The opinion of the court was delivered by: VINCENT L. BRODERICK
VINCENT L. BRODERICK, U.S.D.J.
Ronald L. Mead, proceeding pro se has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC § 2254, challenging his state court conviction for murder in the second degree (felony murder) on September 19, 1985. His conviction was upheld on appellate review in People v. Mead, 124 A.D.2d 1076, 508 N.Y.S.2d 359 (3d Dep't 1986), leave to appeal to Court of Appeals denied, 69 N.Y.2d 748, 512 N.Y.S.2d 1052 (1987). The Sullivan County Court, Judge Williams, sentenced him to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of eighteen (18) years to life pursuant to a plea agreement.
The Sullivan County Court, Judge Hanofee, denied Mead's motion to vacate the conviction pursuant to New York Crim. Proc. Law § 440.10 (the "state motion to vacate"). People v. Mead, Index No. 2216/84 (NY Co Ct July 10, 1985). The Appellate Division, Third Department, Justice Mahoney, rejected an application for leave to appeal that order on September 21, 1989.
The federal habeas corpus statute concerning writs sought by state prisoners provides in part:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, or that there is either an absence of available State corrective process or the existence of circumstances rendering such process ineffective to protect the rights of the prisoner.
Under the criteria set forth in Washington v. James, 996 F.2d 1442, 1451 (2d Cir 1993), it is appropriate to reach the merits here, since I find the petition to lack merit, and federalism would be better served by avoiding the need for repetitive state and federal litigation. That consideration applies in this instance and thus I rule on both branches of the case.
Mead asserts as the single basis for his habeas application: "Conviction obtained by plea of guilty which was induced and not made knowingly, voluntarily or intelligently" (petition at 5). The potential breadth of this ground requires the court to distill the actual claims from the affidavit accompanying the petition. See Jackson v. Senkowski, 814 F. Supp. 9, 10 (SDNY 1993).
Mead contends that the state trial court was aware from medical records available at the time of the plea that he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder exacerbated by alcohol and drug intoxication at the time of the offense. Mead asserts that despite this knowledge the state trial court failed to conduct a hearing to determine his fitness to stand trial pursuant to NY Crim Proc Law § 730.10. He claims that his attorney, also possessed of the same knowledge, advised him that if he failed to accept the plea bargain, the court would impose a minimum indeterminate sentence of 33-1/3 years.
When Mead moved to withdraw the plea prior to sentencing, the state trial court again did not conduct a hearing on the issue ...