Mott #193734 v. Rewerts
OPINION; signed by District Judge Paul L. Maloney (Judge Paul L. Maloney, cmc)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 1:20-cv-835
Honorable Paul L. Maloney
This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
The Court conducted a preliminary review of the petition and concluded that it was untimely.
(Op., ECF No. 6.) The Court permitted Petitioner an opportunity to show cause why his petition
should not be dismissed as untimely and, additionally, if the petition were not dismissed as
untimely, to show cause why the petition should be stayed and held in abeyance pending
Petitioner’s exhaustion of his state court remedies. (Id.) Petitioner filed a timely response.
(ECF No. 8.) Petitioner’s response indicated that he had filed a motion for relief from judgment
in the state court on May 5, 2020. The Court’s analysis of the timeliness issue presumed—based
on information provided with the habeas petition, specifically a brief in support of the motion dated
August 27, 2020—that the motion for relief from judgment was not filed before the petition.
Petitioner’s disclosure of a May 5, 2020, filing date for the motion for relief from judgment
undercuts the Court’s prior analysis of the timeliness issue as well as any need for a stay. For the
reasons set forth below, the petition will be dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust
available state court remedies and Petitioner’s motion for stay (ECF No. 3) will be denied.
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Petitioner Carl Mott is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections
at the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF) in Carson City, Montcalm County, Michigan. On
April 12, 2017, following a two-day jury trial in the Berrien County Circuit Court, Petitioner was
convicted of first-degree home invasion, in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.110a. On May
15, 2017, the court sentenced Petitioner as a fourth habitual offender to a prison term of 10 to 30
On August 27, 2020, Petitioner filed his habeas corpus petition. 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 placed his petition
in the prison mailing system on August 27, 2020. (Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.18.)
The petition raises eight grounds for relief, as follows:
Petitioner was denied his right to confrontation due to an interpreter unable
to properly translate.
Prosecutorial misconduct and errors shifted the burden of proof onto
Petitioner violating his right to a fair and impartial trial.
Trial court errors denied Petitioner a fair trial.
Petitioner was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of
Cumulative effect of interpretation errors, prosecutorial errors and
misconduct, trial court errors, and ineffective assistance of trial and
Petitioner’s default rights were violated where trial counsel was ineffective
in failing to investigate and properly argue inaccuracies in habitual charge
and improper scoring of PRV 1, PRV 2, PRV 5, and OV 3 and OV 9.
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Ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for failing to investigate and
bring up preserved issues that had merit.
The prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to prove home
invasion beyond a reasonable doubt.
(Pet., ECF No.1, PageID.6-17.)
The petition is timely
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat.
1214 (AEDPA) added a one-year statute of limitations for habeas petitions. Section 2244(d)(1)
(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas
corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The
limitation period shall run from the latest of
the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of
direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by
State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is
removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;
the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially
recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized
by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on
collateral review; or
the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims
presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).
In most cases, § 2244(d)(1)(A) provides the operative date from which the one-year
limitations period is measured. Under that provision, 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Petitioner appealed the judgment
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of conviction to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan
Supreme Court denied his application initially on February 4, 2019, and upon reconsideration on
May 28, 2019. See https://courts.michigan.gov/opinions_orders/case_search/pages/default.aspx?
SearchType=1&CaseNumber=338923&CourtType_CaseNumber=2 (visited Oct. 4, 2020).
Petitioner did not petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The one-year
limitations period, however, did not begin to run until the ninety-day period in which Petitioner
could have sought review in the United States Supreme Court had expired. See Lawrence v.
Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 332-33 (2007); Bronaugh v. Ohio, 235 F.3d 280, 283 (6th Cir. 2000). The
ninety-day period expired on August 26, 2019. Petitioner had one year from August 26, 2019—
until August 26, 2020—to file his habeas application.
Petitioner filed his petition on August 27, 2020, so the Court proceeded as if he had
filed his petition one day late. But, 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); see also Duncan v. Walker, 533
U.S. 167, 181-82 (2001) (limiting the tolling provision to only State, and not Federal, processes);
Artuz v. Bennett, 531 U.S. 4, 8 (2000) (defining “properly filed”). Petitioner reports that he filed
such a motion on May 5, 2020. His period of limitation has been tolled since that date, with 113
days remaining. His petition is not untimely.
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
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that state courts have a “fair opportunity” to apply controlling legal principles to the facts bearing
upon a petitioner’s constitutional claim. Id. at 844, 848; see also Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270,
275-77 (1971); Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995); 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. O’Sullivan,
526 U.S. at 845; Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 414 (6th Cir. 2009); Hafley v. Sowders, 902 F.2d
480, 483 (6th Cir. 1990). 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 acknowledges that his habeas issues I-VII are not exhausted. They
are pending now in the state courts by virtue of Petitioner’s motion for relief from judgment.
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—the procedure he is already pursuing—a motion for relief from judgment under Mich.
Ct. R. 6.500 et seq.
To properly exhaust his claim, Petitioner must continue to pursue his motion for
relief from judgment in the Berrien 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. O’Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845; Hafley, 902 F.2d at 483 (“‘[P]etitioner cannot be
deemed to have exhausted his state court remedies as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) and (c) as
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to any issue, unless he has presented that issue both to the Michigan Court of Appeals and to the
Michigan Supreme Court.’”) (citation omitted).
Because Petitioner has one claim that is exhausted and seven 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-and-abeyance 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). Presently, however, 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), with 113 days remaining. The
statute of limitations is tolled from the filing of an application for state post-conviction or other
collateral relief until a decision is issued by the state supreme court. Lawrence v. Florida, 549
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U.S. 327 (2007). Thus, so long as Petitioner’s request for collateral review is pending, the time
will not count against him. Once the Michigan Supreme Court rules on his application for leave
to appeal to that court, the statute of limitations will begin to run again.
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). Petitioner has far 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 and the Court will dismiss the petition for failure to
exhaust available state-court remedies. Should Petitioner decide to abandon 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.
Certificate of Appealability
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2), the Court must also 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). The Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeals has disapproved issuance of blanket denials of a certificate of
appealability. Murphy v. Ohio, 263 F.3d 466, 467 (6th Cir. 2001) (per curiam). Rather, the district
court must “engage in a reasoned assessment of each claim” to determine whether a certificate is
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I have concluded that Petitioner's application is properly denied for lack of
exhaustion. Under Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000), 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.
I find that reasonable jurists could not find it debatable whether Petitioner’s
application should be dismissed for lack of exhaustion. Therefore, a certificate of appealability
will be denied. Moreover, although Petitioner has failed to demonstrate that he is in custody in
violation of the Constitution and has failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right, the Court does not conclude that any issue Petitioner might raise on appeal
would be frivolous. Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962).
The Court will enter an order and judgment dismissing the petition for failure to
exhaust state-court remedies and denying a certificate of appealability.
October 14, 2020
/s/ Paul L. Maloney
Paul L. Maloney
United States District Judge
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