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United States v. Henderson

decided: September 25, 1975; As Amended October 6, 1975.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. CARL BUFORD, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
ROBERT J. HENDERSON, SUPERINTENDENT, AUBURN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE



Appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Whitman Knapp, Judge, denying a state prisoner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, in which appellant contends on appeal that for the purpose of pursuing the petition he was entitled to a transcript of a state court hearing upon his motion to suppress certain evidence and an additional copy of the state court trial. Affirmed.

Smith, Mansfield and Oakes, Circuit Judges.

Author: Mansfield

MANSFIELD, Circuit Judge:

Carl Buford, presently serving a sentence of from 25 years to life at the Auburn Correctional Facility pursuant to his conviction on June 18, 1968, of murder in the second degree after a jury trial in the Rockland County Court, appeals from a denial by the Southern District of New York, Whitman Knapp, Judge, of his petition for writ of habeas corpus brought under 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 2241 and 2254. We affirm.

In 1967 a Rockland County grand jury filed an indictment charging Buford with the murder of one Yvonne Dove, allegedly his paramour. Following a pretrial hearing upon Buford's motion to suppress oral statements given by him to police at the time of his arrest and certain exhibits introduced before the grand jury (shirt, buttons, photographs of defendant's hand and arm, fingernail scrapings removed by the police at the time of his arrest and a State Police laboratory report), Justice John A. Gallucci of the Rockland County Court found in a detailed decision dated April 10, 1968, which recites the circumstances of Buford's arrest, that Buford volunteered certain self-incriminatory statements to the police before his arrest, that he was thereafter lawfully arrested, fully advised of his rights in accordance with Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966), and that he then knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived these rights. The court further found that the physical evidence taken from Buford at the time of his arrest, including the fingernail scrapings, did not violate his constitutional rights, citing United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 18 L. Ed. 2d 1149, 87 S. Ct. 1926 (1967), and Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 16 L. Ed. 2d 908, 86 S. Ct. 1826 (1966).

In May 1968 a jury trial resulted in Buford's conviction, which was unanimously affirmed by the Appellate Division, People v. Buford, 37 A.D.2d 38, 324 N.Y.S.2d 100 (2d Dept. 1971). Leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals was denied on September 28, 1971. Represented by counsel, petitioner thereafter instituted state habeas corpus and coram nobis proceedings which were pursued through the Appellate Division, where they were denied. For purposes of prosecuting the direct appeal and the post-trial applications for relief, Buford was furnished with a copy of the trial transcript of approximately 3,000 pages.

On March 7, 1974, petitioner, acting pro se, filed the present petition in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, asserting claims that had been raised in the state courts on his direct appeal and in his post-trial petitions. The federal petition, in somewhat of a blunderbuss-type approach, seeks relief on numerous different grounds which may be summarized as follows:

1. The state trial court improperly admitted incriminatory evidence that either was not connected to Buford or had been taken from him in violation of his Due Process or Equal Protection rights. Petitioner claims that the state improperly introduced fingernail scrapings taken from him before he received Miranda warnings, that the state failed to connect the scrapings or other evidence (bits of teeth and hair-like matter) to him or to the deceased, and that the corpus delicti and cause of death were never proven, the evidence of death having been the subject of conflicting and inadmissible expert testimony.

2. The use of circumstantial evidence at the trial to prove disputed facts deprived Buford of his constitutional right to require proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

3. The Miranda warnings were administered by the police to Buford in such a "hasty and lackadaisical" manner that he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his rights, resulting in the improper admission at trial of incriminatory statements and evidence obtained from him in violation of his constitutional rights.

4. The state suppressed evidence favorable to the defense, consisting of a report of a police sergeant to the effect that a young boy had stated that one "John Sinclair" had committed the crime.*fn1

5. The state court improperly refused to strike certain exhibits that were not connected to the defendant, including photographs or descriptions of the scene of the crime.

6. The evidence was insufficient to convict Buford.

7. The appellate court erroneously permitted the state on appeal to substitute replacement for certain exhibits, including substitutes for ...


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