknowledged
at his plea hearing that he “wrapped a towel around
Nathan Gartland's neck, tried to kill him.”
entered a nolo contendere plea to the charge. But,
after he entered his plea and before he was sentenced, he
claimed that he and Gartland staged the entire assault.
Petitioner staged the assault to avoid extradition to
Wisconsin. The staged assault “was to force the state
of Michigan justice system [to] stop [Petitioner from] going
back to Wisconsin state prison system.” (Am. Pet., ECF
No. 3, PageID.35.) The entire “crime” was
“actually [a] fraud on Michigan state and Wisconsin
States justice system.” (Id.) The goal was to
“force Delta County [to] make him . . . stay in the
state of Michigan.” (Id.)
Petitioner's plea, however, he disclosed the plot to the
court and prosecutor by way of a letter. Petitioner's
disclosures in the letter forced the court, the prosecutor,
and Petitioner's counsel, to reconsider further
proceedings in the case. The prosecutor “gave
[Petitioner] a chance to withdraw the false case and . . .
drop [the] false charges, but then [Petitioner would . . .
lose his discharge from [the] Wisconsin case . . . .”
(Id., PageID.39.) Petitioner could not abide that
result because his “life was at risk in Wisconsin state
[prison] system, due [to] gang [problems.]”
counsel knew that Petitioner was hoping to get at least a
five-year sentence in Michigan because Petitioner felt that
with a sentence that long, Wisconsin would drop its hold on
him. (Id., PageID.57, 67.) After Petitioner
disclosed the fraud, he informed his counsel that he wanted
to go forward with sentencing anyway. (Id.,
PageID.65-66.) In Petitioner's letter(s) to the court and
prosecutor, he disclosed additional crimes, in addition to
the fraud he had perpetrated on the court. (Id.,
PageID.68-70.) Counsel advised Petitioner that, should
Petitioner withdraw his plea in the pending case, he might
face a potential life sentence because of his criminal
history; and, in addition, he might face prosecution for
offered to withdraw:
I was a little concerned that I felt as an attorney that if
it was true, that it was all a concoction, then the service
that I had rendered in good faith were utilized to defraud
the Court, I didn't feel that that was a very fair
bargain and I think that would kind of destroy the normal
relationship between an attorney and client.
(Id., PageID.70.) Counsel explained how he responded
to the information that Petitioner and Gartland had made up
I don't actually recall verbatim the conversation that I
had with [Petitioner] after learning that it was an alleged
concoction. I think my view a little bit of it is it's
really not my job to determine guilt or innocence of my
client, but to present the relative strengths and weaknesses
of any particular course of action. So I don't know at
that time I was overzealous about examining whether or not he
actually did concoct it. I was talking to him-I think the
summation of my conversations with him was more about the
implications of various courses of action.
(Id., PageID.72.) Counsel acknowledged that he had
seen the video recording of the assault; but, he did not
review it after Petitioner disclosed the concoction or
interview Gartland to confirm Petitioner's story.
(Id., PageID.72-76.) Because counsel believed
Petitioner wanted to go forward with sentencing-and
Petitioner's representations in his habeas submissions
support that belief- Petitioner went forward with the
sentencing. But, “after sentencing was done and
Wisconsin started [their] end of letting [Petitioner be]
discharged . . . [, Petitioner] wanted to back out [of] the
state of Michigan deals . . ...