Chase v. Macauley

Decision Date20 August 2020
Docket NumberNo. 19-1202,19-1202
Citation971 F.3d 582
Parties Freddie CHASE, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Matt MACAULEY, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit

COLE, Chief Judge.

Freddie Chase is a habeas petitioner who was sentenced under a Michigan sentencing scheme that allowed judge-found facts to raise his mandatory minimum sentence. The parties agree that this violated Chase's Sixth Amendment rights as described by the Supreme Court in Alleyne v. United States , 570 U.S. 99, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013). They dispute, however, whether Chase can overcome the procedural default of his Alleyne claim, as he did not raise this claim on direct appeal. Chase argues that his appellate counsel's failure to raise an Alleyne claim on direct appeal constituted ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, thereby demonstrating cause and prejudice to excuse any procedural default. We agree. We therefore reverse the judgment of the district court, conditionally grant Chase's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and remand to the district court with instructions to remand to the state sentencing court.

I. BACKGROUND

A jury convicted Freddie Chase of one count of kidnapping under Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.349, two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct under Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.520b, one count of unlawful imprisonment under Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.349b, and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon ("felonious assault") under Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.82. People v. Chase , No. 317102, 2014 WL 5364177, at *1 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 21, 2014) (per curiam). In June 2013, the state court imposed consecutive terms of 25 to 80 years’ imprisonment on the criminal sexual conduct counts, to be served concurrently with a 30- to 80-year sentence for the kidnapping, a 5- to 15-year sentence for unlawful imprisonment, and a 1- to 4-year sentence for each count of felonious assault.

In determining Chase's sentence, the court relied upon Michigan's sentencing guidelines. At the time, a Michigan sentencing court could only depart from the guidelines’ mandatory sentencing ranges upon a showing of "a substantial and compelling reason." Mich. Comp. Laws § 769.34(3). Under Michigan's sentencing scheme, courts used "prior record variables" and "offense variables" to calculate a defendant's sentencing range. Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 777.21(1)(b), 777.22.

In Chase's case, the sentencing court increased Chase's minimum sentencing range based on offense variables that had not been found by the jury, such as serving as a "leader" under Mich. Comp. Laws § 777.44, causing "[b]odily injury requiring medical treatment" under Mich. Comp. Laws § 777.33, and causing "[s]erious psychological injury requiring professional treatment" under Mich. Comp. Laws § 777.34. In all, Chase calculates that judge-found facts doubled his mandatory minimum sentence under Michigan's sentencing guidelines, increasing it from 135 to 270 months. Warden Matt MaCauley ("Warden") agrees that judge-found facts were used to increase Chase's mandatory minimum sentence.

Three days after Chase's sentencing, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Alleyne v. United States , 570 U.S. 99, 103, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013), holding that the Sixth Amendment requires any fact that increases a defendant's mandatory minimum sentence be found by a jury, not a judge. Because Chase's direct appeal was not complete at the time that Alleyne was decided, that decision applies to his case. See Griffith v. Kentucky , 479 U.S. 314, 328, 107 S.Ct. 708, 93 L.Ed.2d 649 (1987). A few weeks after Alleyne was decided, the state trial court appointed appellate counsel to represent Chase in his direct appeal.

Several months later, on December 12, 2013, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a ruling regarding the impact of Alleyne on Michigan's sentencing scheme. People v. Herron , 303 Mich.App. 392, 845 N.W.2d 533 (2013) (per curiam). The defendant in Herron filed a supplemental brief after Alleyne was decided, arguing that the use of judicial factfinding in Michigan's mandatory sentencing scheme was unconstitutional in light of Alleyne . Id. at 537. The Court of Appeals rejected the defendant's contention, reasoning that under the particular characteristics of Michigan's sentencing scheme, "judicial fact-finding in scoring the sentencing guidelines produces a recommended range for the minimum sentence of an indeterminate sentence," not a "mandatory minimum" within the meaning of Alleyne . Id. at 539, 133 S.Ct. 2151.

Because Herron was a published decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals, all subsequent panels of the Court of Appeals were bound to follow it until the law was modified by the Michigan Supreme Court or a special panel of the Court of Appeals convened to resolve disagreement between appellate panels. See Mich. Ct. R. 7.215(J)(1). However, this did not dissuade a number of defendants in Michigan from continuing to raise Alleyne claims in their direct appeals. See, e.g. , People v. Taylor, No. 318827, 2015 WL 340392, at *4 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 27, 2015) (per curiam); People v. Horn , No. 316757, 2014 WL 6804518, at *7 (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 2, 2014), rev'd in part , 498 Mich. 903, 870 N.W.2d 896 (2015).1

On February 13, 2014, another panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a decision addressing Alleyne ’s impact on Michigan's sentencing scheme. See People v. Lockridge , 304 Mich.App. 278, 849 N.W.2d 388 (2014). Though the Lockridge panel rejected the defendant's Alleyne claim because it was bound by Herron , id. at 391, two judges on the three-judge panel wrote concurring opinions, each expressing the view that Herron was wrongly decided and detailing at length why Alleyne rendered Michigan's sentencing scheme unconstitutional, id. at 391–405 (Beckering, J., concurring), 405–08 (Shapiro, J., concurring).

On March 20, 2014, more than a month after the Michigan Court of AppealsLockridge decision criticizing Herron , Chase's attorney filed an opening brief in Chase's direct appeal. Chase's attorney raised only one argument: that Chase's trial counsel had been ineffective for failing to request a missing evidence instruction based on the prosecution's failure to turn over the recording of a 911 call. Chase's appellate brief raised no claim related to his sentence and made no mention of Alleyne .

In contrast, other defendants who filed briefs around this time persisted in raising Alleyne claims. See, e.g. , People v. Minor , No. 315281, 2014 WL 5306030, at *2 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 16, 2014) (per curiam), rev'd in part , 498 Mich. 903, 870 N.W.2d 915 (2015) ; People v. Cutter , No. 317355, 2014 WL 6679313, at *5 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 25, 2014) (per curiam), rev'd in part , 499 Mich. 909, 878 N.W.2d 286 (2016) ; People v. Lockmondy , No. 317412, 2014 WL 7004028, at *1–2 (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 11, 2014) (per curiam); People v. Haggard , No. 318625, 2015 WL 674365, at *4 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 17, 2015) (per curiam), rev'd in part , 498 Mich. 903, 870 N.W.2d 899 (2015) ; People v. Evans , No. 318214, 2015 WL 847141, at *3 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 26, 2015) (per curiam). The defendants’ appellate briefs in these cases were filed after Herron and the panel decision in Lockridge , but before the Michigan Supreme Court weighed in on this question—i.e. , in the same time frame as Chase's brief.2

On June 11, 2014, three months after Chase's appellate brief was filed, the Michigan Supreme Court granted leave for the defendant in Lockridge to appeal in order for Michigan's highest court to address Alleyne ’s impact on Michigan's sentencing scheme. People v. Lockridge , 496 Mich. 852, 846 N.W.2d 925 (2014). That same day, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the application for leave to appeal in Herron would be held in abeyance until it decided Lockridge . People v. Herron , 846 N.W.2d 924 (Mich. 2014).

While the Lockridge case was pending before the Michigan Supreme Court, panels of the Michigan Court of Appeals were bound by Herron , as "a Supreme Court order granting leave to appeal does not diminish the precedential effect of a published opinion of the Court of Appeals." Mich. Ct. R. 7.215(C)(2). Nonetheless, given the Lockridge Court of Appeals decision critiquing Herron and the Michigan Supreme Court's agreement to hear the case, more defendants in Michigan continued to raise Alleyne challenges to their sentence during this time. See, e.g. , People v. Young , No. 317981, 2014 WL 7338904, at *8 (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 23, 2014) (per curiam), rev'd in part , 498 Mich. 903, 870 N.W.2d 722 (2015) ; People v. Parker , No. 319089, 2015 WL 774637, at *3 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 24, 2015) (per curiam), rev'd in part , 498 Mich. 903, 870 N.W.2d 912 (2015) ; People v. Matsey , No. 319076, 2015 WL 849005, at *2 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 26, 2015) (per curiam), rev'd in part , 498 Mich. 903, 870 N.W.2d 565 (2015) ; People v. Johnson , No. 318833, 2015 WL 1122283, at *8 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 12, 2015) (per curiam), rev'd in part , 499 Mich. 851, 873 N.W.2d 565 (2016) ; People v. Charleston , No. 320128, 2015 WL 1277007, at *2 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 19, 2015) (per curiam), rev'd in part , 498 Mich. 903, 870 N.W.2d 690 (2015).3

Moreover, where a defendant had failed to raise an Alleyne claim in his opening brief but subsequently sought to add such a claim after the Michigan Supreme Court granted leave to appeal in Lockridge , the Court of Appeals permitted him to do so. See Order Granting Mot. to File Suppl. Br., People v. Stokes , No. 319136 (Mich. Ct. App. June 26, 2014) (No. 25), available at https://courts.michigan.gov/courts/coa/pages/casesearch.aspx; see also People v. Stokes , No. 319136, 2015 WL 849039, at *3 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 26, 2015) (per curiam). Chase's attorney filed no such supplemental brief.

On July 9, 2014, about a month after the Michigan Supreme Court agreed to address the question of Alleyne ’s impact on the Michigan sentencing guidelines, ...

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