Sly v. Stewart
OPINION AND ORDER Granting 2 MOTION to Stay and Abey and Administratively Closing Case. Signed by District Judge Sean F. Cox. (JMcC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case Number: 17-10038
HON. SEAN F. COX
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER’S MOTION TO STAY
PROCEEDINGS AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING CASE
Petitioner April Sly, a Michigan state prisoner currently incarcerated at the Huron
Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, filed a pro se petition for a writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. She challenges the sentence imposed for her
conviction for manslaughter with a motor vehicle on the grounds that her offense
variables were incorrectly scored and that her attorney was ineffective in failing to raise a
meritorious objection to the scoring. Also before the Court is Petitioner’s Motion to Stay
and Abey Habeas Corpus. The Court grants the motion and administratively closes this
Petitioner seeks a stay to allow her to raise claims in state court related to the
Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Lockridge, 498 Mich. 358 (2015), and
the Michigan Court of Appeals’ decision in People v. Steanhouse, 880 N.W.2d 297
(Mich. Ct. App. 2015). The doctrine of exhaustion of state remedies requires state
prisoners to present their claims to the state courts before raising their claims in a federal
habeas corpus petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A) and (c); Cullen v. Pinholster, 563
U.S. 170, 182 (2011). “Exhaustion requires ‘fair presentation’ of the federal claim ‘to the
state courts, including the state court of appeals and the state supreme court.’” Williams v.
Mitchell, 792 F.3d 606, 613 (6th Cir. 2015), quoting Bray v. Andrews, 640 F.3d 731, 73435 (6th Cir. 2011). The burden is on the petitioner to prove exhaustion. Nali v. Phillips,
681 F.3d 837, 852 (6th Cir. 2012).
Petitioner concedes that she has not yet raised her Lockridge- and Steanhouserelated claims in state court. A federal district court has discretion to stay a habeas
petition to allow a petitioner to present unexhausted claims to the state courts in the first
instance and then return to federal court on a perfected petition. See Rhines v. Weber, 544
U.S. 269, 276 (2005) (recognizing court’s discretion to stay and establishing criteria for
stay). A stay may be granted when the petitioner has “good cause for his failure to
exhaust, his unexhausted claims are potentially meritorious, and there is no indication that
the petitioner engaged in intentionally dilatory litigation tactics.” Id. at 278 (citing Rose
v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 522 (1982)).
The Court finds that a stay is warranted in this case. First, the dismissal of this
case while Petitioner pursues state remedies could result in a subsequent petition being
barred by the one-year statute of limitations found in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d), of which only
a handful of days remains. Second, the Court finds that Petitioner has good cause for
failing to exhaust her claims because the Lockridge and Steanhouse cases were decided
relatively recently. Third, the state court’s disposition of these claims may moot the
claims raised in this petition. Fourth, there is no evidence of intentional delay. Under
these circumstances, the Court concludes it is not an abuse of discretion to stay this case
while Petitioner pursues state remedies for her unexhausted claims.
Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Petitioner’s “Motion to Stay and Abey Habeas
Corpus” (ECF No. 2).
The stay is conditioned on Petitioner presenting the unexhausted claims to the state
courts within sixty days of the filing date of this order by filing a motion for relief from
judgment with the state trial court. See Hill v. Anderson, 300 F.3d 679, 683 (6th Cir.
2002) (discussing procedure for staying habeas proceeding pending exhaustion of state
court remedies). The stay is further conditioned on Petitioner’s return to this Court, by
the filing of a motion to reopen and amend the petition, using the same caption and case
number included at the top of this Order, within sixty days of fully exhausting her state
court remedies. See Palmer v. Carlton, 276 F.3d 777, 781 (6th Cir. 2002) (adopting
approach taken in Zarvela v. Artuz, 254 F.3d 374, 381 (2d Cir. 2001)). Should Petitioner
fail to comply with any of these conditions, the petition may be dismissed. See Calhoun
v. Bergh, 769 F.3d 409, 411 (6th Cir. 2014) (holding that dismissal of a habeas petition is
appropriate where a petitioner has failed to comply with the terms of a stay). This case is
CLOSED for administrative purposes pending compliance with the conditions set forth
in this Order.
Dated: February 15, 2017
s/Sean F. Cox
Sean F. Cox
U. S. District Judge
I hereby certify that on February 15, 2017, the foregoing document was served on counsel
of record via electronic means and upon April Sly via First Class mail at the address
April Marie Sly
HURON VALLEY COMPLEX - WOMENS
3201 BEMIS ROAD
YPSILANTI, MI 48197
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