Woods v. Palmer
OPINION and ORDER Dismissing 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Denying Certificate of Appealability. Signed by District Judge Paul D. Borman. (DTof)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CURTIS LAMONT WOODS,
Case Number: 2:15-CV-10095
HONORABLE PAUL D. BORMAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING HABEAS CORPUS PETITION
AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
This is a habeas case filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner Curtis Lamont
Woods is a state inmate currently incarcerated at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia,
Michigan. He challenges his convictions for armed robbery, felon in possession of a
firearm, and felony firearm, second offense, on a single ground, that the trial court lacked
subject-matter jurisdiction. The claim raised does not provide a ground on which habeas
relief may be granted. Therefore, the petition will be dismissed.
Woods was convicted by a jury in Wayne County Circuit Court of armed robbery,
felon in possession of a firearm, and felony firearm. On May 19, 2014, he was sentenced
to 30 to 60 years’ imprisonment for the armed robbery conviction, 1 to 5 years’
imprisonment for the felon-in-possession conviction, and 5 years’ imprisonment for the
On May 15, 2014, Woods filed a complaint for habeas corpus in the Michigan
Court of Appeals, claiming that the trial court did not acquire subject-matter jurisdiction
because of various deficiencies in the charging documents. The Michigan Court of
Appeals denied the complaint. In re Woods, No. 321794 (Mich. Ct. App. July 2, 2014).
Woods filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court. The
Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. In re Woods, 497 Mich. 906 (2014).
Woods then filed the pending habeas petition. He raises this claim:
The pivotal question posed is whether the court acquired subject-matter
jurisdiction as required by statute. Mich. Comp. Laws § 762.1; Mich. Stat.
Ann. § 28.844; Mich. Comp. Laws § 764.1a; Mich. Stat. Ann. § 28.860; and
Fed. R. Crim. P. 3 and 4.
Upon the filing of a habeas corpus petition, the court must promptly examine the
petition to determine “if it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits
annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Rule 4, Rules Governing Section
2254 cases. If the court determines that the petitioner is not entitled to relief, the court
shall summarily dismiss the petition. McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994)
(“Federal courts are authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears
legally insufficient on its face”). The habeas petition does not present grounds which
may establish the violation of a federal constitutional right, therefore, the petition will be
The claims raised are reviewed against the standards established by the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat.
1214 (AEDPA). The AEDPA provides:
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 –
resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an
unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined
by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
“A state court’s decision is ‘contrary to’ . . . clearly established law if it ‘applies a
rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court cases]’ or if it
‘confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the
Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [this] precedent.’”
Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003) (per curiam) (quoting Williams v. Taylor,
529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)). “[T]he ‘unreasonable application’ prong of the statute
permits a federal habeas court to ‘grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct
governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court but unreasonably applies that
principle to the facts’ of petitioner’s case.” Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003)
(quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 413). However, “[i]n order for a federal court find a state
court’s application of [Supreme Court] precedent ‘unreasonable,’ the state court’s
decision must have been more than incorrect or erroneous. The state court’s application
must have been ‘objectively unreasonable.’” Wiggins, 539 U.S. at 520-21 (citations
omitted); see also Williams, 529 U.S. at 409. “A state court’s determination that a claim
lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded jurists could disagree’
on the correctness of the state court’s decision.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, —,
131 S. Ct. 770, 789 (2011), (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)).
“Section 2254(d) reflects the view that habeas corpus is a guard against extreme
malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary error
correction through appeal. . . . As a condition for obtaining habeas corpus from a federal
court, a state prisoner must show that the state court’s ruling on the claim being presented
in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and
comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.” Id.
at 786-87 (internal quotation omitted).
Section 2254(d)(1) limits a federal habeas court’s review to a determination of
whether the state court’s decision comports with clearly established federal law as
determined by the Supreme Court at the time the state court renders its decision. See
Williams, 529 U.S. at 412. Section 2254(d) “does not require citation of [Supreme
Court] cases – indeed, it does not even require awareness of [Supreme Court] cases, so
long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts them.”
Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002). “[W]hile the principles of “clearly established
law” are to be determined solely by resort to Supreme Court rulings, the decisions of
lower federal courts may be instructive in assessing the reasonableness of a state court’s
resolution of an issue.” Stewart v. Erwin, 503 F.3d 488, 493 (6th Cir. 2007), citing
Williams v. Bowersox, 340 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir. 2003); Dickens v. Jones, 203 F. Supp.
2d 354, 359 (E.D. Mich. 2002).
Lastly, a federal habeas court must presume the correctness of state court factual
determinations. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). A petitioner may rebut this presumption
only with clear and convincing evidence. Warren v. Smith, 161 F.3d 358, 360-61 (6th
Petitioner argues that the state court failed to obtain subject-matter jurisdiction
over his criminal proceeding because the trial court failed to comply with Michigan law
and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 3 and 4.
“‘[F]ederal habeas corpus relief does not lie for errors of state law.’” Estelle v.
McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67 (1991) (quoting Lewis v. Jeffers, 497 U.S. 764, 780 (1990)).
Habeas review “is limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States,” and does not encompass reexamining state-court
determinations of state-law issues. Id. at 68. The determination whether a state court had
jurisdiction under state law is properly made by the state courts, not the federal judiciary.
Wills v. Egeler, 532 F.2d 1058, 1059 (6th Cir. 1976). See also Poe v. Caspari, 39 F.3d
204, 207 (8th Cir. 1994) (“Jurisdiction is no exception to the general rule that federal
courts will not engage in collateral review of state court decisions based on state law: The
adequacy of an information is primarily a question of state law and we are bound by a
state court’s conclusion respecting jurisdiction. . . . This determination of jurisdiction is
binding on this [federal] court.”) (internal quotation omitted).
In addition, Woods’ claim that the state court violated Federal Rules of Criminal
Procedure 3 and 4 is meritless. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure do not govern
state trials. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 1(a)(1) (“[T]hese rules govern the procedure in all
criminal proceedings in the United States district courts . . .”). See also Kendrick v.
Warden, Lebanon Correctional Inst., No. 3:09-cv-166, 2011 WL 6960960, *3 (S.D. Ohio
2011) (“[A] habeas claim must be based directly on the Constitution; the Federal Rules of
Criminal Procedure do not set a constitutional minimum for state court practice.”);
Velasquez v. Warden, No. 2012 WL 2885003, *2 (C.D. Cal. July 13, 2012) (“[T]he
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure . . . apply only to federal criminal proceedings and
not to state court criminal matters.”). Thus, this claimed violation of the Federal Rules of
Criminal Procedure fails to allege a constitutional violation. Habeas relief is denied.
V. Certificate of Appealability
Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 22 provides that an appeal may not proceed
unless a certificate of appealability (COA) is issued under 28 U.S.C. § 2253. Rule 11 of
the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings requires that a court “issue or deny a
certificate of appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the applicant.”
A COA may be issued “only if the applicant has made a substantial showing of the
denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). The substantial showing
threshold is satisfied when a petitioner demonstrates “that reasonable jurists would find
the district court’s assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong.” Slack v.
McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000).
In this case, the Court concludes that reasonable jurists would not debate the
conclusion that the petition does not state a claim upon which habeas relief may be
granted. Therefore, the Court will deny a certificate of appealability.
For the foregoing reasons, IT IS ORDERED that the petition for a writ of habeas
corpus is DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a certificate of appealability is DENIED.
s/Paul D. Borman
PAUL D. BORMAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: January 30, 2015
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that a copy of the foregoing order was served upon each
attorney or party of record herein by electronic means or first class U.S. mail on January
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