Lawson v. Haas
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING 3 Petitioner's MOTION to Stay and Closing this Case. Signed by District Judge Terrence G. Berg. (AChu)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JAYMOND D. LAWSON,
Case No. 17-cv-11287
HON. TERRENCE G. BERG
HON. DAVID R. GRAND
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER’S
MOTION FOR A STAY [DKT. 3] AND CLOSING THIS CASE
Petitioner Jaymond D. Lawson, a state prisoner at the Macomb Correctional
Facility in New Haven, Michigan, recently filed a petition for the writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and a motion to stay this federal proceeding. In his
pro se petition, Petitioner challenges his convictions for manslaughter and firearm
offenses. In his motion for a stay, Petitioner seeks to have his habeas petition held
in abeyance while he exhausts state remedies for several claims. For the reasons
given below, the Court will GRANT Petitioner’s motion for a stay and hold his
habeas petition in abeyance, but close this case for administrative purposes.
Following a no-contest plea in Saginaw County Circuit Court, Petitioner was
convicted of one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.224f, two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony,
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b, and one count of manslaughter, Mich. Comp. Laws
§750.321. The trial court sentenced Petitioner as a habitual offender to
imprisonment for 100 months to twenty years for the felon-in-possession conviction,
two concurrent terms of two years for the felony-firearm convictions, and 100
months to thirty years for the manslaughter conviction. Petitioner appealed his
convictions, but the Michigan Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal for lack of
merit in the ground presented to the court, see People v. Lawson, No. 329130 (Mich.
Ct. App. Nov. 4, 2015), and on May 2, 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court denied
leave to appeal because it was not persuaded to review the issue. People v. Lawson,
499 Mich. 917; 877 N.W.2d 882 (2015).
The grounds for relief asserted in the pending habeas petition are: (1) trial
counsel’s failure to properly advise Petitioner of possible pretrial motions relevant
to his defense deprived him of effective assistance and rendered his plea
unknowing; (2) the trial court abused its discretion by denying Petitioner’s motion
to withdraw his no-contest plea and by failing to conduct an evidentiary hearing; (3)
Petitioner’s plea was unknowing and involuntary because the trial court failed to
comply with Michigan Court Rule 6.302; (4) the failure to negate a possible
intoxication defense rendered the factual basis for the plea insufficient; (5)
Petitioner’s plea was not knowing and voluntary because trial counsel provided
ineffective assistance; and (6) the prosecutor committed misconduct by failing to
provide the trial court and trial counsel with accurate information.
The doctrine of exhaustion of state remedies requires state prisoners to
present all their claims to the state courts before raising the claims in a federal
habeas corpus petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); O’Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S.
838, 842 (1999). This requirement is satisfied if the prisoner “invok[es] one
complete round of the State’s established appellate review process,” including a
petition for discretionary review in the state supreme court “when that review is
part of the ordinary appellate review procedure in the State.” O’Sullivan, 526 U.S.
at 845, 847.
Petitioner alleges that he raised his first claim on direct appeal and that he
raised his remaining claims in a motion for relief from judgment, which is pending
in the state trial court. Thus, it appears that the habeas petition is a “mixed”
petition of one exhausted claim and five unexhausted claims.
A federal district court ordinarily must dismiss a “mixed” petition containing
both exhausted and unexhausted claims, “leaving the prisoner with the choice of
returning to state court to exhaust his claims or of amending or resubmitting the
habeas petition to present only exhausted claims to the district court.” Rose v.
Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 510 (1982). However, as explained in Rhines v. Weber, 544
U.S. 269 (2005),
[T]he enactment of [the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(AEDPA)] in 1996 dramatically altered the landscape for federal
habeas corpus petitions. AEDPA preserved Lundy’s total exhaustion
requirement, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A) (“An application for a writ
of habeas corpus . . . shall not be granted unless it appears that . . . the
applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the
State”), but it also imposed a 1-year statute of limitations on the filing
of federal petitions, § 2244(d) . . . .
As a result of the interplay between AEDPA’s 1-year statute of
limitations and Lundy’s dismissal requirement, petitioners who come
to federal court with “mixed” petitions run the risk of forever losing
their opportunity for any federal review of their unexhausted claims.
If a petitioner files a timely but mixed petition in federal district court,
and the district court dismisses it under Lundy after the limitations
period has expired, this will likely mean the termination of any federal
Id. at 274–75.
In light of this problem, some district courts have adopted a “stay-andabeyance” approach. Id. at 275. Under this approach, a court stays the federal
proceeding and holds the habeas petition in abeyance while the petitioner pursues
state remedies for his unexhausted claims. Id. After the state court completes its
review of the petitioner’s claims, the federal court can lift its stay and allow the
petitioner to proceed in federal court. Id. at 275-76.
[I]t likely would be an abuse of discretion for a district court to deny a
stay and to dismiss a mixed petition if the petitioner had 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. In such circumstances, the
district court should stay, rather than dismiss, the mixed petition. See
Lundy, 455 U.S., at 522, 102 S.Ct. 1198 (the total exhaustion
requirement was not intended to “unreasonably impair the prisoner’s
right to relief”). In such a case, the petitioner’s interest in obtaining
federal review of his claims outweighs the competing interests in
finality and speedy resolution of federal petitions.
Id. at 278.
Petitioner alleges that appellate counsel was “cause” for his failure to raise
all his claims on direct appeal, and there is no indication that he is engaged in
intentionally dilatory litigation tactics. Furthermore, at least some of his
unexhausted claims may have merit.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that Petitioner’s motion for a stay [Dkt. 3] is
GRANTED, and the habeas petition will be held in abeyance.
It is further ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall close this case for
It is further ORDERED that, if Petitioner is unsuccessful in state court and
wishes to return to this Court, he must file a motion to re-open this case, using the
same case number that appears on this order. A motion to re-open this case must
be filed within ninety (90) days of the state courts’ resolution of Petitioner’s
unexhausted claims. Failure to comply with the conditions of this stay could result
in the dismissal of this case. Calhoun v. Bergh, 769 F.3d 409, 411 (6th Cir. 2014),
cert. denied, 135 S. Ct. 1403 (2015).
s/Terrence G. Berg
TERRENCE G. BERG
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: July 24, 2017
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that this Order was electronically submitted on July 24,
2017, using the CM/ECF system, which will send notification to each party.
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