Southward #452289 v. Prelesnik

Filing 2

OPINION; signed by Judge Gordon J. Quist (Judge Gordon J. Quist, jmt)

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Southward #452289 v. Prelesnik Doc. 2 Case 1:06-cv-00257-GJQ-HWB Document 2 Filed 04/27/2006 Page 1 of 8 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION GREGORY EARL SOUTHWARD, ) ) Petitioner, ) ) v. ) ) JOHN PRELESNIK, ) ) Respondent. ) ____________________________________) Case No. 1:06-cv-257 Honorable Gordon J. Quist OPINION This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254. Promptly after the filing of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether "it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court." Rule 4, RULES GOVERNING 2254 CASES; see 28 U.S.C. 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to "screen out" petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court concludes that the petition must be dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust available state-court remedies. Dockets.Justia.com Case 1:06-cv-00257-GJQ-HWB Document 2 Filed 04/27/2006 Page 2 of 8 Discussion I. Factual allegations Petitioner presently is incarcerated at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility. Petitioner was convicted by a jury in the Saginaw County Circuit Court of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon (felonious assault), first-degree home invasion, kidnapping, five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC I), and carrying or possessing a firearm when committing or attempting to commit a felony (felonyfirearm). He was sentenced as a second habitual offender to prison terms of 2 to 7 years for the carrying a dangerous weapon conviction, 2 to 6 years for each felonious assault conviction, 14 to 30 years for the first-degree home invasion conviction, 20 to 50 years for the kidnapping conviction, 29 to 50 years for each CSC I conviction, and 2 years for the felony-firearm conviction. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's conviction in an unpublished opinion issued on December 28, 2004, and the Michigan Supreme Court denied Petitioner's application for leave to appeal on April 26, 2005. Petitioner raises four grounds for habeas corpus relief. First, Petitioner claims that his "[c]onviction [was] obtained by action of a grand or petit jury which was unconstitutionally selected and impaneled." Specifically, Petitioner claims that the trial court failed to excuse a juror for cause after she disclosed that she had been the victim of a similar crime. Second, Petitioner claims that he was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel when counsel (a) failed to introduce letters the victim wrote to Petitioner while he was in jail and (b) failed to present relevant evidence from the victim's medical records to show that the injuries she sustained were not consistent with the prosecutor's theory of the case. Third, Petitioner claims that the prosecutor failed 2 Case 1:06-cv-00257-GJQ-HWB Document 2 Filed 04/27/2006 Page 3 of 8 to disclose evidence favorable to the defense. Finally, Petitioner claims that he was denied the effective assistance of appellate counsel. II. Exhaustion of State Court Remedies Before the Court may grant habeas relief to a state prisoner, the prisoner must exhaust remedies available in the state courts. 28 U.S.C. 2254(b)(1); O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999). Exhaustion requires a petitioner to "fairly present" federal claims so that state courts have a "fair opportunity" to apply controlling legal principles to the facts bearing upon a petitioner's constitutional claim. See O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 842; Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275-77 (1971) (cited by Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995) and Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 6 (1982)). To fulfill the exhaustion requirement, a petitioner must have fairly presented his federal claims to all levels of the state appellate system, including the state's highest court. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66; Silverburg v. Evitts, 993 F.2d 124, 126 (6th Cir. 1993); Hafley v. Sowders, 902 F.2d 480, 483 (6th Cir. 1990). "[S]tate prisoners must give the state courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the State's established appellate review process." O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. The district court can and must raise the exhaustion issue sua sponte, when it clearly appears that habeas claims have not been presented to the state courts. See Prather v. Rees, 822 F.2d 1418, 1422 (6th Cir. 1987); Allen, 424 F.2d at 138-39. Petitioner bears the burden of showing exhaustion. See Rust v. Zent, 17 F.3d 155, 160 (6th Cir. 1994). Petitioner has failed to demonstrate exhaustion of his first ground for relief. On direct appeal, Petitioner asserted that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge or excuse a juror after she disclosed that she had been the victim of statutory rape. In the instant petition, Petitioner does not present this first claim as one of 3 Case 1:06-cv-00257-GJQ-HWB Document 2 Filed 04/27/2006 Page 4 of 8 ineffective assistance of counsel; rather, he claims that he was denied his constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury. The Sixth Circuit has held that the doctrine of exhaustion requires that a claim be presented to the state courts under the same theory in which it is later presented in federal court. See Pillette v. Foltz, 824 F.2d 494, 497 (6th Cir. 1987); Prather v. Rees, 822 F.2d 1418, 1421 (6th Cir. 1987). Because Petitioner's habeas claim rests on a theory which is separate and distinct from the one previously considered and rejected in state court, he fails to satisfy the exhaustion requirement. See Wong v. Money, 142 F.3d 313, 322 (6th Cir. 1998). In addition, it appears that Petitioner failed to present to the state courts part (b) of his second ground for habeas corpus relief, that counsel failed to present relevant evidence from the victim's medical records to show that the injuries she sustained were not consistent with the prosecutor's theory of the case. Petitioner does not allege or show that he raised that specific claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. Consequently, Petitioner fails to satisfy the exhaustion requirement. See O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. Petitioner also failed to properly exhaust his claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. According to the petition and supporting exhibits, Petitioner raised his claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel in the Michigan Supreme Court, without first raising it on direct appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals. Presentation of an issue for the first time on discretionary review to the state supreme court does not fulfill the requirement of "fair presentation." Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 351 (1989). Applying Castille, the Sixth Circuit holds that a habeas petitioner does not comply with the exhaustion requirement when he fails to raise a claim in the state court of appeals, but raises it for the first time on discretionary appeal to the state's highest 4 Case 1:06-cv-00257-GJQ-HWB Document 2 Filed 04/27/2006 Page 5 of 8 court. See Dunbar v. Pitcher, No. 98-2068, 2000 WL 179026, at *1 (6th Cir. Feb. 9, 2000); Miller v. Parker, No. 99-5007, 1999 WL 1282436, at *2 (6th Dec. 27, 1999); Troutman v. Turner, No. 953597, 1995 WL 728182, at *2 (6th Cir. Dec. 7, 1995); accord Parkhurst v. Shillinger, 128 F.3d 1366, 1368-70 (10th Cir. 1997); Ellman v. Davis, 42 F.3d 144, 148 (2d Cir. 1994); Cruz v. Warden of Dwight Corr. Ctr., 907 F.2d 665, 669 (7th Cir. 1990). Unless the state supreme court actually grants leave to appeal and reviews the issue, it remains unexhausted in the state courts. Petitioner's application for leave to appeal was denied, and thus, his claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel was not reviewed in the state appellate courts. An applicant has not exhausted available state remedies if he has the right under state law to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented. 28 U.S.C. 2254(c). Petitioner has at least one available procedure by which to raise the issues he has presented in this application. He may file a motion for relief from judgment under M.C.R. 6.500 et. seq. Under Michigan law, one such motion may be filed after August 1, 1995. M.C.R. 6.502(G)(1). Petitioner has not yet filed his one allotted motion. Therefore, the Court concludes that he has at least one available state remedy. Petitioner's application is subject to the one-year statute of limitations provided in 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1). Under 2244(d)(1)(A), the one-year limitation period runs from "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." Petitioner appealed his conviction to the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court denied his application on April 26, 2005. Petitioner did not petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, though the ninety-day period in which he could have sought review in the United States Supreme Court is counted under 2244(d)(1)(A). See Bronaugh v. Ohio, 235 F.3d 280, 283 (6th Cir. 2000). The ninety-day period 5 Case 1:06-cv-00257-GJQ-HWB Document 2 Filed 04/27/2006 Page 6 of 8 expired on July 25, 2005. Accordingly, Petitioner has one year, until July 25, 2006, in which to file his habeas petition. Because Petitioner appears to have some claims that are exhausted and some that are not, his application ordinarily must be dismissed as a mixed petition. Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509 (1982). In Palmer v. Carlton, 276 F.3d 777, 781 (6th Cir. 2002), the Sixth Circuit held that when the dismissal of a mixed petition could jeopardize the timeliness of a subsequent petition, the district court should dismiss only the unexhausted claims and stay further proceedings on the remaining portion until the petitioner has exhausted his claims in the state court. The Palmer court indicated that thirty days was a reasonable amount of time for a petitioner to file a motion for post-conviction relief in state court, and another thirty days was a reasonable amount of time for a petitioner to return to federal court after he has exhausted his state-court remedies. Id.; see also Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 125 S. Ct. 1528, 1534-35 (2005) (approving use of stay-and-abeyance procedure, but adding requirements that unexhausted claims not be plainly meritless and that petitioner had good cause for failure to exhaust). The running of the statute of limitations is tolled when "a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending." 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(2). Because Petitioner has more than sixty days remaining in the limitations period, he is not in danger of running afoul of the statute of limitations so long as he diligently pursues his state court remedies. Therefore, a stay of these proceedings is not warranted. Alternatively, Petitioner may file a new petition at any time before the expiration of the limitations period raising only his exhausted claims. Conclusion In light of the foregoing, the Court will summarily dismiss Petitioner's application pursuant to Rule 4 because he has failed to exhaust state court remedies. 6 Case 1:06-cv-00257-GJQ-HWB Document 2 Filed 04/27/2006 Page 7 of 8 Certificate of Appealability Under 28 U.S.C. 2253(c)(2), the Court must determine whether a certificate of appealability should be granted. A certificate should issue if Petitioner has demonstrated a "substantial showing of a denial of a constitutional right." 28 U.S.C. 2253(c)(2). This Court's dismissal of Petitioner's action under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing 2254 Cases is a determination that the habeas action, on its face, lacks sufficient merit to warrant service. It would be highly unlikely for this Court to grant a certificate, thus indicating to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that an issue merits review, when the Court has already determined that the action is so lacking in merit that service is not warranted. See Love v. Butler, 952 F.2d 10 (1st Cir. 1991) (it is "somewhat anomalous" for the court to summarily dismiss under Rule 4 and grant a certificate); Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490 (9th Cir. 1990) (requiring reversal where court summarily dismissed under Rule 4 but granted certificate); Dory v. Comm'r of Corr. of the State of New York, 865 F.2d 44, 46 (2d Cir. 1989) (it was "intrinsically contradictory" to grant a certificate when habeas action does not warrant service under Rule 4); Williams v. Kullman, 722 F.2d 1048, 1050 n.1 (2d Cir. 1983) (issuing certificate would be inconsistent with a summary dismissal). The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has disapproved issuance of blanket denials of a certificate of appealability. Murphy v. Ohio, 263 F.3d 466 (6th Cir. 2001). Rather, the district court must "engage in a reasoned assessment of each claim" to determine whether a certificate is warranted. Id. at 467. Each issue must be considered under the standards set forth by the Supreme Court in Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473 (2000). Murphy, 263 F.3d at 467. Consequently, this Court has examined each of Petitioner's claims under the Slack standard. This Court denied Petitioner's application on the procedural ground of lack of exhaustion. Under Slack, 529 U.S. at 484, when a habeas petition is denied on procedural grounds, 7 Case 1:06-cv-00257-GJQ-HWB Document 2 Filed 04/27/2006 Page 8 of 8 a certificate of appealability may issue only "when the prisoner shows, at least, [1] that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right and [2] that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling." Both showings must be made to warrant the grant of a certificate. Id. The Court finds that reasonable jurists could not debate that this Court correctly dismissed the petition on the procedural grounds of lack of exhaustion. "Where a plain procedural bar is present and the district court is correct to invoke it to dispose of the case, a reasonable jurist could not conclude either that the district court erred in dismissing the petition or that the petitioner should be allowed to proceed further." Id. Therefore, the Court denies Petitioner a certificate of appealabil it y. A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered. Dated: April 27, 2006 /s/ Gordon J. Quist GORDON J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 8

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