Morris filed with this Court in March 1998 a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus which was later amended to remove
unexhausted claims and refiled as the instant petition raising
two points as grounds for relief. These arguments were the same
ones Morris had made in his state court appeal: that (1) absent
impropriety in the taking of the plea, the Trial Justice lacked
authority sua sponte and without Morris's consent to vacate
Morris's plea and restore the previously dismissed felony charge
and (2) the reinstatement of the felony count violated Morris's
federal double jeopardy rights. See Amended Petition for a Writ
of Habeas Corpus, dated May 21, 1999, at 3-4. The State's
response to Morris's amended petition argued that Morris's first
ground must be dismissed because it did not raise a federal
constitutional issue (see Memorandum of Law in Opposition to
Writ, dated July, 1999, at 13), and that Morris's rights under
the Double Jeopardy Clause were not violated because the vacatur
of a guilty plea was not the equivalent of an acquittal based on
the adjudication of the factual elements of the charge. See id.
Counsel was appointed in August 1999 to represent Morris with
regard to this petition. The Magistrate Judge issued a thorough,
reasoned Report and Recommendation (the "Report") on December 16,
1999. With respect to Morris's first ground, the Magistrate Judge
found that the argument raised a question of state law
authoritatively answered by the New York Court of Appeals. See
Report at 13. The analysis of the constitutional claim, however,
yielded a conclusion that Morris's double jeopardy rights were
violated, prompting a recommendation that Morris be released.
See id. at 29-30. The Bronx County District Attorney,
representing the State, filed objections to the Report. Morris
submitted a response to the objections, urging that the
Magistrate Judge's findings be upheld.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
A. Magistrate Judge's Report
The Federal Magistrate Act provides that a district judge may
"designate a magistrate to conduct hearings, including
evidentiary hearings" in order to "submit to a judge of the court
proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition
. . . of applications for posttrial relief made by individuals
convicted of criminal offenses. . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)
(2000). In reviewing the Report, this Court "may accept, reject,
or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations
made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(2000); see
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Any party may object to the Magistrate
Judge's findings and recommendations. See id. If an objection
is timely filed, as is the case here, the Court is bound to make
a "de novo determination of those portions of the report . . . or
recommendations to which objection is made." Id. See United
States v. Male Juvenile, 121 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 1997).
B. Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that, because Morris's
petition was filed after the effective date of the Anti-Terrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), this action is
governed by the habeas statute as amended. See Williams v.
Taylor, ___ U.S. ___, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000);
28 U.S.C. § 2254. Pursuant to the various sections of
28 U.S.C. § 2254, this Court's review is guided by certain restrictions on
the nature and extent of review that a federal court can conduct
in considering a habeas petition.
A federal court may entertain a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus only where the petitioner has first "exhausted the
remedies available in the courts of the State."
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A) (2000).
See Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275, 92 S.Ct. 509, 30
L.Ed.2d 438 (1971); Caballero v. Keane, 42 F.3d 738, 740 (2d
Cir. 1994); Daye v. Attorney General of New York, 696 F.2d 186,
190 (2d Cir. 1982). This requirement mandates a habeas petitioner
to have "fairly presented" in state court the claims that are
raised in the habeas petition. Picard, 404 U.S. at 275, 92
S.Ct. 509. See Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365-66, 115 S.Ct.
887, 130 L.Ed.2d 865 (1995); Strogov v. Attorney General of New
York, 191 F.3d 188, 191 (2d Cir. 1999), cert. denied, ___ U.S.
___, 120 S.Ct. 2723, 147 L.Ed.2d 987 (2000); Gonzalez v.
Sullivan, 934 F.2d 419, 422 (2d Cir. 1991). The petitioner must
present both the factual and legal premises of his claims to the
state court. See Daye, 696 F.2d at 191-92. In this case, the
State has conceded that the two claims Morris raises in the
instant petition were exhausted in state courts. See
Gianfrancesco Aff., ¶ 19 n. 1; Report at 12. The Magistrate Judge
found that these claims were exhausted. See Report at 12. This
Court finds sufficient support in the record to sustain the
Magistrate Judge's finding in this regard. Accordingly, this
Court concludes that Petitioner's claims have been exhausted.
2. Presumption of Correctness
In a habeas corpus proceeding, "a determination of a factual
issue made by a state court shall be presumed to be correct."
28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) (2000). Petitioner, however, may rebut the
presumption by clear and convincing evidence. See id.; Pons v.
Artuz, 00 Civ. 2004, 2000 WL 777942, at *2 (2d Cir. June 14,
2000). Consequently, this Court presumes that the factual
findings of the New York courts are correct and will not set
aside those findings unless "`the material facts were not
adequately developed at the State court hearing' or the court's
factual determinations are not fairly supported by the record."
James v. Greiner, 99 Civ. 2513, 2000 WL 233696, at *1 (2d Cir.
Feb. 16, 2000) (quoting Smith v. Mann, 173 F.3d 73, 76 (2d Cir.
1999)). In this case, the Court concludes that deference should
be accorded to the New York state courts' factual findings and
pertinent elaborations. See discussion, infra.
3. The "Contrary to" and "Unreasonable Application" Prongs
Section 2254 of the AEDPA now provides:
(d) 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. . . .
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) (2000).