Mullins v. McKee
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PETITIONERS MOTION TO HOLDCASE IN ABEYANCE AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING CASE. Signed by District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow. (MLan)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
DEANDRE A. MULLINS,
Case Number: 2:11-CV-14678
HONORABLE ARTHUR J. TARNOW
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER’S MOTION TO HOLD
CASE IN ABEYANCE AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING CASE
Petitioner Deandre A. Mullins is a state inmate presently incarcerated at the Bellamy
Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan, pursuant to convictions for first-degree criminal
sexual conduct and assault with intent to rob while armed. He has filed a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the convictions on four grounds. He also has
filed a motion to hold case in abeyance in which he asks the Court to stay his petition while he
exhausts additional claims in state court.
Petitioner was convicted by a jury in Wayne County Circuit Court of first-degree
criminal sexual conduct and assault with intent to rob while armed. Petitioner filed an appeal of
right in the Michigan Court of Appeals, raising these claims:
Defendant-appellant is entitled to a new trial where the trial court erred in
admission of other acts evidence pursuant to MRE 404B.
One of the prosecution’s witnesses sequestered from the courtroom heard
evidence from one of the police reports and was allowed by the judge to still take
Defendant’s trial attorney was ineffective for failing to request a change of venue
due to pretrial publicity and failing to seek to close the courtroom in order to
prevent public exposure to information which, it was hoped, would be ruled
admissible, and defendant’s face was on the news two days before an impromptu
photo lineup was done and the jury was exposed to pretrial publicity that was
prejudicial to defendant.
The court erred in permitting the prosecution to play a surveillance videotape for
The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner’s convictions. People v. Mullins,
2010 WL 99003 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 12, 2010).
Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court. He
raised the same claims raised on direct review. The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to
appeal. People v. Mullins, 488 Mich. 910 (Mich. 2010).
Petitioner then filed the pending petition, raising the same claims raised on direct appeal.
He simultaneously filed a Motion to Hold Case in Abeyance.
Petitioner asks the court to stay his petition because he would like to exhaust additional
claims in state court – that his trial and appellate counsel were ineffective.
A prisoner who has not yet exhausted his or her state court remedies may file a
“‘protective’ petition in federal court and ask the federal court to stay and abey the federal
habeas proceedings until state remedies are exhausted.” Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 416
(2005), citing Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269 (2005). The “stay-and-abeyance” procedure is
available 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.
Petitioner states that his unexhausted claims were not presented in state court because his
attorney was ineffective. An appellate attorney cannot be expected to raise his own ineffective
assistance on appeal. Combs v. Coyle, 205 F.3d 269, 276 (6th Cir. 2000). Thus, the Court finds
that Petitioner has asserted good cause for failing previously to present these claims to the
Michigan Court of Appeals. In addition, the Court finds that these claims are not “plainly
meritless” and that Petitioner has not engaged in intentionally dilatory tactics. See Rhines, 544
U.S. at 277-78. Therefore, the Court stays further proceedings in this matter pending Petitioner’s
exhaustion of the unexhausted claims.
When a district court determines that a stay is appropriate pending resolution 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. To ensure that Petitioner does not delay in
exhausting his state court remedies, the Court imposes upon Petitioner time limits within which
he must proceed. 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. Petitioner
must also ask this court to lift the stay within sixty days of completing state court review. See id.
“If the conditions of the stay are not met, the stay may later be vacated nunc pro tunc as of the
date the stay was entered, and the petition may be dismissed.” Palmer, 276 F.3d at 781 (internal
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that Petitioner’s “Motion to Hold Case in Abeyance” is
GRANTED. The habeas petition is STAYED and further proceedings in this matter are held in
ABEYANCE. If Petitioner fails to file a motion for relief from judgment with the state trial
court within sixty days from the date of this order, the Court will dismiss the petition for writ of
habeas corpus without prejudice. Petitioner shall file a motion to lift the stay and an amended
petition in this Court within sixty days after the conclusion of the state court proceedings.
It is further ORDERED that, to avoid administrative difficulties, the Clerk of Court close
this case for statistical purposes only. Nothing in this order or in the related docket entry shall be
considered a dismissal of this matter. Upon receipt of a motion to lift the stay following
exhaustion of state remedies, the Court may order the Clerk to reopen this case for statistical
S/Arthur J. Tarnow
Arthur J. Tarnow
United States District Judge
Dated: November 9, 2011
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon parties/counsel of record
on November 9, 2011, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
S/Catherine A. Pickles
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