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GARVEY v. KELLY

June 6, 2000

MARCUS GARVEY, PLAINTIFF,
V.
WALTER R. KELLY, SUPERINTENDENT, ATTICA CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Larimer, Chief Judge.

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

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.

DISCUSSION

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 claim —
(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 ...

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