Miller v. Ludwick
OPINION and ORDER Holding in Abeyance the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Administratively Closing the Case. Signed by District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff. (BSoc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CASE NO. 2:10-CV-10237
HONORABLE LAWRENCE P. ZATKOFF
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
OPINION AND ORDER HOLDING IN ABEYANCE THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF
HABEAS CORPUS AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING THE CASE.
Ruddene Miller, (“Petitioner”), confined at the St. Louis Correctional Facility in St. Louis,
Michigan, filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in which
he challenges his conviction for first-degree premeditated murder, M.C.L.A. 750.316(1)(a); firstdegree felony murder, M.C.L.A. 750.316(1)(b); and felony firearm, M.C.L.A. 750.227b. On July
13, 2010, petitioner filed a motion to hold the petition in abeyance so that he could return to the state
courts to file a post-conviction motion for relief from judgment to exhaust additional claims. On
March 15, 2011, petitioner filed a motion to amend the habeas petition in which he sought to add
four new claims for relief to his petition.
This Court denied the motion to amend the petition and gave petitioner thirty days to inform
the Court whether he wished to return to the state courts to present his unexhausted claims or
whether he wished to proceed only on his exhausted claims. The Court further advised petitioner
that if he informed the Court that he wished to pursue his unexhausted claims, the Court would then
decide whether to dismiss the petition without prejudice or stay further proceedings and hold the
petition in abeyance pending the exhaustion of state court remedies. Miller v. Ludwick, No. 2011
WL 1188745 (E.D. Mich. March 30, 2011). Petitioner has now informed the Court that he wishes
to pursue his unexhausted claims in the state courts and has again asked this Court to hold the
petition in abeyance pending his return to the state courts.
In order to stay federal proceedings and hold a habeas petition in abeyance pending
resolution of state court proceedings, there must be exceptional or unusual circumstances. See Sitto
v. Bock, 207 F. Supp. 2d 668, 676 (E.D. Mich. 2002). A federal district court is authorized to stay
fully exhausted federal habeas petitions pending the exhaustion of other claims in the state courts.
See Nowaczyk v. Warden, New Hampshire State Prison, 299 F.3d 69, 77-79 (1st Cir. 2002)(holding
that district courts should “take seriously any request for a stay.”); See also Bowling v. Haeberline,
246 Fed. Appx. 303, 306 (6th Cir. 2007)(A habeas court is entitled to delay a decision in a habeas
petition that contains only exhausted claims “when considerations of comity and judicial economy
would be served”)(quoting Nowaczyk, 299 F. 3d at 83).
The Court will grant petitioner’s motion to hold the petition in abeyance while he returns to
the state courts to exhaust additional claims. In this case, the outright dismissal of the petition, albeit
without prejudice, might result in preclusion of consideration of the petitioner's claims in this Court
due to the expiration of the one year statute of limitations contained in the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). A common circumstance
calling for abating a habeas petition arises when the original petition was timely filed, as was the
case here, but a second, exhausted habeas petition would be time barred by the AEDPA’s statute of
limitations. See Hargrove v. Brigano, 300 F. 3d 717, 720-21 (6th Cir. 2002). The U.S. Supreme
Court has suggested that a habeas petitioner who is concerned about the possible effects of his state
post-conviction filings on the AEDPA’s statute of limitations could file a “protective” petition in
federal court and then ask for the petition to be held in abeyance pending the exhaustion of state
post-conviction remedies. See Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 416 (2005)(citing Rhines v.
Weber, 544 U.S. 269 (2005)). A federal court may stay a federal habeas petition and hold further
proceedings in abeyance pending resolution of state court post-conviction proceedings, provided
there is good cause for failure to exhaust claims and that the unexhausted claims are not “plainly
meritless.” Rhines, 544 U.S. at 278.
However, even where a district court determines that a stay is appropriate pending
exhaustion of state court remedies, the district court “should place reasonable time limits on a
petitioner’s trip to state court and back.” Rhines, 544 U.S. at 278. Therefore, to ensure that there are
no delays by petitioner in exhausting his state court remedies, this Court will impose upon petitioner
time limits within which he must proceed with his state court post-conviction proceedings. See
Palmer v. Carlton, 276 F. 3d 777, 781 (6th Cir. 2002). Petitioner must present his claims in state
court within sixty days from the date of this Order. See id. Further, he must ask this Court to lift the
stay within sixty days of exhausting his state court remedies. See id.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the proceedings are STAYED and the Court will hold the
habeas petition in abeyance. Petitioner must file a motion for relief from judgment in state court
within sixty days of receipt of this order. He shall notify this Court in writing that such motion
papers have been filed in state court. If he fails to file a motion or notify the Court that he has done
so, the Court will lift the stay and will reinstate the original petition for writ of habeas corpus to the
Court’s active docket and will proceed to adjudicate only those claims that were raised in the
original petition. After petitioner fully exhausts his new claims, he shall file an amended petition
that includes the new claims within sixty days after the conclusion of his state court post-conviction
proceedings, along with a motion to lift the stay. Failure to do so will result in the Court lifting the
stay and adjudicating the merits of the claims raised in petitioner’s original habeas petition.
To avoid administrative difficulties, the Court ORDERS the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this
case for statistical purposes only. Nothing in this order or in the related docket entry shall be
considered a dismissal or disposition of this matter. See Sitto, 207 F. Supp. 2d at 677.
It is further ORDERED that upon receipt of a motion to reinstate the habeas petition
following exhaustion of state remedies, the Court may order the Clerk to reopen this case for
S/Lawrence P. Zatkoff
LAWRENCE P. ZATKOFF
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: May 26, 2011
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that a copy of this Order was served upon the attorneys of record
by electronic or U.S. mail on May 26, 2011.
S/Marie E. Verlinde
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