Friday, October 22, 2010

Michigan court decisions citing Rule 6.508 do not constitute a "reasoned" decision

In an en banc decision, 10a0333p.06 , the Court held that when Michigan courts issue a decision citing to their Rule 6.508(D), this does not constitute a reasoned decision to uphold a procedural bar to habeas relief. The court reviewed the way that Michigan courts utilized the rule, and found ample precedent that such summary orders were used both for decisions on the merits, as well as procedural decisions. The Court found "Michigan’s primary argument that orders citing Rule 6.508(D) can only refer to procedural default is untenable in light of Jackson and the procedural history of cases like Allen and the present case." The Court further found "a duty to protect a state’s interest in its procedural rules is only applicable once we determine that the state has decided a given case on a procedural basis."

Further, the Court found that, once the State had lost this procedural issue, it had failed to preserve a challenge to the district court's holding regarding ineffective assistance on the merits. As such, the Court granted habeas relief.

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