The opinion of the court was delivered by: Larimer, Chief Judge.
Petitioner, Marcus Garvey, while confined at the Attica
Correctional Facility, filed a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Following a jury trial in Supreme
Court, Monroe County, petitioner was convicted on each of four
counts involving the sale and possession of narcotics. These
charges stemmed from two drug sales made to an undercover police
officer. On July 28, 1989, Garvey was sentenced to a term of
imprisonment of fifteen years to life.
In October 1989, Garvey filed a motion in the trial court to
vacate his convictions under section 440.10 of the New York
Criminal Procedure Law. The ground for relief asserted in that
motion was that he had been denied effective assistance of
counsel. In January 1990, Monroe County Court Judge John Connell
denied petitioner's motion.
Garvey appealed from his convictions to the Appellate Division,
Fourth Department, alleging, inter alia, various evidentiary
errors, insufficiency of the evidence, and ineffective assistance
of counsel. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed
Garvey's convictions. People v. Garvey, 186 A.D.2d 983,
590 N.Y.S.2d 813 (4th Dep't 1992). In so doing, the Appellate
Division ruled that "[t]he verdict was supported by sufficient
evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence," and
that "the record fails to demonstrate that defendant was deprived
of the effective assistance of counsel." Id. The New York Court
of Appeals denied leave to appeal. People v. Garvey, 81 N.Y.2d 839,
595 N.Y.S.2d 738, 611 N.E.2d 777 (1993).
Garvey's habeas corpus petition originally raised three grounds
for relief: (1) denial of his right to a fair trial as a result
of evidentiary errors, a ground which Garvey subsequently
withdrew (Dkt.9, para.3); (2) insufficiency of the evidence
against him; and (3) ineffective assistance of counsel at the
pretrial stage and at trial.
I. Habeas Corpus — General Standards
The purpose of allowing state court convictions to be
collaterally attacked by means of a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus is not simply to add another tier of appellate review at
the federal level. "Federal courts are not forums in which to
relitigate state trials." Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390,
401, 113 S.Ct. 853, 122 L.Ed.2d 203 (1993) (quoting Barefoot v.
Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 887, 103 S.Ct. 3383, 77 L.Ed.2d 1090
(1983)). Rather, this court's function in considering Garvey's
petition is to determine whether his conviction violated the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. See
28 U.S.C. § 2254; Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68, 112 S.Ct.
475, 116 L.Ed.2d 385 (1991).
In accordance with that principle, Congress has placed certain
restrictions on the nature and extent of review that a federal
court can conduct in considering a § 2254 petition. In
particular, section 2254(d) of Title 28 provides that:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf
of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a
State court shall not be granted with respect to any
claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State
court proceedings unless the adjudication of the
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or
involved an unreasonable application of, clearly
established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme
Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of
the evidence ...