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ROLLINS v. LEONARDO

April 2, 1990

LARRY ROLLINS, A/K/A DONALD BEAUCHENE, PETITIONER,
v.
ARTHUR A. LEONARDO, SUPERINTENDENT, COMSTOCK CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, AND ROBERT ABRAMS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sand, District Judge.

OPINION

Larry Rollins, a/k/a Donald Beauchene, petitions this court for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner argues that his right against self-incrimination under the fifth amendment and his right to counsel under the sixth amendment were violated when the trial court failed to suppress a confession obtained after a defective Miranda warning, that petitioner was denied effective assistance of counsel at trial, and that the trial court erred by not assessing petitioner's competence to stand trial. For the reasons stated below, Rollins' petition is denied.

I. Background

On October 14, 1978, petitioner, a building superintendent's assistant and also evidently an escaped patient from a mental institution, painted the apartment of Paula Goldberg. According to Ms. Goldberg as petitioner was about to leave her apartment, he locked the door and started to punch her. After an extensive beating, Ms. Goldberg was raped and sodomized twice. Petitioner then offered to help Ms. Goldberg, telling her that he would call the police and inform them that he had saved her from her assailants.

When the police arrived, petitioner came out of the building, approached their car, and told the officers that a "young lady" in the building had just been beaten by two black men. Petitioner escorted Detective Reid and Officer Maczaj into the building and led them to the victim's apartment. At first Ms. Goldberg was unable to respond to the officers' questions, and each time the officers asked her what had happened, petitioner repeated his story about the two black men. When petitioner eventually was moved a few feet away from the victim, she jumped into Officer Maczaj's arms and identified the petitioner as her assailant.

Detective Reid immediately handcuffed petitioner and told him that he was under arrest for assault. Reid then advised petitioner that:

  he had the right to remain silent, the right to
  counsel, the right if he couldn't afford one, one
  would be provided for him, and that he didn't
  have to answer any questions unless he wanted.

Respondent's Supplemental Answer at 4. When Reid asked petitioner if had understood these warnings, petitioner did not respond.

Officer Maczaj then took petitioner into the hallway, asked him to identify himself, and asked if petitioner knew Ms. Goldberg. Petitioner replied that he did know her and that he was painting her apartment as an employee of the superintendent. When Maczaj asked petitioner if he had had an argument with Ms. Goldberg, petitioner answered "yes." Maczaj also asked if petitioner had beaten her, to which petitioner responded "yes, I did it."

Officer Maczaj, using a printed form, then read petitioner his complete Miranda warnings. After each warning, Maczaj asked petitioner if he understood. Upon completion of his recitation, Officer Maczaj asked petitioner if he was willing to answer questions without an attorney present. Petitioner responded affirmatively, and the officer once again asked petitioner about the incident, and petitioner again admitted that he had beaten Ms. Goldberg.

On February 14, 1980, Justice Greenfield of the New York Supreme Court, after conducting a hearing, denied petitioner's motion to suppress the inculpatory statements obtained by Officer Maczaj at the victim's apartment. Petitioner had also apparently refused to authorize the state of Maine to release any of his records. That same day petitioner proceeded to his jury trial in Supreme Court, New York County. On February 22, 1980 the jury found him guilty of two counts of Rape in the First Degree, N.Y. Penal Law 130.35 (McKinney 1983); two counts of Sodomy in the First Degree, N.Y. Penal Law § 130.50 (McKinney 1983); and one count of Assault in the First Degree, N Y Penal Law § 120.10 (McKinney 1983). Petitioner was sentenced on April 16, 1980 to concurrent prison terms of from 8 1/3 to 25 years on the Rape and Sodomy counts and 4 to 12 years on the Assault count. Three months after his conviction, petitioner was adjudicated mentally ill by a Maine superior court.

On October 14, 1982, petitioner, represented by new counsel, filed an appeal to the Appellate Division. In his appeal, petitioner claimed that the trial court had erred by not suppressing his statements after an improper Miranda warning, that he had not received a fair trial, and that he should be resentenced because there had not been a complete pre-sentence report and no psychiatric evaluation of the petitioner had been undertaken prior to sentencing. On March 13, 1984 the Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed petitioner's conviction. People v. Rollins, 99 A.D.2d 1032, 472 N.Y.S.2d 794 (1st Dept. 1984). Leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals was denied on May 18, 1984.

On August 7, 1986, petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. On October 22, 1987, the District Court dismissed the petition for failure to exhaust state remedies. On July 17, 1987, petitioner filed a motion to vacate judgment of his conviction pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law ยง 440.10 on the grounds that he was not afforded effective assistance of counsel and that his guilt was not established beyond a reasonable doubt. On September 23, 1987, Justice Greenfield, in a written decision, denied petitioner's motion. People v. Rollins, Indictment No. ...


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