Wayne McCarty v. Carmen Palmer
Per Curiam OPINION filed : VACATED and REMANDED to the district court with instructions to address the merits of those claims that it previously found to be procedurally defaulted; decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Boyce F. Martin , Jr., Jeffrey S. Sutton, Circuit Judges and Bobby R. Baldock, U.S. Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, sitting by designation.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 12a0146n.06
Feb 07, 2012
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
CARMEN PALMER, Warden,
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF
BEFORE: MARTIN, SUTTON, and BALDOCK, Circuit Judges.*
PER CURIAM. Wayne McCarty appeals a district court judgment denying his petition for
a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
A jury found McCarty guilty of assault with the intent to commit murder. The trial court
sentenced him to twenty-five to fifty years of imprisonment. On direct appeal, McCarty argued that
the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence and by allowing the victim to be present in the
courtroom. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed McCarty’s conviction. People v. McCarty,
No. 242792, 2003 WL 22928926, at *2 (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 11, 2003). McCarty did not file an
appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court.
McCarty subsequently filed a motion for relief from judgment with the trial court, asserting
that he was improperly denied the opportunity to question the victim, that the prosecutor engaged
The Honorable Bobby R. Baldock, Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for
the Tenth Circuit, sitting by designation.
-2in misconduct, that his sentence was unconstitutional, and that his trial and appellate counsel were
ineffective. The trial court denied the motion. The Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan
Supreme Court denied McCarty leave to appeal under Michigan Court Rule 6.508(D).
McCarty then filed his habeas corpus petition, asserting the same claims that he raised in his
motion for relief from judgment. A magistrate judge recommended denying McCarty’s ineffective
assistance of appellate counsel claim as meritless and denying the remaining claims as procedurally
defaulted. Upon de novo review of the magistrate judge’s report, the district court dismissed
McCarty’s habeas corpus petition, adopting the magistrate judge’s report. Recognizing that a
pending en banc decision of our circuit could change the outcome, however, the district court issued
a certificate of appealability on the single issue of whether the majority of McCarty’s claims were
procedurally defaulted. This court declined to expand the certificate of appealability.
On appeal, McCarty argues that the district court erred by concluding that the majority of his
claims were procedurally defaulted. A federal habeas corpus claim is procedurally defaulted when
a petitioner fails to comply with a state procedural rule, the state courts enforce the rule, the rule is
an adequate and independent state ground for denying review of a federal constitutional claim, and
no cause and prejudice excusing the default have been established. Jalowiec v. Bradshaw, 657 F.3d
293, 302 (6th Cir. 2011). To determine whether a state procedural rule was applied to bar a claim,
we look to the last reasoned state-court decision disposing of the claim. Id. We apply a presumption
that, “[w]here there has been one reasoned state judgment rejecting a federal claim, later unexplained
orders upholding that judgment or rejecting the same claim rest upon the same ground.” Ylst v.
Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 803 (1991).
-3Because Michigan’s Rule 6.508(D) form orders were unexplained, see Guilmette v. Howes,
624 F.3d 286, 289-92 (6th Cir. 2010) (en banc), the last reasoned state-court decision that rejected
McCarty’s claims was the trial court’s denial of his motion for relief from judgment. That decision
addressed McCarty’s claims on the merits, rather than clearly and expressly relying on a procedural
bar. See Bowling v. Parker, 344 F.3d 487, 498-99 (6th Cir. 2003). Applying the presumption that
the later unexplained orders rest upon the same ground, we must conclude that the state courts of
Michigan did not enforce a procedural rule to bar McCarty’s claims and that, as a result, his claims
are not procedurally defaulted. See Guilmette, 624 F.3d at 291-92.
Accordingly, we vacate the district court’s judgment. On remand, the district court is
instructed to address the merits of those claims that it previously found to be procedurally defaulted.
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