Bridges #437651 v. Harry
OPINION; signed by Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker (Chief Judge Robert J. Jonker, sdb)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
ANTONIO VALLIN BRIDGES,
Case No. 1:17-cv-287
Honorable Robert J. Jonker
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. Moreover, in light of the dismissal of the petition, the Court will
deny Petitioner’s motion for expedited consideration (ECF No. 3) and Petitioner’s motion for release
on bond (ECF No. 4) as moot.
Petitioner is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at
the West Shoreline Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. On December 1, 2015,
Petitioner pleaded guilty to three counts of false pretenses – $1,000.00 or more but less than $20,000,
MICH. COMP. LAWS § 750.218(4)(a), and admitted to being an habitual offender - third offense,
MICH. COMP. LAWS § 769.11. Bridges v. Barrett, No. 1:16-cv-1269 (W.D. Mich.) (Plea Tr., ECF
No. 21-2, PageID.123–128.)1 At the sentencing hearing held on December 16, 2015, the trial court
sentenced Petitioner to concurrent sentences of 2 ½ to 10 years with 138 days of credit. Bridges I
(Sentencing Tr., ECF No. 21-3, PageID.150–151.)
In exchange for Petitioner’s plea, the prosecutor dismissed two counts charging
Petitioner with using a computer to commit a crime, MICH. COMP. LAWS § 752.797(3)(d). The parties
also agreed that Petitioner’s minimum sentence would not exceed thirty months. Petitioner
summarized the factual basis for his plea in his brief to the Michigan Court of Appeals:
Defendant pretended that he was the landlord of 5009 Devonshire
Avenue. He made up 3 false leases, and leased that property to 4
different tenants. The property was in foreclosure and vacant. He
took money orders from these individuals and cashed them. In the
case of each fraudulent lease, the amount received by the defendant as
the 1st month’s rent and security deposit was greater than $1000.
Bridges I (Def.-Appellant’s Br. on Appeal, ECF No. 21-4, PageID.165–166) (internal citations
The petition presently before the Court is Petitioner’s second petition challenging these convictions and
sentences. As set forth fully below, Petitioner’s first petition was dismissed for failure to exhaust state court remedies
on March 17, 2017. That case shall be referenced herein as Bridges I. On the same day Petitioner signed the notice of
appeal in Bridges I, he filed the instant petition. The Bridges I dismissal was based on the state court record. Petitioner
has asked the Court to resolve this petition on the merits with reference to the state court record submitted in Bridges
I. (Mot. for Expedited Consideration, ECF No. 3, PageID.21.) Documents filed in Bridges I will be referenced herein
with the preface of “Bridges I” followed by the parenthetical reference to the docket location in that case.
On May 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed a pro per motion to withdraw his plea and correct
sentence. The trial court stated it was unable to review the motion or grant the requested relief
because Petitioner had obtained appellate counsel and his delayed application for leave to appeal was
then currently pending. Bridges I (5/16/16 Cir. Court Order, ECF No. 21-5, PageID.263–264.)
Petitioner filed a delayed application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Court of
Appeals. His brief, which was filed by counsel on April 18, 2016, raised the following claim:
IS MR. BRIDGES ENTITLED TO RE-SENTENCING, BECAUSE
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN SCORING OV 19 WITH 10
POINTS, WHICH INCREASED THE GUIDELINES SENTENCE
Bridges I (Def.-Appellant’s Br. on Appeal, ECF No. 21-4, PageID.164.) On June 8, 2016, the
Michigan Court of Appeals denied Petitioner’s application for lack of merit in the grounds presented.
Bridges I (6/8/16 Mich. Ct. App. Order, ECF No. 21-4, PageID.157.) Thereafter, Petitioner filed a
motion for reconsideration and a Standard 4 brief, in which he raised the following additional claim:
The Defendant is entitled to withdraw his plea because the Court
Cobb’s evaluation and plea agreement is based upon inaccurate
information that is a violation of Federal and State Due Process
Bridges I (Mot. For Recons., ECF No. 21-4, PageID.227.)
Before the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on Petitioner’s motion for
reconsideration, Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Petitioner raised the same claim raised by his counsel to the court of appeals as well as the issue
raised in his motion for reconsideration and Standard 4 brief.
Bridges I (ECF No. 21-5,
PageID.251–258.) Next, while both his motion for reconsideration before the court of appeals and
application to the state supreme court were pending, Petitioner filed a motion to remand in the
Michigan Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals returned the motion to remand as untimely, noting
that if his motion for reconsideration was granted he could resubmit the motion to remand. Bridges
I (7/6/16 Mich. Ct. App. Letter, ECF No. 21-4, PageID.237.)
On August 5, 2016, the court of appeals denied Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
Bridges I (8/5/16 Mich. Ct. App. Ord., ECF No. 21-4, PageID.248.) Thereafter, by order entered
October 26, 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s application for leave to appeal
because it was not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed. Bridges I (Mich. Ord.,
ECF No. 21-5, PageID.250.) Petitioner did not seek certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.
Petitioner filed the Bridges I petition on September 19, 2016,2 raising the single ground
for habeas relief quoted above.3 On December 1, 2016, the Court ordered Respondent to file an
answer or other pleading. Bridges I (ECF No. 11.) Later that month, on December 27, 2016,
Petitioner filed an amended petition. The amended petition did not appear to be complete as it
contained only one ground for relief, which was listed as “ground two” and appeared as follows:
The Petitioner[’s] plea agreement render[s] the plea
Bridges I (Am. Pet. 7, ECF No. 15, PageID.49.) Petitioner also filed a motion to further
amend/correct his amended petition, claiming that he subsequently received transcripts from the trial
court and that:
Thus the Bridges I petition was filed even before the Michigan Supreme Court denied his application for leave
Petitioner did not raise the sentencing scoring claim in the Bridges I petition.
[U]pon review of the now complete record the Petitioner has
discovered that the main issue is ineffective assistance of appellant[’s]
counsel and the Petitioner’s plea was involuntary under the Federal
Due Process Clause because the plea agreement was unknow[ing] and
induce[d] by the court’s misrepresentations.
Bridges I (1/23/17 Mot. To Am., ECF No. 18, PageID.61.) The Respondent in Bridges I filed an
amended response, addressing only the ground raised in Petitioner’s original habeas petition and
contending that Petitioner had failed to exhaust that claim. Bridges I (ECF No. 23.) The Court
agreed and dismissed the Bridges I petition without prejudice for failing to exhaust available state
court remedies. Bridges I (ECF Nos. 30-32.)
Motion for relief from judgment
After Petitioner filed the Bridges I petition, but before it was dismissed, Petitioner filed
a motion for relief from judgment in the Ingham County Circuit Court. Bridges I (Ingham County
Circuit Court Docket, ECF No. 21-1, PageID.99.) Petitioner has not, in the context of Bridges I or
this case, specifically identified the issues raised in his post-judgment motion, except that he notes
the issues he raises in the instant petition were raised in the motion for relief from judgment. (Pet.,
ECF No. 1, PageID.6-9.) The trial court denied the motion on January 9, 2017. Bridges I (Ingham
County Circuit Court Docket, ECF No. 21-1, PageID.99.) Petitioner has not appealed that order.
(Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.6-9.)
Upon receipt of the Bridges I dismissal, Petitioner immediately prepared the instant
petition raising two issues:
Ineffective assistance of appella[te] counsel for failing to order the complete
Involuntary plea because the defendant[‘s] subjective mind misunderstood
the plea agreement . . . because he mistaken[ly believed] from the trial court
that 30 months minimum sentence includes one year of jail credit . . . .
(Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.6-7.) Petitioner seeks expedited consideration of his petition (ECF No. 3)
and further asks to be released on bond pending resolution on the merits (ECF No. 4). Petitioner
claims such extraordinary relief is warranted because if his sentence conformed to his expectations
he would be released very soon.
Standard of Review
This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996,
PUB. L. 104-132, 110 STAT. 1214 (AEDPA). See Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792 (2001). The
AEDPA “prevents federal habeas ‘retrials’” and ensures that state court convictions are given effect
to the extent possible under the law. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002). The AEDPA has
“drastically changed” the nature of habeas review. Bailey v. Mitchell, 271 F.3d 652, 655 (6th Cir.
2001). An application for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person who is incarcerated pursuant
to a state conviction cannot be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits
in state court unless the adjudication: “(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an
unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of
the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based upon an unreasonable determination
of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
This standard is “intentionally difficult to meet.” Woods v. Donald, 575 U.S. __, 135 S. Ct. 1372,
1376 (2015) (internal quotation marks omitted).
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 represents that he has raised his habeas issues for the first time in the Ingham
County Circuit Court by way of his November, 2016 motion for relief from judgment. (Pet., ECF
No. 1, PageID.6-9.) He also acknowledges that he has not appealed the trial courts’ denial of his
motion; thus, the issues have never been presented to the Michigan appellate courts. (Id.)
Accordingly, he has failed to exhaust his state court remedies with respect to these issues.
Exhaustion is only a problem, however, if there is a state court remedy available for
petitioner to pursue, thus providing the state courts with an opportunity to cure any constitutional
infirmities in the state court conviction. Rust v. Zent, 17 F.3d 155, 160 (6th Cir. 1994). 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 a procedural remedy available
in the form of an appeal of the order denying relief from judgment to the Michigan Court of Appeals
and, if he does not prevail there, to the Michigan Supreme Court.
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 26, 2016.
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 24, 2017. Accordingly, absent tolling, Petitioner would have one year, until
January 24, 2018, in which to file his habeas petition.
In Petitioner’s case, however, he filed a motion for relief from judgment in the Ingham
County Circuit Court on November 4, 2016, Bridges I (Ingham County Circuit Court Docket, ECF
No. 21-1, PageID.99), before the period of limitation commenced running. That motion tolled the
running of the statute of limitations. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2) (“ The time during which properly filed
application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment
or claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation under this section.”).
Although the trial court has denied the motion, it remains pending in the state courts. The period of
limitation remains tolled until the end of the period in which Petitioner could have appealed the denial
of his motion for relief from judgment. See Holbrook v. Curtin, 833 F.3d 612, 619 (6th Cir. 2016).
Petitioner has six months after January 9, 2017 (the date the trial court denied his post-conviction
motion), or until July 9, 2017, in which to file a delayed application for leave to appeal in the
Michigan Court of Appeals. See MICH. CT. R. 7.205(G)(3). Accordingly, the soonest Petitioner’s
period of limitation would begin to run is still almost two months away. He will have a year after the
period begins to run to file his habeas claims.
In Palmer v. Carlton, 276 F.3d 777, 781 (6th Cir. 2002), the Sixth Circuit held that
when the dismissal of a “mixed”4 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 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. The instant case does not present a
mixed petition because none of Petitioner’s claims are exhausted. It is unclear whether Palmer
applies to a “non-mixed” petition. Assuming Palmer applies, Petitioner has more than sixty days
remaining in the limitations period, and, thus, 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.
Petitioner requests that the Court excuse the exhaustion requirement here because, he
claims, by the time he has exhausted his claim it will be too late for this Court to provide any relief.
The exhaustion requirement is premised on “the presumption that states maintain adequate and
effective remedies to vindicate federal constitutional rights.” Turner v. Bagley, 401 F.3d 718, 724
A “mixed petition” is a habeas corpus petition that contains both exhausted and unexhausted claims. See Rose
v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 522 (1982).
(6th Cir. 2005). The habeas statute identifies circumstances where a habeas petitioner may avoid the
exhaustion requirement because the premise of the exhaustion requirement has failed:
(b)(1) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody
pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears
the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the
(B)(i) there is an absence of available State corrective process; or
(ii) circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the
rights of the applicant.
28 U.S.C. § 2254. Courts have found circumstances excusing a failure to exhaust where there is
“‘[i]nordinate delay in adjudicating state court claims[,]’” Phillips v. White, __ F.3d __ , 2017 WL
992509 at *5 (6th Cir. March 15, 2017) (quoting Workman v. Tate, 957 F.2d 1339, 13544 (6th Cir.
1992)); where a claim is “considered, though ignored, by the state-appellate courts[,]” Sanders v.
Lafler, 618 F. Supp. 2d 724, 732 (E.D. Mich. 2009); or where there is no state corrective process, as
is the case with respect to an equal protection challenge to a parole denial, Jackson v. Jamrog, 411
F.3d 615, 618 (6th Cir. 2005).
Petitioner has failed to identify any extraordinary circumstance that excuses his failure
to exhaust. There has been no inordinate delay. Petitioner completed the direct review of his
conviction and sentence in less than a year. Petitioner’s claim has not been considered, but ignored,
by the Michigan appellate courts. He has not even provided the Michigan appellate courts a chance
to review the denial of his motion for relief from judgment. Moreover, state corrective process
remains. Petitioner may file a delayed application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Court of
Appeals as late as July 9, 2017. Petitioner’s failure to exhaust, therefore, warrants dismissal under
Petitioner has filed two motions: a motion for expedited consideration (ECF No. 3),
and a motion for release on bond pending decision on the petition. The Court’s dismissal of the
petition without prejudice effectively moots both motions.
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. The lack of exhaustion is apparent on the
face of the petition. “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 appealability.
A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
April 14, 2017
/s/ Robert J. Jonker
ROBERT J. JONKER
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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