Barnes #160068 v. Michigan Department of Corrections
OPINION ; signed by Judge Robert Holmes Bell (Judge Robert Holmes Bell, kcb)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
LEE A. BARNES,
Case No. 1:16-cv-92
Honorable Robert Holmes Bell
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 Lee A. Barnes presently is on parole from a prison sentence of one to
twenty years, imposed on December 23, 2013 by the Kent County Circuit Court, after Petitioner
pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver heroin, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 333.7401(2)(a)(iv).
Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals, raising
Defendant-Appellant must be resentenced where he was assessed five points
pursuant to OV 12 where the alleged contemporaneous felonious acts were
not supported by the record.
The trial court abused its discretion and violated Defendant-Appellant’s state
and federal constitutional due process guarantees when it denied his request
to withdraw his no-contest plea of guilty before sentencing when DefendantAppellant believed himself to be coerced into pleading guilty, and trial
counsel was ineffective for refusing to motion the trial court for
reconsideration, for refusing to file an interlocutory appeal with the Court of
Appeals, or for failing to attempt to negotiate a conditional plea after
Defendant-Appellant’s motion to suppress was denied.
(ECF No. 1-1, PageID.25.) The court of appeals denied leave to appeal on July 28, 2014. Petitioner
sought leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same two grounds, as well as a
claim of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel, which he describes as follows:
Defense attorney refused to advocate and omitted to raise key issues such as motion
to suppress evidence, Confrontation Clause, illegal search and seizure both vehicle
and apartment. Also the appellate attorney omitted to raise the Confrontation Clause
of the Sixth Amendment.
(ECF No. 6, PageID.93.) The supreme court denied leave to appeal on October 28, 2015.
Petitioner filed his habeas application in this Court on or about January 11, 2016.1
In his amended application, Petitioner raises the two issues presented in his application for leave to
appeal to both Michigan appellate courts (which he collects into a single habeas ground), as well as
the claim of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel that he presented for the first time
in the Michigan Supreme Court.
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
Under Sixth Circuit precedent, the application is deemed filed when handed to prison authorities for mailing
to the federal court. Cook v. Stegall, 295 F.3d 517, 521 (6th Cir. 2002). Petitioner dated his application on January 11,
2016, and it was received by the Court on January 27, 2016. Thus, it must have been handed to prison officials for
mailing at some time between January 11 and 27, 2016. For purposes of this opinion, the Court has given Petitioner the
benefit of the earliest possible filing date. See Brand v. Motley, 526 F.3d 921, 925 (6th Cir. 2008) (holding that the date
the prisoner signs the document is deemed under Sixth Circuit law to be the date of handing to officials) (citing Goins
v. Saunders, 206 F. App’x 497, 498 n.1 (6th Cir. 2006)).
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). According to the amended petition, Petitioner presented all of the issues that he
collects under his first ground for habeas relief to both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the
Michigan Supreme Court. Petitioner acknowledges, however, that he raised his claim of ineffective
assistance of trial and appellate counsel for the first time in his application for leave to appeal to the
Michigan Supreme Court.
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 repeatedly has recognized 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 court. See, e.g.,
Skinner v. McLemore, 425 F. App’x 491, 494 (6th Cir. 2011); Thompson v. Bell, 580 F.3d 423, 438
(6th Cir. 2009); Warlick v. Romanowski, 367 F. App’x 634, 643 (6th Cir. 2010); Granger v. Hurt,
215 F. App’x 485, 491 (6th Cir. 2007). 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, the issue was not reviewed.
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 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. In order to properly exhaust his claim, Petitioner must file a motion for relief from
judgment in the Kent County Circuit Court. If his motion is denied by the circuit court, Petitioner
must appeal that decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. See
Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66.
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, 522 (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 October 28,
2015. 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 January 27, 2016. Accordingly, absent tolling, Petitioner would have
one year, or until January 27, 2017, 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 781. See also Griffin, 308 F.3d at 653 (holding that sixty days
amounts to a mandatory period of equitable tolling under Palmer).2 Petitioner has more than sixty
days remaining in his limitations period. Assuming that Petitioner diligently pursues his state-court
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 Petitioner 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.
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).
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
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 23, 2016
/s/ Robert Holmes Bell
ROBERT HOLMES BELL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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