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Reign v. Gidley

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 10, 2019

Marcus Magnum Reign, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Lori Gidley, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

          Argued: May 9, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:17-cv-11692-Gershwin A. Drain, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Michael H. McGinley, DECHERT LLP, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Appellant.

          Linus Richard Banghart-Linn, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Michael H. McGinley, DECHERT LLP, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Appellant.

          Linus Richard Banghart-Linn, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: ROGERS, DONALD, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          ROGERS, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Marcus Magnum Reign was convicted of armed robbery in Michigan state court. He was originally sentenced under a mandatory guidelines scheme that determined his minimum sentence and incorporated judge-found facts. As became clear before the judgment was final, such a sentence would violate his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. See Robinson v. Woods, 901 F.3d 710, 714 (6th Cir. 2018); People v. Lockridge, 870 N.W.2d 502, 513-14 (Mich. 2015) (applying Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), and United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005)). In the end the sentencing court recognized the Sixth-Amendment-driven change in the law from a mandatory to an advisory guideline scheme. The sentencing court nonetheless imposed a minimum sentence within the relevant guidelines, taking into account such judge-found facts, reasoning that the advisory nature of the guidelines did not affect the court's previous application of the guidelines. Magnum Reign[1] now appeals the denial of habeas relief by the federal district court below, arguing that he is entitled to a resentencing hearing, essentially because the guidelines were considered mandatory at the time of his hearing, even though not at the time that his sentence became final. Declining to conduct such a new hearing in this case was not contrary to, nor did it involve an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, and habeas relief was therefore properly denied. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).

         In August 2014, Magnum Reign pled guilty to one count of armed robbery in Michigan state court. At the time, minimum sentences in Michigan were chosen by the sentencing court from a range computed under nearly mandatory guidelines. The state sentencing court calculated Magnum Reign's minimum-sentence guidelines range at 108-180 months. This calculation was built in part upon judge-found facts, neither admitted by Magnum Reign nor found by a jury. The sentencing court chose a minimum sentence of 144 months, at the middle of the range.

         After Magnum Reign moved to correct his sentence in January 2015, the sentencing court recalculated the guidelines range for his minimum sentence at 81-135 months, or roughly 6 ¾ to 11 ¼ years. At the second sentencing hearing, however, Magnum Reign's counsel incorrectly stated that the range was "around 7 years to about 13 years." Even though the sentencing court again stated its intention to sentence in the middle of his guidelines range, the court gave Magnum Reign a minimum sentence of ten years, halfway between seven and thirteen, instead of nine years, the actual middle of his range.

         Five days after this first resentencing, the Michigan Supreme Court handed down its decision in People v. Lockridge, 870 N.W.2d 502 (Mich. 2015). In Lockridge, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the Michigan guidelines scheme violated defendants' Sixth Amendment rights under Alleyne, because it was all but mandatory and incorporated judge-found facts to increase minimum sentences. See 870 N.W.2d at 513-14. The Michigan Supreme Court's remedy was to "Booker-ize the Michigan sentencing guidelines, i.e., render them advisory only." Id. at 520; see Booker, 543 U.S. at 245. Lockridge accordingly made the Michigan guidelines for minimum sentences akin to the federal guidelines-advisory, but "a highly relevant consideration in a trial court's exercise of sentencing discretion." 870 N.W.2d at 520. Thus, Lockridge did not change how the guidelines ranges for minimum sentences were computed; the only change was that they were no longer binding on the sentencing judge. To provide guidance to Michigan appellate courts, the Michigan Supreme Court instructed that "in cases in which a defendant's minimum sentence was ...


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