Frazier #230907 v. Curtin
OPINION AND ORDER APPROVING AND ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 32 ; petition for habeas corpus relief 1 is DENIED; Judgment to issue; signed by Judge Janet T. Neff (Judge Janet T. Neff, clb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
WILLIE LONELL FRAZIER,
Case No. 1:12-cv-875
HON. JANET T. NEFF
OPINION AND ORDER
This is a habeas corpus petition filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The matter was referred
to the Magistrate Judge, who issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) recommending that this
Court deny the petition. The matter is presently before the Court on Petitioner’s objections to the
Report and Recommendation. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and FED. R. CIV. P.
72(b)(3), the Court has performed de novo consideration of those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which objections have been made. The Court denies the objections and issues
this Opinion and Order. The Court will also issue a Judgment in this § 2254 proceeding. See Gillis
v. United States, 729 F.3d 641, 643 (6th Cir. 2013) (requiring a separate judgment in habeas
As an initial matter, Petitioner’s objections essentially reiterate the arguments in his petition
instead of addressing the Magistrate Judge’s analysis. Petitioner again alleges that the trial court
incorrectly scored three different offense variables (OV), and he contends that the Magistrate Judge
“reached an inaccurate assertion and conclusion that the trial court did not improperly scored [sic]
OV9, OV 10, and OV 19” (Pet’r Obj., Dkt 38 at 2). Petitioner then continues to argue how state law
should have been applied in his sentencing (id. at 2–6), despite the fact that the Magistrate Judge’s
conclusion was based on Petitioner’s failure to demonstrate a violation of the United States
Constitution or federal law. Nonetheless, the Court has considered the objections and agrees with
the Magistrate Judge’s analysis.
Petitioner first contends that habeas relief is warranted because the trial court misapplied the
standards required to score each of the offense variables at 10 points (id. at 2, 3, 4). Petitioner’s first
argument lacks merit. The Magistrate Judge properly stated that “[c]laims concerning the improper
application of sentencing guidelines are state-law claims and typically are not cognizable in habeas
corpus proceedings” (R&R, Dkt 32 at 7, citing Austin v. Jackson, 213 F.3d 298, 301–02 (6th Cir.
2000)). The Magistrate Judge also found that Petitioner’s assertions do not demonstrate that his dueprocess rights were violated because “Petitioner does not identify any facts found by the court at
sentencing that were materially false or based on false information” (R&R, Dkt 32 at 8, citing United
States v. Tucker, 404 U.S. 443, 447 (1972)). As the Supreme Court has made clear, “it is not the
province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court determinations on state-law questions.
In conducting habeas review, a federal court is limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67–68 (1991)
(citing 28 U.S.C. § 2241; Rose v. Hodges, 423 U.S. 19, 21 (1975) (per curiam)). Petitioner is not
entitled to habeas relief based solely on the allegation that Petitioner’s sentencing guidelines were
scored incorrectly under state law.
Petitioner next claims that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the trial
court’s scoring of the offense variables (Pet’r Obj., Dkt 38 at 6). Because Petitioner’s first argument
fails, Petitioner’s second argument must also fail. As the Magistrate Judge stated, “[i]f no error in
scoring occurred, counsel had no basis on which to object” (R&R, Dkt 32 at 10, citing Smith v.
Bradshaw, 591 F.3d 517, 523 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that an attorney’s failure to make a frivolous
or meritless motion does not constitute ineffective assistance of counsel)).
performance of Petitioner’s trial counsel could not have been constitutionally deficient, and
Petitioner cannot meet either prong of the Strickland test. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S.
668, 687–88 (1984).
In sum, Petitioner has failed to demonstrate any factual or legal error in the Magistrate
Judge’s analysis or conclusion. The Magistrate Judge properly concluded that Petitioner’s habeas
corpus petition should be denied.
Having determined Petitioner’s objections lack merit, the Court must further determine
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c) whether to grant a certificate of appealability as to the issues raised.
See RULES GOVERNING § 2254 CASES, Rule 11 (requiring the district court to “issue or deny a
certificate of appealability when it enters a final order”). The Court must review the issues
individually. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473 (2000); Murphy v. Ohio, 263 F.3d 466, 466–67 (6th
“Where a district court has rejected the constitutional claims on the merits, the showing
required to satisfy § 2253(c) is straightforward: The petitioner must demonstrate that reasonable
jurists would find the district court’s assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong.”
Slack, 529 U.S. at 484. Upon review, this Court finds that reasonable jurists would not find the
Court’s assessment of Petitioner’s claims debatable or wrong. A certificate of appealability will
therefore be denied.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Objections (Dkt 38) are DENIED and the Report and
Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt 32) is APPROVED and ADOPTED as the Opinion
of the Court.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the petition for habeas corpus relief (Dkt 1) is DENIED
for the reasons stated in the Report and Recommendation.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a certificate of appealability pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2253(c) is DENIED.
Dated: November ___, 2014
/s/ Janet T. Neff
JANET T. NEFF
United States District Judge
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