Smith #267009 v. Bauman

Filing 2

OPINION ; signed by Judge R. Allan Edgar (Judge R. Allan Edgar, cam)

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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN NORTHERN DIVISION DERRICK LEE SMITH, Petitioner, Case No. 2:15-cv-90 v. Honorable R. Allan Edgar CATHERINE BAUMAN, Respondent. ____________________________________/ OPINION 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. Discussion I. Factual allegations Petitioner Derrick Lee Smith is incarcerated by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Alger Correctional Facility. According to his petition, he pleaded guilty in 1998 to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC III), Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520d(1)(b), and was sentenced to prison terms of 6 to 15 years for each count. According to his MDOC profile,1 in 2008, he was convicted of six counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC I), Mich. Comp. Laws § 520b(1)(c), and two counts of kidnapping, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.349. For each of the CSC I and kidnapping convictions, he received sentences of 22 years and 6 months to 75 years in prison. In this action, Petitioner claims that he is being improperly held in custody under the 1998 sentences, and the MDOC refuses to recognize that these sentences have expired. II. 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 1 See http://mdocweb.state.mi.us/OTIS2/otis2profile.aspx?mdocNumber=267009 (visited July 22, 2015). -2- 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 does not allege that he raised the issue presented in his petition in state proceedings. He contends that exhaustion is not an issue because no state remedy is available to him. 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). Contrary to Petitioner’s assertion, he has at least one available procedure by which to raise the issue he has presented in this application. He may file an application for writ of habeas corpus in state court. If that remedy is not available, he may file a complaint against the MDOC for an order of mandamus. See, e.g., Lickfeldt v. Dep’t of Corr., 636 N.W.2d 272 (Mich. Ct. App. 2001) (considering a complaint for order of mandamus by a state prisoner and holding that the MDOC was required to terminate the first sentence in a string of consecutive sentences, because the first sentence had expired). There is no indication that Petitioner has pursued any of these avenues for relief. Conclusion For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss the petition for failure to exhaust available state-court remedies. -3- 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. -4- 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, [1] that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right and [2] 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 appealability. An Order and Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered. Dated: 7/29/2015 /s/ R. Allan Edgar R. ALLAN EDGAR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE -5-

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