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JONES v. HOOD

May 17, 1993

ROBERT JONES, Petitioner,
v.
DAVID HOOD, Superintendent, Respondent.


HECKMAN


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CAROL E. HECKMAN

This petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 was referred to the undersigned by Hon. John T. Elfvin to consider whether new counsel should be appointed to represent Petitioner, and to prepare a Report and Recommendation upon consideration of all matters pertinent to the disposition of this proceeding.

 In exercising its discretion to appoint counsel to indigents in civil cases, the Court is guided by the factors set forth in Cooper v. A. Sargenti Co., Inc., 877 F.2d 170 (2d Cir. 1989), and Hodge v. Police Officers 802 F.2d 58 (2d Cir. 1986). Under those cases, the Court should "first determine whether the indigent's position seems likely to be of substance." Id., supra, 802 F.2d at 61. Only if the claim meets this threshold requirement should the Court consider "secondary" criteria, such as the indigent's ability to obtain representation independently, his or her ability to handle the case without assistance in the light of the required factual investigation, the complexity of the legal issues, and the need for expertly conducted cross-examination to test veracity. Cooper v. A. Sargenti Co., Inc., supra, 877 F.2d at 172.

 In making the threshold inquiry in this case, it has become clear from the state court records filed with Respondent's answer that Petitioner has failed to exhaust his state court remedies as to each of the claims presented in this petition. I therefore deny Petitioner's request for appointment of counsel, and recommend that the petition be summarily dismissed by the District Court in accordance with the Habeas Corpus Rules, for the reasons set forth below.

 FACTS

 On April 27, 1981 Petitioner was found guilty in New York State Supreme Court, New York County, of second degree murder. He was sentenced as a juvenile offender to an indeterminate term of eight years to life (App. Brief, p. 3). *fn1" On August 3, 1981, Petitioner was transferred to the Masten Park Security Center in Buffalo, New York (id.).

 On December 28, 1985, Petitioner was involved in an altercation with several members of the Masten Park staff during which Petitioner struck guard Billy Williams (P. 8-9). *fn2" Petitioner was charged with assault in the second degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 120.05(7), *fn3" and held for the grand jury after preliminary hearing in Buffalo City Court (P. 2). While awaiting indictment, Petitioner accepted an offer to plead guilty to attempted assault in the second degree, a class E felony, in exchange for a promise of a minimum consecutive sentence of one and one-half to 3 years (P. 7). On March 11, 1986, Petitioner was sentenced as a second felony offender to an indeterminate term of one and one-half to three years, to run consecutive to his term of eight years to life (S. 6). *fn4" Petitioner was represented by counsel at the plea hearing and at sentencing.

 On June 19, 1986, Petitioner filed a notice of appeal to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. In his appellate brief, he argued that his plea was illegally obtained since the sentencing court, the prosecution, and defense counsel were all operating under the mistaken assumption that the Masten Park facility was a "correctional facility" as that term is defined in § 40(3) of the N.Y. Correction Law. *fn5"

 On April 8, 1988, the Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the judgment of conviction and sentence, without opinion. People v. Jones, 139 A.D.2d 976, 527 N.Y.S.2d 668 (4th Dept. 1988). Petitioner did not appeal from this affirmance. Instead, on September 7, 1990, while incarcerated at the Otisville Correctional Facility, he filed this petition pro se in the Southern District of New York. By order dated September 7, 1990, Judge Thomas P. Griesa, Acting Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York, transferred the petition to the Western District pursuant to Rule 32 of the Local Rules for the Southern District, based on the location of the county in which Petitioner was convicted.

 Petitioner raises two grounds for habeas corpus relief:

 
(1) that his conviction was obtained by a plea of guilty which was unlawfully induced, since he was misled by the court and the prosecution to believe that he was confined in a "correctional facility" at the time of his arrest and conviction, as that term is used in N.Y. Penal Law § 120.05(7) and defined in N.Y. Correction Law § 40(3); and,
 
(2) that his plea was not made voluntarily with understanding of the nature of the charge and the consequences since he was not confined in a "correctional facility," and the person he assaulted was not a "correctional guard."

 DISCUSSION

 Before a federal court may address the merits of any constitutional issue on a writ of habeas corpus, the petitioner must have exhausted all available state remedies as to that issue. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c); Gonzalez v. Sullivan, 934 F.2d 419, 422 (2d Cir. 1991). Exhaustion of available state remedies requires presentation of the claim to the highest state court from which a decision can be had. Daye v. Attorney General of the State of New ...


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