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CRAWFORD v. ARTUZ

September 22, 2000

THOMAS L. CRAWFORD, PETITIONER,
V.
CHRISTOPHER ARTUZ, SUPERINTENDENT, GREEN HAVEN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marrero, District Judge.

DECISION AND ORDER

Thomas L. Crawford, pro se and incarcerated, petitions for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, attacking his 1992 New York State murder conviction. The Respondent, represented by the New York County District Attorney's Office (the "State"), moves to dismiss the petition on two alternative grounds: 1) it is barred by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's ("AEDPA") one year limitations period, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1); or 2) it is precluded for failure to exhaust state remedies. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

In 1992, Crawford was convicted of murder in New York County Supreme Court. He was sentenced to twenty five years to life imprisonment and is currently incarcerated at Clinton Correctional Facility. The Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the conviction, and, on January 27, 1997, the New York State Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal from the Appellate Division. See People v. Crawford, 231 A.D.2d 431, 647 N.Y.S.2d 729 (1st Dept. 1996), leave to appeal denied, 89 N.Y.2d 941, 655 N.Y.S.2d 892, 678 N.E.2d 505 (1997). Crawford did not petition the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari.

Crawford filed the instant petition in October 1998, raising several grounds for relief, among them failure to give a proper Miranda warning, involuntary confession, and ineffective assistance of counsel. Crawford claims that he raised the same challenges to his conviction on collateral attack in state court under N.Y.Crim. P. Law § 440.10. In his § 2254 petition, Crawford indicates that the § 440.10 motion was denied without hearing on February 27, 1998. There is no record of that decision, however, and as will be discussed, other papers before the Court suggest that the § 440.10 motion, if indeed filed, was never resolved.

In November 1999, the State informed the Court that the trial court's file with respect to Crawford's case was missing, and that there was no record of the § 440.10 motion having been filed or decided. Upon the State's request, Judge Koeltl directed Crawford to produce to the State any documents in his possession that related to the § 440.10 motion so that issues of exhaustion and timeliness could be resolved.

In response to the Court's Order, Crawford produced the following:

(1) a July 1, 1997 letter from the trial court's "Motion Support Office" acknowledging receipt of a "440.10 motion";

(2) a December 22, 1997 letter from the Motion Support Office acknowledging receipt of an unspecified motion;

(3) the trial court's February 27, 1998 order denying Crawford's request for poor person's relief;

(4) the State's letter to the Appellate Division opposing Crawford's application for leave to appeal from the February 27, 1998 order; and

(5) Crawford's September 20, 1998 letter to the trial court's Motions Clerk, complaining that he had received no decision on his § 440.10 motion.

The State then filed this pre-answer motion to dismiss. The State's attorney attests that she has searched diligently but has not found the elusive § 440.10 motion, any record of its disposition, or Crawford's case file. However, Counsel also declares that she has uncovered a "motions logbook" maintained by the trial court which reveals that Crawford filed a "440.10 motion" on June 26, 1997. The State has also provided — presumably from the prosecutor's case file — 1) a letter from the Motion Support Office to Crawford informing him that his § 440.10 motion had been calendared for July 25, 1997, and that he would be notified when a decision had been entered, and 2) a ...


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