Henry #546101 v. McKee
OPINION; signed by Judge Janet T. Neff (Judge Janet T. Neff, clb)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JONATHAN WAYNE HENRY,
Case No. 1:12-cv-69
Honorable Janet T. Neff
This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 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 will dismiss the petition without prejudice for failure to exhaust
available state-court remedies.
Petitioner is incarcerated in the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility. He was
convicted in the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court of one count of first-degree criminal sexual
conduct (CSC) and one count of third-degree CSC. The trial court sentenced him as a fourth
habitual offender to concurrent prison terms of twelve to forty years. The Michigan Court of
Appeals affirmed his conviction in an unpublished opinion issued on May 19, 2011. The Michigan
Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s application for leave to appeal on September 26, 2011.
Petitioner now raises four grounds for habeas corpus relief. First, he claims that the
prosecutor improperly elicited testimony from Officer Riggles that improperly vouched for the
credibility of the victim. Second, Petitioner contends that his convictions for first-degree CSC and
third-degree CSC violated the Double Jeopardy Clause. Third, Petitioner asserts that his Sixth
Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel was violated when his trial counsel allowed
the victim to remain in the courtroom after she testified. According to Petitioner, the victim was
recalled to stand and changed her testimony after hearing the testimony of other witnesses. Finally,
in his fourth ground for relief, Petitioner claims that his Sixth Amendment right to the effective
assistance of counsel was violated when a “juror said [Petitioner] was guilty before the trial in front
of the whole jury. . . . This made it difficult to get a fair outcome of the proceedings.” (Pet., docket
#1, Page ID#10.)
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 in 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; Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 414 (6th Cir. 2009); 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 clearly raised his first two grounds for relief on direct appeal before
the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. Accordingly, his first two
grounds for relief are properly exhausted.
With regard to his third ground for habeas corpus relief, Petitioner raised the issue
on direct appeal of the victim being recalled to the stand after hearing the testimony of other
witnesses. However, Petitioner raised the claim as one of state-court evidentiary error, not as a
claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. To fairly present a claim, it is not enough that all the facts
necessary to support a federal claim were before the state court or that a somewhat similar state law
claim was made. See Anderson, 459 U.S. at 6; Harris v. Rees, 794 F.2d 1168, 1174 (6th Cir. 1986);
see also Duncan, 513 U.S. at 366 (mere similarity of claims is insufficient to exhaust). “If state
courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners’ federal rights, they
must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States
Constitution.” Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66. This 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, 822
F.2d at 1421. Petitioner’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel rests on a theory which is
separate and distinct from the one previously considered and rejected in state court. Wong v. Money,
142 F.3d 313, 322 (6th Cir. 1998). Accordingly, Petitioner failed to properly exhaust his third
ground for habeas corpus relief.
Petitioner concedes that his fourth ground for habeas corpus relief asserting
ineffective assistance of counsel was not raised on direct appeal in the Michigan appellate courts.
Because Petitioner failed to present his federal claim to all levels of the state appellate system, see
Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66, he also fails to satisfy the exhaustion requirement with regard to his
fourth ground for habeas relief.
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 unexhausted issues he has presented in this
application. He may file a motion for relief from judgment under MICH. CT. R. 6.500 et seq. Under
Michigan law, one such motion may be filed after August 1, 1995. MICH. CT. 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.
Because Petitioner has some claims that are exhausted and some that are not, his
petition is “mixed.” Under Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 22 (1982), district courts are directed to
dismiss mixed petitions without prejudice in order to allow petitioners to return to state court to
exhaust remedies. However, since the habeas statute was amended to impose a one-year statute of
limitations on habeas claims, see 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1), dismissal without prejudice often
effectively precludes future federal habeas review. This is particularly true after the Supreme Court
ruled in Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181-82 (2001), that the limitations period is not tolled
during the pendency of a federal habeas petition. As a result, the Sixth Circuit adopted a stay-andabeyance procedure to be applied to mixed petitions. See Palmer v. Carlton, 276 F.3d 777, 781 (6th
Cir. 2002). In Palmer, 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. Id.; see also Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 277 (2007)
(approving stay-and-abeyance procedure); Griffin v. Rogers, 308 F.3d 647, 652 n.1 (6th Cir. 2002).
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 limitations 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
the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court denied his application on September
26, 2011. 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 expired on Monday, December 26, 2011. Accordingly, absent tolling, Petitioner
would have one year, until December 26, 2012, in which to file his habeas petition.
The Palmer Court has indicated that thirty days is a reasonable amount of time for
a petitioner to file a motion for post-conviction relief in state court, and another thirty days is a
reasonable amount of time for a petitioner to return to federal court after he has exhausted his statecourt remedies. Palmer, 276 F.3d at 721. See also Griffin, 308 F.3d at 653 (holding that sixty days
amounts to a mandatory period of equitable tolling under Palmer).1 Petitioner has far more than
sixty days remaining in his limitations period. Assuming that Petitioner diligently pursues his statecourt remedies and promptly returns to this Court after the Michigan Supreme Court issues its
decision, he is not in danger of running afoul of the statute of limitations. Therefore a stay of these
proceedings is not warranted. Should Plaintiff decide not to pursue his unexhausted claims in the
state courts, he may file a new petition raising only exhausted claims at any time before the
expiration of the limitations period.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss the petition for failure to exhaust
available state-court remedies.
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
The running of the statute of limitations is tolled while “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).
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 already has 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., 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 the 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,
a certificate of appealability may issue only “when the prisoner shows, at least,  that jurists of
reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a
constitutional right and  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 ground 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
A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
Dated: March 6, 2012
/s/ Janet T. Neff
Janet T. Neff
United States District Judge
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