United States District Court, Southern District of New York
June 3, 2003
EDGAR QUINONES, PETITIONER,
DAVID L. MILLER, SUPERINTENDENT, EASTERN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, RESPONDENT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Andrew J. Peck, Magistrate Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
To the Honorable William H. Pauley III, United States District Judge.
Edgar Quinones, pro se, petitions for a writ of habeas corpus from his July 10, 1995 conviction in Supreme Court, New York County, of second degree murder and second and third degree criminal possession of a weapon, for which he was sentenced as a repeat offender to concurrent terms the longest of which was twenty years to life imprisonment. See People v. Quinones, 272 A.D.2d 228, 228, 708 N.Y.S.2d 616, 616 (1st Dep't 2000). Quinones' amended petition claims ineffective assistance of trial counsel on multiple grounds, including a conflict of interest. (Dkt. No. 1: Petition at 3; Dkt. No. 10: Amended Pet. ¶ 1.)
Quinones' conflict claim asserts that since his attorney, Alvin Morris, also represented Quinones' brother Dennis when Dennis was arrested for possession of a .380 caliber handgun, Dennis must be the real killer. Brother Dennis and attorney Morris are dead, so there is no way to test whether these assertions have any basis in reality. The Court's first reaction on reading Quinones' conflict claim was that, in light of attorney Morris' and Dennis' deaths, the claim was frivolous. On further review, however, while the Court is denying the claim, it has required a great deal of analysis.
Conversely, on reading Quinones' general claims of ineffective assistance, the Court initially was troubled by some of Morris' alleged deficiencies. In deciding the petition, the Court has carefully read the entire trial transcript, and concludes that while Morris' conduct of the trial was not stellar, it did not constitute ineffective assistance.
For the reasons discussed below, Quinones' petition should be DENIED.
Quinones' Pretrial Request for Change of Counsel
On April 24, 1995, Quinones requested the trial court to replace his retained counsel, Alvin Morris, because, according to Quinones, Morris had neither interviewed witnesses nor filed motions. (Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Appendix: Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Motion Ex. P: 4/24/95 Transcript at 3.) The court noted that the latter was not true because "extensive motions were filed." (Id.)*fn1 Further, Morris had negotiated a plea offer with the prosecution for a five- to ten-year sentence, which Quinones rejected, despite a warning from the judge that the deal "is ridiculously low" and if he turns it down and is convicted, "he faces twenty-five to life." (Id. at 2.) The court pointed out that Morris was retained counsel, and warned that any new retained lawyer would have to be prepared for trial in thirty days. (Id. at 4-5.) Ultimately, Quinones did not replace Morris.
Pretrial Suppression Hearing
Lamont Carter was murdered on December 31, 1992, at approximately 7:20 p.m. on the corner of 132nd Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. (6/1/95 Wade Hearing Transcript ["H"] 5-6, 29-30.) Quinones was arrested for the crime on August 20, 1993 (Milian: H.16), after two eyewitnesses — Carol Deans and Marion Scarlett — placed him at the scene (Milian: H. 9-11, 14, 16, 28, 30).
On June 1 and June 2, 1995, the court conducted a pretrial Wade hearing to determine the propriety of three separate photo array identifications by Deans and Scarlett and a lineup identification by Deans. (H. 46.) The court heard testimony from Detectives George Milian and Ronald Balzan, who obtained the identifications. (Milian: H. 7-9, 14, 16-17; Balzan: H. 41.)
Detective Milian testified that Carol Deans witnessed the shooting. (Milian: H. 7, 28.) On January 3, 1993, just three days after the shooting, Deans identified Quinones in a photo array by stating: "`This looks a lot like the guy that did the shooting. If I had him in person, I could be absolutely sure.'" (Milian: H. 9-11; see also Milian: H. 29-30, 34.)
Detective Milian testified that he included Quinones' brother in the photo array shown to Deans on January 3, 1993. (Milian: H.14, 23-24.) Defense counsel did not follow up on this line of inquiry. (See Milian: H. 24-34.) The judge later remarked that the pictures of the two brothers "look very much alike." (H. 54.)
Detective Milian testified that the brother's name was Jorge Vasquez. (Milian: H. 23-24.) Until recently, the parties assumed that the brother in the photo array was Dennis Quinones. (E.g., Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Answer ¶ 29.) However, in his most recent submission to this Court, Quinones asserted that the brother in the photo array was "David Quinones," apparently another "one of Petitioner's brothers." (Dkt. No. 22: Quinones Traverse Br. at 12.) The State agrees that the lineup photo was not of Dennis. (Dkt. No. 25: A.D.A. Axelrod Aff. ¶¶ 3-4.)
On March 1, 1993, the police interviewed the victim's "wife," Marion Scarlett. (Milian: H. 11-12.) According to Detective Milian, Scarlett immediately identified Quinones in a photo array as "the guy that was involved in the [oral] fight with" her husband on the day he was killed. (Milian: H.13-14, 27, 34-35.) Quinones' "brother" was not included in the photo array shown to Scarlett. (Milian: H. 13-14, 23.)
Late on the night of August 20, 1993, Deans again identified Quinones from a photo array.*fn2 Deans again identified Quinones' picture. (Balzan: H. 42.) At 4:30 a.m. on August 21, 1993, nearly eight months after the shooting, Quinones was placed in a lineup for viewing by Deans. (Milian: H. 16-17; H. 47.) When Deans viewed the lineup, she "started to shake" and identified Quinones by exclaiming, in a "trembl[ing] voice: "`O[h], my God. He's there. He's there.'" (Milian: H.19-20, 30.)
Quinones was in the same number-three position in the photo arrays and the lineup. (Milian: H. 11, 14, 20.) Quinones' counsel suggested at the hearing that Quinones had been moved to that specific position in the lineup. (H. 26.)
On cross-examination, defense counsel attempted to elicit from Detective Milian that Quinones' appearance differed from the others in the lineup, in that Quinones' shirt had blood on it, his shirt was on backwards, and his shoes did not have laces. (Milian: H. 24-26.) Based on the photograph of the lineup, Detective Milian conceded that Quinones' shirt did have blood on it on the night of the lineup, but could not tell whether Quinones' shirt was on backwards or whether his shoes had laces. (Milian: H. 24-26.)
Quinones' counsel Morris moved to suppress the identifications, but he presented no witnesses and presented no argument at the conclusion of the hearing other than asserting that the detectives' testimony was "entirely self-serving." (See H. 43-46.)
At the conclusion of the hearing, the court found Detective Milian's and Detective Balzan's testimony "to be credible" (H. 47) and held that none of the four pretrial identifications was suggestive (H. 54, 58-59). Although the ages and hairstyles of the men in the photos differed, the court termed this a "distinction without significance." (H. 52-53.) All the men pictured "appear to be Hispanic," all had the same skin tone, and all but one had similarly shaped eyes and pencil-thin mustaches. (H. 52-53.) The court concluded that there was nothing in either photo array that would automatically draw the eye to one photograph as opposed to the others. (H. 54.) While the court was somewhat troubled that Deans was shown the same array on January 3, 1993 and again on August 20, 1993 just before she identified Quinones in the lineup, the court's concerns were alleviated by the intervening time period between the two photo arrays and Deans' pronounced reaction to the lineup. (H. 55-56, 58-59.)
As to the lineup, the court noted that all of the participants were seated so height was not a variable, and while one (not Quinones) wore a white shirt which could have stood out, the lineup participants' skin tones and hair length did not vary markedly. (H. 56-57.) While the defense had raised a question as to whether Quinones' shirt was blood-stained and whether his shoelaces were missing, the court saw no blood on Quinones' shirt in the lineup photograph, and was unable to tell if his shoes were laced up or not. (H. 57-58.) The court concluded: "I cannot say that the line-up by its composition was suggestive. Nor is there any evidence that the conduct of the lineup, itself, was suggestive." (H. 58.)
The Defense's Opening Statement at Trial
Defense counsel Alvin Morris told the jury in his opening that "the wrong man is being accused of this murder." (Trial Transcript ["Tr."] 395.) He also said that the victim was a drug dealer who was killed by other drug dealers who wanted his drug spot, and that the drug dealers chose to put the blame on Quinones. (Defense Opening: Tr. 395-96.) He asked the jury to use their "common sense" as they listened to the prosecution's evidence, and concluded by stressing the prosecution's burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. (Defense Opening: Tr. 396-97.)
The Prosecution Case at Trial
Carol Deans and Detective Milian
Carol Deans, a "friend" of Carter's for over twenty-five years, testified that on December 31, 1992, at approximately 7:15 p.m., she was walking east on 132nd Street near Fifth Avenue when she saw Carter "talking" with "somebody" — a "young man" "standing next to him." (Deans: Tr. 421-23, 427-28, 433-35, 449.) From inside his jacket, "the young man took out a gun and started firing" ten shots at Carter. (Deans: Tr. 422, 427-29, 441.) The shooter was "young," "very fair-skinned," and "tall" — "5'6", 5'7"." (Deans: Tr. 427, 435-36.) Deans described the shooter's hairstyle as "cut bald" or "shaved off" like that of an "average Black man." (Deans: Tr. 451-52.) He was wearing a black jacket and "could have been" wearing a black baseball cap. (Deans: Tr. 436-37.) Deans described the gun as a "9 millimeter" based on its "square shape." (Deans: Tr. 428.)
It was turning nightfall but not really dark, and there was good lighting, so Deans had no "problems" seeing the shooting. (Deans: Tr. 424-26.) She told the police that she saw the shooting from fifty feet away, although she was not "good" with distances. (Deans: Tr. 425, 437.) After the shots were fired, the shooter "stopped and he was uncertain which direction to turn." (Deans: Tr. 430.) When the shooter "turned," Deans "saw him" and then he "ran" "into the projects." (Deans: Tr. 429-30.) "Just as [Deans] walked up and got to the corner, it was over and done with, within seconds." (Deans: Tr. 453.) Deans was "[j]ust in shock" immediately after the shooting — it "[t]ook [her] time to get [herself] together in order to move." (Deans: Tr. 455, 461-62.) She spoke to the police later on the night of the shooting and again on January 3, 1993. (Deans: Tr. 430-31, 453-55; Milian: Tr. 525.)
At trial, Deans was unable to identify Quinones as the shooter:
Q. The person that you saw talking to Lamont Carter
eventually firing the weapon, do you see him in
A. I don't know.
Q. You don't know?
A. No. I just had sort of a profile.
Q. Are you saying you are unable to identify him
today in court?
(Deans: Tr. 429.)
Q. . . . When you came into this court today you
indicated you couldn't say that this is the person
that you saw on the 31st of December, 1992,
A. That is true.
(Deans Tr. 433.)*fn3 Prior to the shooting, Deans had never seen Quinones before. (Deans: Tr. 450-51.)
Deans testified, without objection, that at 4:30 a.m. on August 21, 1993, nearly eight months after the shooting, she viewed a police lineup of several "sitting" individuals and selected number three as the shooter. (Deans: Tr. 431; Milian: Tr. 528, 531-32.) In court, Deans viewed a photograph of the lineup and circled individual number three as the shooter, whom counsel stipulated was Quinones. (Deans: Tr. 431-32; Milian: Tr. 532-33.)
Detective Milian testified that upon viewing the August 21, 1993 lineup, Deans "immediately began to shake, and she said `Oh, my God. Oh, my God. It's him.'" (Milian: Tr. 528, 531-32.) After some hesitation, Deans said "`It's Number 3. He's the one that shot Lamont'" Carter. (Milian: Tr. 531-33.)*fn4
On cross-examination, Quinones' counsel, Morris, first had Deans repeat that she could not identify Quinones in court as the shooter. (Deans: Tr. 433, quoted at pages 7-8 above.) Morris then asked Deans if she was aware that Carter was a drug dealer, which Deans denied.
(Deans: Tr. 434.) Morris next established that Deans and Ed Smith were "lovers," but Deans denied Morris' assertion that Smith and Carter were partners in the drug trade. (Deans: Tr. 434-35, 450.) According to Deans, she, Carter and Smith "were all friends together." (Deans: Tr. 435, 449.) Deans also denied that Smith was present at the time Carter was shot. (Deans: Tr. 435, 449-50.)
While cross-examining Deans, Quinones' attorney Morris established that Deans' daughter (who was thirteen or fourteen years old at the time of the shooting) was standing with Deans when the shooting occurred. (Deans: Tr. 441-45, 460.) Deans' daughter ran into the beauty parlor to inform Scarlett that Carter had been shot. (Deans: Tr. 445.) Morris asked Deans, but the Court precluded Deans from answering: "Did you in any way stop your daughter from coming here to this court and testifying as a witness in this case." (Deans: Tr. 445, 448.) The judge also quashed, on hearsay grounds, the question: "Are you aware of the fact that your daughter said that this is not the person who was there at the time?" (Deans: Tr. 446-48.) Outside the jury's presence, Morris explained his question by stating "[h]er daughter spoke to me." (Deans: Tr. 447.) Morris thus implied to the court that Deans' daughter had told him that Quinones was not the shooter. (See Tr. 446-47.) Detective Milian testified that although Deans' daughter was present at the shooting, the police did not speak to her, apparently because Deans said that the daughter "`didn't see what happened because she was behind me.'" (Milian: Tr. 540-41, 553.) On cross-examination, the court precluded Detective Milian from answering whether it was "a fact that the reason why you didn't interrogate [Deans'] daughter is because her daughter said a tall Black man did this shooting?" (Milian: Tr. 540.)
The victim's "girlfriend," Marion Scarlett, identified Quinones at trial as the man her husband was speaking to before the shooting. (Scarlett: Tr. 470, 474-75.) Scarlett worked in a beauty salon across the street from where the shooting took place. (Scarlett: Tr. 471, 480.) On the night of the shooting, Scarlett saw Carter leave a pizza parlor and stop to "talk" to a man, whom she identified in court as Quinones. (Scarlett: Tr. 471-75.) She described Quinones' appearance that night as "a young man, light-skinned Spanish. He had on a black-and-white leather jacket, black pants. . . ." (Scarlett: Tr. 474.) Although she described Quinones as "[t]aller than" her five feet, six inches, when Quinones stood up in court she said "[h]e seemed taller to me." (Scarlett: Tr. 490-91.)
As Quinones and Carter were talking, Scarlett approached Carter, "pull[ed] on his sleeve" and told him that she was ready to leave. (Scarlett: Tr. 475-76.) Quinones became "agitated" "[b]ecause [Carter] had turned his attention to [Scarlett] and he was answering back to" Scarlett. (Scarlett: Tr. 476-79.) Quinones "said like `Yo, I'm talking to you, man.'" (Scarlett: Tr. 477.) Scarlett did not pay attention to what Quinones and Carter had been "discussing." (Scarlett: Tr. 477.)
Scarlett returned to her beauty salon, and observed Carter and Quinones crossing the street together. (Scarlett: Tr. 479-82, 502-03.) Scarlett estimated that "five or ten" (or "ten or fifteen") minutes later she heard "lots" of gun shots, and a girl came running into the shop saying, "`Your man is down. Your man is down.'" (Scarlett: Tr. 482-83, 497-99, 503.) Since Scarlett did not actually see the shooting, she could not state whether Quinones was the shooter. (Scarlett: Tr. 481-83, 491, 498.) Scarlett ran across the street to where Carter was lying on the ground. (Scarlett: Tr. 484.) She spoke to the police about what she had seen. (Scarlett: Tr. 486.)
Quinones' counsel Morris brought out that Scarlett had never before seen the person who had the argument with Carter. (Scarlett: Tr. 488.) Scarlett testified on cross-examination that she only saw Carter and Quinones talking together, and did not "see anybody else there." (Scarlett: Tr. 494-95.) After her recollection was refreshed by reading Detective Milian's report, she remembered having told the police that, prior to the shooting, she saw Carter talking with "three other people" in addition to Quinones. (Scarlett: Tr. 495-97.)*fn5
On cross-examination, Scarlet acknowledged that Carter sold drugs and "suppose[d]" that Ed Smith (Deans' boyfriend) was his partner. (Scarlett: Tr. 493.) Scarlett claimed not to know Deans at the time of the shooting (Scarlett: Tr. 491-92), though Deans had testified that she had been friends with Carter for over twenty-five years, Scarlett was friends with Deans' boyfriend, Ed Smith, and Deans' daughter knew to find Scarlett in the salon (Scarlett: Tr. 492-94). Defense counsel Morris elicited from Police Officer Ramos that Carter was found with a beeper and 43 crack vials. (Ramos: Tr. 587-88; see also Milian: Tr. 544-45.) Defense counsel also established on cross-examination of the medical examiner that Carter used cocaine — he had "cocaine breakdown product in the blood and in the brain," indicating that "he had taken cocaine recently" before his death. (Hayes: Tr. 520-21.)
Upon defense counsel's argument at a charging conference, the court agreed to charge the jury that they could consider that Carter was a drug dealer, but only for the purpose of determining Deans' credibility, given that she testified that she did not know he was a drug dealer despite being friends with him for over twenty-five years. (Tr. 642-46; see also Tr. 561-65, 723-24.)
Additional Police Testimony
Detective Mary Dugan of the Crime Scene Unit testified that although the murder weapon was not found at the crime scene at 132nd Street and Fifth Avenue on December 31, 1992 (Dugan: Tr. 399, 401-02, 414, 416), the discharged shell casings came from a .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun (Dugan: Tr. 405-07, 413, 415). There were no fingerprints on the shell casings (Dugan: Tr. 408), although "it's very unusual to find a fingerprint on bullets [i.e, shells] that have been fired" (Dugan: Tr. 417). The parties later stipulated that another ballistics detective would have testified that the six shell casings found at the scene and the six bullets removed from Carter's body came from a .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol. (Tr. 633-35.)
Quinones' counsel Morris did not object to Police Officer John Ramos' testimony that an unidentified woman at the crime scene yelled, "`[t]he Puerto Rican did it.'" (Ramos: Tr. 575-76.) On cross-examination, however, Morris established that this reference to the "Puerto Rican" was not in Officer Ramos' notes, nor did anyone at the scene go over to Officer Ramos and state that she was a witness. (Ramos: Tr. 579-81.)
Before the arresting officers testified, Morris asked the court to instruct them not to say they were members of the "Career Criminal Apprehension Unit." (Tr. 592.) The court agreed, but also expressed surprise that there was no objection when Detective Milian earlier testified in passing (Milian: Tr. 527) about that unit. (Tr. 597-99.)
Detectives Sheridan and Kaplan testified that when plain clothes detectives approached Quinones to arrest him in August 1993, Quinones "pushed" the "small child" he was walking with, ran onto First Avenue, and resisted arrest. (Sheridan: Tr. 601-02, 613-14; Kaplan: Tr. 619-21, 629-30.) Defense counsel elicited that the detectives were all in plain clothes and did not produce badges before approaching and grabbing Quinones (Sheridan: Tr. 604-05), presumably explaining Quinones' flight and resistance. The judge later established that the plain clothes detectives had not identified themselves as such until they were actually subduing Quinones. (Kaplan: Tr. 622, 629.) Detectives Sheridan and Kaplan repeatedly denied that any of the arresting officers had struck Quinones, testifying that they "used necessary force to bring him to the ground." (Sheridan: Tr. 606-07, 610-11; Kaplan: Tr. 623-24, 626.)
Defense Motion to Dismiss
After the State rested, Quinones' counsel Morris moved to dismiss, arguing that no witness had identified Quinones in court as the shooter. (Tr. 636.) Defense counsel noted that "a careful perusal of the testimony of the lady who allegedly participated in the lineup testified that she identified a profile of a person seated in Seat Number 3. She said she did not identify the defendant as he sits in court as being in that particular seat." (Tr. 637.) The court denied the motion. (Tr. 638-39; see also Tr. 640-42.) The defense rested without calling any witnesses. (Tr. 639.)
Colloquy Re Possible Defense Witnesses
The defense called no witnesses at trial. (See Tr. 639.) Just days before trial was to begin, defense counsel had informed the court that he had "witnesses who allegedly were there at the time of the incident." (Tr. 3.) However, counsel hadn't "seen them yet because [he is] a very busy practitioner," but expected to see them before the trial began. (Tr. 3-4.) At the beginning of voir dire, on June 6, 1995, Quinones' counsel Morris notified the court that he had two possible witnesses: Aaron Bishop and Damon White. (Tr. 9, 22-23.) During voir dire, on June 7, 1995, at defense counsel's request, the trial judge issued subpoenas on behalf of the defense to "Damond White" and "Aaron Bishop, Jr." who defense counsel described as two witnesses that he might call, "maybe." (Tr. 267-68; Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. B: Quinones 3/29/00 1st Dep't Reply Br. Supp. Rec. at 6, 7.)
Carol Deans' daughter — who allegedly told Quinones' counsel Morris that Quinones was not the shooter (see pages 9-10 above) — was not called to testify by either party. As the State neared the end of its case, the court questioned the defense about its witness list: "My question to you is whether there is a Defense case . . .," to which defense counsel Morris replied, "Your Honor, I'm going to flip a coin now. I have been looking for a witness or two witnesses for a while now, and unless a miracle happens this evening — my office tells me somebody has called, et cetera, et cetera — I do not have any witnesses." (Tr. 559-60). The next day, the court asked "Mr. Morris, just as a timing mechanism, did any miracles occur last evening?" (Tr. 595.) Morris responded: "No. Unfortunately, I guess I'm a bad guy." (Tr. 595-96.)
In his summation, defense counsel Morris emphasized that Deans was unable to identify Quinones as the shooter in court (although counsel also mischaracterized the testimony by asserting that Deans said "`That is not the man'"). (Defense Summation: Tr. 653-55.) Morris highlighted Deans' testimony that she had only seen a "profile." (Defense Summation: Tr. 655.) Morris, however, seemed to confuse that testimony, asserting that Deans had testified that she only saw a profile at the lineup rather than at the shooting. (Id.)
Morris attacked Deans' credibility, noting that Deans had denied that Carter or her boyfriend Smith were drug dealers or that she knew Scarlett, when the evidence was to the contrary. (Defense Summation: Tr. 656-57.) Morris pointed out that Scarlett admitted that Carter and Smith were drug dealers. (Defense Summation: Tr. 656-57.) Morris noted certain other inconsistencies in the eyewitness' description of the shooter (and the shooter's gun), such as Deans' testimony that the shooter was "tall," whereas Quinones was not much taller than Deans' five foot six inches. (Defense Summation: Tr. 657-59, 664.) Morris also pointed out that Scarlett had described the shooter's hair as that of a "Black man," while Quinones was a "light-skinned Hispanic." (Defense Summation: Tr. 659.) Morris asserted that perhaps twenty minutes elapsed between the time Scarlett left Carter and the shooting — more than enough time for Quinones to leave and another person to commit the shooting. (Defense Summation: Tr. 667-68.)
Morris questioned why Deans had not contacted the police sooner, implying that her story was fabricated. (Defense Summation: Tr. 660-62.) Importantly, Morris asserted that Deans' daughter was "the person who really knew who the shooter was," but that the State had failed to call her. (Defense Summation: Tr. 662-64.)
Finally, Morris reminded the jury that Carter was a drug dealer, and died holding 43 vials of crack. (Defense Summation: Tr. 668-69.) "When a partner becomes deceased, generally the other partner takes all the business. . . ." (Defense Summation: Tr. 669.) Morris thus implied that Quinones was framed, as the victim's partner was Ed Smith, and the only alleged eyewitness to the shooting was Smith's "paramour." (Id.)
In its summation, the State ridiculed defense counsel Morris' failure to support his opening statement claim that Quinones was being framed by the drug dealers who actually killed Carter. (State Summation: Tr. 672-74.) The prosecutor theorized that when drug dealers kill their competitors, they just do it, without getting the police involved by trying to frame someone else. (State Summation: Tr. 673.)
The State asserted that if Deans' daughter had exculpatory testimony, the defense would have called her. (State Summation: Tr. 679.) The State further claimed that Deans had not approached the police earlier because of fear, and that Deans failed to mention her daughter to the police in order to protect her daughter. (State Summation: Tr. 676-79.)
Defense counsel's only objection (overruled by the court) was to the prosecutor's statement that Deans had not identified Quinones in the courtroom because "just like at the lineup, she froze." (State Summation: Tr. 682.) The prosecutor elaborated on this theory, asserting that Deans had suppressed her recollection due to "trauma." (State Summation: Tr. 683.) The prosecutor's trauma theory, however, had no basis in the record and seemed to contradict Deans' own testimony that she did not recognize the shooter in court because she "just had sort of a profile" (Deans: Tr. 429). (State Summation: Tr. 682-85.)
The prosecutor asserted that the jury should disregard Scarlet's time estimate that she saw Quinones and Carter talking five to fifteen minutes before the shooting, since her perception of time was probably distorted: "When things are not going so great, or something traumatic or terrible happens, it seems like time goes on forever. Two minutes can seem like fifteen minutes." (State Summation: Tr. 680, 690.)
Although the police did not identify themselves when they approached Quinones to arrest him, the prosecutor speculated that Quinones must have known they were the police: "I submit to you when this defendant saw those people approaching, he made them for police officers. You know, it's not too difficult to make plain clothes cops for who they are." (State Summation: Tr. 692.) He then asserted "[i]f [Quinones] wasn't the killer, if some other person out there did it, what's he running for?" (Tr. 693.)
The court's jury charge echoed both counsels' mischaracterization of Scarlett's testimony by saying that Carter and Quinones were having a dispute: "within minutes of his being shot, the defendant was having some kind of a dispute or agitated discussion with the deceased, Lamont Carter." (Charge: Tr. 742; see Defense Summation: Tr. 658, 666-67, & State Summation: Tr. 686-87, 689, referring to a verbal "argument" between Carter and the shooter.) In discussing Deans' failure to identify Quinones in the courtroom, the court commented that Deans' memory was perhaps "fresher" at the lineup than at trial, since it was "shortly after" the crime. (Charge: Tr. 744-45.)*fn6
Defense counsel raised only one exception to the jury charge — asking the judge to clarify that Deans had not made an in-court identification (Charge: Tr. 751-52), which the court did (Charge: Tr. 752-53).
The jury began deliberations at about 12:30 p.m. on June 14, 1995. (Tr. 754.) The jury asked for and received a read-back of Deans' testimony and a further explanation of "reasonable doubt." (Tr. 759-67.) At 5:40 p.m. that day, the jury sent out a note stating that they were "at an impasse." (Tr. 771.) The court responded with an Allen charge and sent the jury to dinner. (Tr. 771-72, 774-76.) The jury resumed deliberations at 7:30 p.m., and at 8:10 p.m. sent out a note reading: "`We, the jury, are hung and we feel strongly that further deliberations will not change the convictions of the divided jury.'" (Tr. 777-78.) The Court responded with a second "somewhat stronger" Allen charge, without objection. (Tr. 779-86.) The jury resumed deliberations on June 15, 1995 at approximately 10 a.m. (Tr. 813), and reached a verdict at 11:45 a.m. (Tr. 814-15).
Verdict and Sentence
On June 15, 1995, the jury found Quinones guilty of second degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degrees. (Verdict: Tr. 816-20.)
On July 10, 1995, the court sentenced Quinones, as a predicate felon, to concurrent terms of twenty years to life, 7-1/2 to 15 years, and 3-1/2 to 7 years, respectively. (Sentence: Tr. 5-8.)
Represented by different, assigned counsel, Quinones appealed to the First Department*fn7 on the grounds, inter alia, that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by:
(1) failing to offer a coherent theory of the case (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 39-45); (2) failing to object to the admission of multiple items of evidence — especially hearsay and Deans' pretrial identification (id. at 45-46); (3) asserting various ineffective arguments (id. at 46-47); (4) making no attempt to obtain possibly favorable evidence from Deans' daughter (id. at 48); (5) failing to object to several improper statements and arguments in the prosecutor's summation (id. at 48-51); and (6) failing to object to improper jury instructions, particularly where testimony was mischaracterized (id. at 51-52). Further, Quinones alleged that trial counsel's aggregated errors constituted ineffective assistance in violation of the Sixth Amendment even if the individual errors did not. (Id. at 53-58.)
On May 23, 2000, the First Department affirmed Quinones' conviction, denying his ineffective counsel claims:
On the existing record, we conclude that defendant received meaningful representation. Counsel's alleged deficiencies did not deprive defendant of a fair trial. People v. Quinones, 272 A.D.2d 228, 229, 708 N.Y.S.2d 616, 616 (1st Dep't 2000) (citations omitted).*fn8 The New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal on August 14, 2000, People v. Quinones, 95 N.Y.2d 870, 715 N.Y.S.2d 224 (2000), and denied Quinones' pro se motion for reconsideration on December 26, 2000, People v. Quinones, 95 N.Y.2d 968, 722 N.Y.S.2d 485 (2000).
Quinones' Habeas Petition and Amendment
Quinones' timely pro se habeas corpus petition, dated October 15, 2001 and received by the Court's pro se office on October 26, 2001, asserted the same ineffective assistance of counsel claims that Quinones had raised before the First Department. (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. at 3, referencing Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br.)
Quinones wrote to this Court on May 10, 2002, stating that he had retained counsel, Anthony Ricco, Esq., to file a C.P.L. § 440.10 motion in state court (on unstated grounds), and that if such motion did not "prevail," he would move to amend his habeas petition. (Dkt. No. 8: Quinones 5/10/02 Letter.) The Court directed Quinones to amend his habeas petition and promptly file the C.P.L. § 440 motion. (Dkt. No. 8:5/14/02 Memo Endorsed Order.) By letter to the Court dated May 23, 2002, Quinones' new counsel, Ricco, asserted that Quinones' trial counsel, Alvin Morris, had a conflict of interest because he simultaneously represented Quinones' deceased brother, Dennis Quinones, who was the actual murderer. (Dkt. No. 9: Ricco 5/23/02 Letter.) This was the first notice given by Quinones or his counsel to any court, state or federal, of such an alleged conflict. (See id. at 2: "Although the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel was raised below in the state court proceedings the specific claim of `conflicted counsel' was never previously litigated.") Ricco noted that Quinones had retained a retired New York City detective as an investigator, and that the investigation would be completed "expeditiously so that an application for relief . . . can be made on the basis of reliable investigatory work and not simply toothless allegations." (Id.)
On May 29, 2002, Quinones moved, pro se, to amend his petition (Dkt. Nos. 10-11: Quinones Motion to Amend), and by order dated June 7, 2002 (Dkt. No. 11:6/7/02 Memo Endorsed Order), this Court granted Quinones' motion, thereby adding two additional ineffective counsel claims:
(1) Whether petitioner was deprived of his
Constitutional right to "conflict free" representation
where attorney, Alvin C. Morris, Esq., simultaneously
represented petitioner and his brother, Dennis
Quinones, on unrelated charges, knowing full well that
the .380 caliber handgun Dennis Quinones was indicted
for in Bronx County may have been the same weapon used
to murder Lamont Carter.
(2) Whether petitioner was deprived of his
Constitutional right to "conflict free" representation
where attorney, Alvin C. Morris, Esq., failed to call
an eyewitness who would have exculpated petitioner,
but would have identified Dennis Quinones,
petitioner's brother, as the actual shooter.
(Dkt. No. 11: Quinones 5/29/02 Aff. ¶ 1.) This Court also ordered Quinones to exhaust these claims in state court by way of a C.P.L. § 440 motion. (Dkt. No. 11:6/7/02 Memo Endorsed Order.)
Quinones' C.P.L. § 440 Motion
On June 26, 2002, Quinones filed a pro se C.P.L. § 440.10 petition in state court, asserting that because of a conflict of interest, his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. (Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Appendix: Quinones 6/26/02 C.P.L. § 440 Aff. & Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br.) Quinones alleged that because his trial counsel, Alvin Morris, formerly represented his brother, Dennis Quinones, Morris refrained from asserting at trial that Dennis committed the Carter shooting, even though certain evidence suggested that Dennis — rather than Edgar Quinones — may have been the shooter.*fn9 (Quinones 6/26/02 C.P.L. § 440 Aff. ¶¶ 18, 22-23; Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 5-10.) Quinones' C.P.L. § 440 motion requested the state court to order a ballistics comparison of the .380 caliber gun found in Dennis' possession and the .380 shell casings from Carter's murder. (Quinones 6/26/02 § 440 Br. at 6, 16-17.)
The parties agreed on the key facts. On February 14, 1993, six weeks after Carter's murder, "Jose Medina — AKA Dennis Quinones" was arrested in the Bronx for criminal possession of a .380 caliber handgun. (State Am. Appendix: Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Motion Ex. I: 2/14/93 Criminal Complaint; see also Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Exs. K & L.)*fn10 On February 19, 1993, Morris filed a notice of appearance as Dennis' attorney of record on that arrest. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Ex. K: 2/19/93 Notice of Appearance; Dkt. No. 13: A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶ 17.) On March 16, 1993, when Dennis failed to appear in court on the gun possession charge, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. (A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶ 16.)
Several months later, on August 20, 1993, petitioner Edgar Quinones was arrested for Carter's murder. (Milian: H.16.) On January 3, 1994, Morris filed a notice of appearance on Quinones' behalf in the criminal case underlying this habeas petition. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Ex. K at 2.) Quinones' trial for the Carter killing began June 1, 1995, and he was sentenced on July 10, 1995. (See pages 3, 18 above.) The police did not finally track down Dennis (who had been missing since March 1993) until September 5, 1996, over one year after Quinones' sentencing. (A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶ 16; Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 6 n. 18; see Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Ex. L: 12/5/96 Superseding Indictment of Dennis.)*fn11
Quinones asserted on "information and belief" that attorney Morris was dead by the time Dennis reappeared in September 1996. (Dkt. No. 13: Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 3 n. 2; see also Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 15; Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 39 n. 32 ("Present and previously-appointed appellate counsel have been unable to locate the attorney, Alvin Morris, and it appears that he died within about a year of the trial.").)*fn12 It is clear that Morris did not represent Dennis in 1996. (See A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶¶ 17-18 & Exs. A & B.) The parties agree that Dennis subsequently died; the record is silent as to the date of his death except that he died at some time before Quinones first raised the conflict claim in May 2002. (Dkt. No. 9: Quinones' Counsel Ricco 5/23/02 Letter at 1; A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶¶ 14, 21, 24.)
Quinones argued in his § 440 motion that at the time of trial, Morris must have known that Dennis was the "true killer." (Quinones 6/26/02 C.P.L. § 440 Aff. ¶ 23; Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 5.) Morris certainly knew — based on the complaint in Dennis' case and the police report in the Carter shooting — that the .380 caliber handgun for which Dennis was arrested in 1993 was the same caliber weapon used in the Carter murder. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 5-6, 9 & Ex. I: 2/14/93 Criminal Complaint & Ex. J: 12/31/92 Police Report.) Morris also knew that the prosecution's case against Quinones relied solely on the eyewitness testimony of individuals who did not know Quinones (see pages 7-8, 10-11 above), and that, in the words of the trial judge, the two brothers "look very much alike" (H. 54). (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 10-11.) Further, Morris knew that three months after the Carter shooting Dennis was arrested on the gun charge and then disappeared, and that Dennis previously had been convicted of attempted murder. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 9; Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Ex. M.)
According to Quinones, Morris thus was absolutely conflicted, as Quinones' best defense was to shift the blame onto Morris' former client, Dennis. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 7-10.) According to Quinones, "An attorney not faced with divided loyalties would have pursued a defense demonstrating that [Dennis] Quinones was the actual shooter." (Id. at 10.) According to Quinones, at minimum, an unconflicted attorney would have determined whether a ballistics test had been performed on the gun in Dennis' possession, and if not, would have requested such a test. (Id. at 11.) Further, according to Quinones, an unconflicted attorney would have insisted that Dennis' mug shot be displayed to the eyewitnesses at trial when identifying the shooter. (Id. at 11; Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 9 n. 6.)
Morris failed to alert Quinones' trial judge that he also was counsel to Dennis. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 7.) Morris' only reference to Quinones' family was: "Your Honor, I am retained on this case but I have known the family of my client for years, and I'm doing this particular matter with hardly any monies at all." (H. 36.)*fn13
Quinones also argued to the § 440 court that because of his divided loyalties, Morris failed to call a number of exculpatory witnesses at trial. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 10-15.) For example, according to Quinones, Malik Abdullah Akili, a friend of Carter's and an eyewitness to the crime, maintained that Quinones was not the shooter. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 12 & Ex. G: Akili 4/27/02 Aff.) Akili's description of the murderer's clothes was similar to that given by Deans and Scarlett (Quinones § 440 Br. at 12), but Akili said the Hispanic male was taller and wider than Quinones (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Ex. G: Akili Aff. at 1.) Akili signed an affidavit on April 23, 1997 swearing that Quinones was not the shooter and that he was never approached by Quinones' attorney to testify to that effect. (Akili Aff. at 1-2.) Akili's name was written on Quinones' trial counsel Morris' notes of potential witnesses. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Ex. H.)*fn14
In addition, Quinones argued that Morris should have called Deans' daughter, as she witnessed the shooting and allegedly told Morris that Quinones was not the shooter. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 13; Tr. 446-47.)
Finally, based on the above evidence, Quinones moved the § 440 court to order a ballistics test to determine whether Dennis' gun was the murder weapon. (Quinones 6/26/02 C.P.L. § 440 Aff. ¶¶ 24-26; Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 16-17; Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 8-11.)
The State's Opposition to Quinones' § 440 Motion and His Reply
In its opposition to the § 440 motion, the State raised several arguments. First, the State argued that although Morris represented Dennis when he was first arrested in February 1993, Morris did not represent Dennis when he reappeared in 1996. (A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶¶ 17-19.)*fn15 Thus, according to the State, Morris only represented Dennis for a short period in 1993 — months before Quinones was even arrested for the Carter shooting. (Id.) In reply, Quinones pointed out that "[e]ven though a representation has ended, a lawyer has continuing professional obligations to a former client, including the duty to maintain that client's confidences and secrets." (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 3.) Thus, according to Quinones, even if Morris no longer represented Dennis at the time of Quinones' trial, Morris had a continuing duty to Dennis that caused a conflict of interest. (Id.)
Second, the State argued that at Quinones' sentencing, when the trial judge asked him if he had anything to say, he replied with a simple "no." (A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶ 20.) According to the State, if Quinones knew that his counsel had failed to call exculpatory witnesses such as Akili and Deans' daughter, Quinones would have "shout[ed] from the rafters that his attorney had sold him out." (Id.; see also id. ¶ 24.) Nor were Quinones' conflicted counsel ineffective counsel claims raised on direct appeal. (Id. ¶ 21.) Quinones replied that prior to the trial he had complained to the judge about Morris' failure to investigate, to no avail. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 6 citing Ex. P: 4/24/95 Conf. Transcript.) More importantly, Quinones correctly asserted that ineffective counsel claims involving matters outside the record must be brought by way of a C.P.L. § 440 motion — not at sentencing or on direct appeal. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 6.)
Third, the State asserted that although Quinones had raised a host of generic ineffective counsel claims on direct appeal (see Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 39-58), he had intentionally delayed raising his conflict of interest claims until both Morris and Dennis were dead, so that the court would be unable to probe Morris for any "trial strategy" behind, for example, Morris' failure to call the various missing witnesses. (A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶¶ 21, 24.) According to the State, Quinones' appellate attorney could have filed a C.P.L. § 440 motion containing these allegations as a "supplement to his appeal." (Id. ¶ 24.)
Quinones replied that his appellate counsel made known as early as 1997 that they intended to file a C.P.L. § 440 motion alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 7 & Exs. C, D, & E.) Further, although a prior appointed appellate attorney had petitioned the court in 1997 for funds to hire an investigator to help prepare the appeal (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. Ex. D),*fn16 Quinones claimed that he only learned in 2002 from a private investigator that Morris had represented him and his brother simultaneously, and that Dennis' 1993 arrest involved a .380 handgun (Quinones 6/26/02 C.P.L. § 440 Aff. ¶¶ 17, 19, 22; Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 6 n. 20; Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 10; Dkt. No. 16: Quinones § 460 1st Dep't Br. at 14).
Finally, the State asserted that because Quinones fled the scene with the handgun, he could easily have given the gun to his brother Dennis prior to Dennis' arrest six weeks later. (A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶ 22.) Thus, even if a ballistics test proved that the handgun Dennis was caught with matched the handgun that shot Carter, such a finding would not be "dispositive" (id.), especially since Quinones' conviction was based on the testimony of two eyewitnesses (id. ¶ 23). In reply, Quinones argued that even if Dennis' possession of the murder weapon did not conclusively prove that Dennis, and not Quinones, committed the murder, an unconflicted attorney would have argued the point to the jury in an effort to raise a reasonable doubt regarding Quinones' guilt. (Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. at 10.)
The State Court Decisions Denying Quinones' C.P.L. § 440 Motion
On September 18, 2002, the trial court denied Quinones' C.P.L. § 440 motion, adopting virtually wholesale the State's arguments (as well as the State's misspelling of Morris' name as "Morrison"):
Although defendant had the opportunity to raise the
specific issues contained in the motion on direct
appeal, he unjustifiably failed to do so. Moreover,
with respect to the defendant's ineffective assistance
of counsel claim, the evidence submitted by the People
shows that after defendant's brother absconded and was
returned to court, he was represented by Victor Dailey
Rivera Esq. and not Alvin Morrison [sic] Esq., and
that during the sentencing hearing when asked by the
Court whether he had anything to say, rather than
alerting the court to a possible exculpatory witness
and to advise the court of trial counsel's failure to
call such a witness, defendant replied "No."
Lastly, the possibility that the handgun which the
defendant's brother was later arrested for illegally
possessing, and which defendant contends is the real
murder weapon — and his brother the real
murderer — is of no consequence since a witness
identified the defendant as the shooter, as the person
seen speaking with the decedent moments before the
murder, and as the person with whom one of the
identifying witnesses had a verbal exchange at the
crime scene before the murder.
This Court has reviewed the defendant's remaining
contentions and find[s] them to be without merit.
(Dkt. No. 17:9/18/02 State Court § 440 Decision, record citation omitted.)
On December 12, 2002, the First Department summarily denied leave to appeal, stating that "there is no question of law or fact presented which ought to be reviewed." (Dkt. No. 18: Quinones Mot. to Amend Pet., Ex. A: 1st Dep't 12/12/02 Order.)
Additional Proceedings in This Court
On January 15, 2003, this Court granted Quinones' request to amend his petition to include the following claim:
Defendant Was Deprived Of His Constitutional Right to
"Conflict Free" Representation When Attorney C.
Morris, Esq., Simultaneously Represented Defendant And
His Brother, Dennis Quinones, On Unrelated Charges,
Knowing Full Well That The .380 Caliber Handgun Dennis
Quinones Was Indicted For In Bronx County May Have
Been The Same Weapon Used In The Lamont Carter
(Dkt. No. 18:1/15/03 Memo Endorsed Order & Quinones 1/8/03 Aff. ¶ 1.) This claim is virtually identical to one of the claims added by way of the Court's June 7, 2002 Order. (See pages 20-21 above.)
In its response to Quinones' amended petition, the State repeated its earlier arguments, but assumed for habeas purposes that Dennis' gun was the murder weapon:
Although no ballistics comparison was ever made, the
People took the position in state court that it made
no difference whether [Dennis'] gun was the murder
weapon. Thus, this response assumes that a ballistics
test would have revealed the gun to have been the one
that petitioner used when he shot Carter.
(Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Answer ¶ 23 n. 1.)
In his most recent submission to this Court, Quinones claimed for the first time that the photo array depicted not Dennis, but rather "David Quinones," another "one of Petitioner's brothers." (Dkt. No. 22: Quinones Traverse Br. at 12.)
On May 20, 2003, this Court issued the following order:
The State is to inform the Court . . . whether
ballistics testing still can be done on Dennis' .380
and the Carter-murder shells, and if so, should
complete the tests and inform the Court of the
results. . . .
The State is also to provide the Court . . . with
the photo array pictures of Quinones and his "brother"
and any other evidence as to whether that brother
whose picture was in the photo array was "Dennis" or
(Dkt. No. 23:5/20/03 Order; see also Dkt. No. 24:5/23/03 Order.)
The State responded by affidavit that "the bullets and shell casings recovered in connection with Lamont Carter's murder had been fired from the gun that Dennis Quinones possessed."
(Dkt. No. 25: A.D.A. Axelrod 5/28/03 Aff. ¶ 2.) Further, the State averred that the photo array in question depicted neither Dennis nor David Quinones:
[A]t a pre-trial hearing, the detective who compiled
the initial [photo] array testified that he had been
informed by another detective that Jorge Vasquez,
whose picture was #4 in the array, was petitioner's
brother. The detective also testified that petitioner
had never confirmed that fact (Hearing Transcript at
I am informed by Assistant District Attorney Harvey
Rosen, who investigated and prosecuted the case, that
this belief that Vasquez was related to petitioner was
incorrect and that no family member's photograph
appeared in that array. Additionally, I obtained
Vasquez's arrest record and compared it with the
record for Dennis Quinones. These records . . . reveal
that the two men are not the same.
Lastly, while petitioner has claimed that it was not
Dennis Quinones' but David Quinones' photograph that
appeared in the array, Vasquez's record reveals that
he has never used the name Quinones.
(A.D.A. Axelrod 5/28/03 Aff. ¶¶ 3-5.)
I. THE AEDPA REVIEW STANDARD*fn17
Before the Court can determine whether Quinones is entitled to federal habeas relief, the Court must address the proper habeas corpus review standard under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA").
In enacting the AEDPA, Congress significantly "modifie[d] the role of federal habeas courts in reviewing petitions filed by state prisoners." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 403, 120 So. Ct. 1495, 1518 (2000). The AEDPA imposed a more stringent review standard, as follows:
(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; or
(2) . . . was based on an unreasonable determination
of the facts in light of the evidence presented in
the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2); see also, e.g., Eze v. Senkowski, 321 F.3d 110
, 120 (2d Cir. 2003) ("AEDPA changed the landscape of federal habeas corpus review by `significantly curtail[ing] the power of federal courts to grant the habeas petitions of state prisoners.'") (quoting Lainfiesta v. Artuz, 253 F.3d 151
, 155 (2d Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 535 U.S. 1019, 122 S.Ct. 1611 (2002)).
The "contrary to" and "unreasonable application" clauses of § 2254(d)(1) have "independent meaning." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. at 404-05, 120 S.Ct. at 1519.*fn18 Both, however, "restrict the source of clearly established law to [the Supreme] Court's jurisprudence." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. at 412, 120 S.Ct. at 1523.*fn19 "That federal law, as defined by the Supreme Court, may either be a generalized standard enunciated in the [Supreme] Court's case law or a bright-line rule designed to effectuate such a standard in a particular context." Kennaugh v. Miller, 289 F.3d at 42. "A petitioner cannot win habeas relief solely by demonstrating that the state court unreasonably applied Second Circuit precedent." Yung v. Walker, 296 F.3d at 135; accord, e.g., DelValle v. Armstrong, 306 F.3d at 1200.
As to the "contrary to" clause:
A state-court decision will certainly be contrary to
[Supreme Court] clearly established precedent if the
state court applies a rule that contradicts the
governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases.
. . . A state-court decision will also be contrary
to [the Supreme] Court's clearly established
precedent if the state court confronts a set of
facts that are materially indistinguishable from a
decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless
arrives at a result different from [Supreme Court]
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. at 405-06, 120 S.Ct. at 1519-20.*fn20
In Williams, the Supreme Court explained that "[u]nder the `unreasonable application' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. at 413, 120 S.Ct. at 1523. However, "[t]he term `unreasonable' is . . . difficult to define." Id. at 410, 120 S.Ct. at 1522. The Supreme Court made clear that "an unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law." Id.*fn21 Rather, the issue is "whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was objectively unreasonable." Williams v. Taylor, 539 U.S. at 409, 120 S.Ct. at 1521.*fn22 The Second Circuit has explained "that while `[s]ome increment of incorrectness beyond error is required . . . the increment need not be great; otherwise, habeas relief would be limited to state court decisions so far off the mark as to suggest judicial incompetence.'" Jones v. Stinson, 229 F.3d at 119 (quoting Francis S. v. Stone, 221 F.3d 100, 111 (2d Cir. 2000)).*fn23 Moreover, the Second Circuit has held "that a state court determination is reviewable under AEDPA if the state decision unreasonably failed to extend a clearly established, Supreme Court defined, legal principle to situations which that principle should have, in reason, governed." Kennaugh v. Miller, 289 F.3d at 45; accord Yung v. Walker, 296 F.3d at 135. Under the AEDPA, in short, the federal courts "must give the state court's adjudication a high degree of deference." Yung v. Walker, 296 F.3d at 134.
Even where the state court decision does not specifically refer to either the federal claim or to relevant federal case law, the deferential AEDPA review standard applies:
For the purposes of AEDPA deference, a state court
"adjudicate[s]" a state prisoner's federal claim on
the merits when it (1) disposes of the claim "on the
merits," and (2) reduces its disposition to judgment.
When a state court does so, a federal habeas court
must defer in the manner prescribed by
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) to the state court's
decision on the federal claim — even if the
state court does not explicitly refer to either the
federal claim or to relevant federal case law.
Sellan v. Kuhlman, 261 F.3d at 312; accord, e.g., Cotto v. Herbert, No. 01-2694, 2003 WL 1989700 at *6 (2d Cir. May 1, 2003); Eze v. Senkowski, 321 F.3d at 121; Ryan v. Miller, 303 F.3d at 245; Aeid v. Bennett, 296 F.3d 58
, 62 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 123 S.Ct. 694 (2002); Jenkins v. Artuz, 294 F.3d 284
, 291 (2d Cir. 2002) ("In Sellan, we found that an even more concise Appellate Division disposition — the word `denied' — triggered AEDPA deference."); Norde v. Keane, 294 F.3d 401
, 410 (2d Cir. 2002); Aparicio v. Artuz, 269 F.3d 78
, 93 (2d Cir. 2001).*fn24
"By its terms, § 2254(d) requires such deference only with respect to a state-court `adjudication on the merits,' not to a disposition `on a procedural, or other, ground.' Where it is `impossible to discern the Appellate Division's conclusion on [the relevant] issue,' a federal court should not give AEDPA deference to the state appellate court's ruling." Miranda v. Bennett, 322 F.3d 171
, 177-78 (2d Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).*fn25
Of course, "if there is no [state court] adjudication on the merits, then t he pre-AEDPA de novo standard of review applies." Cotto v. Herbert, 2003 WL 1989700 at *7.
II. THE STRICKLAND V. WASHINGTON STANDARD ON INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF
In Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668
, 104 S.Ct. 2052 (1984), the Supreme Court announced a two-part test to determine if counsel's assistance was ineffective: "First, the defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the `counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment." Id. at 687, 104 S.Ct. at 2064. This performance is to be judged by an objective standard of reasonableness. Id. at 688, 104 S.Ct. at 2064; accord, e.g., Bell v. Cone, 122 S.Ct. 1843
, 1850 (2002).
Judicial scrutiny of counsel's performance must be
highly deferential. It is all too tempting for a
defendant to second-guess counsel's assistance after
conviction. . . . A fair assessment of attorney
performance requires that every effort be made to
eliminate the distorting effects of hindsight, to
reconstruct the circumstances of counsel's challenged
conduct, and to evaluate the conduct from counsel's
perspective at the time. . . . [A] court must indulge
a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls
within the wide range of reasonable professional
assistance; that is, the defendant must overcome the
presumption that, under the circumstances, the
challenged action "might be considered sound trial
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 689, 104 S.Ct. at 2065 (citation omitted).*fn27
Second, the defendant must show prejudice from counsel's performance. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 687, 104 S.Ct. at 2064. The "question is whether there is a reasonable probability that, absent the errors, the fact finder would have had a reasonable doubt respecting guilt." Id. at 695, 104 S.Ct. at 2068-69. Put another way, the "defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Id. at 694, 104 S.Ct. at 2068.*fn28
"[A] reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 694, 104 S.Ct. at 2068. The phrase "reasonable probability," despite its language, should not be confused with "probable" or (continued. . .)
The Supreme Court has counseled that these principles "do not establish mechanical rules." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 696, 104 S.Ct. at 2069. The focus of the inquiry should be on the fundamental fairness of the trial and whether, despite the strong presumption of reliability, the result is unreliable because of a breakdown of the adversarial process. Id.
Any counsel errors must be considered in the "aggregate" rather than in isolation, as the Supreme Court has directed courts "to look at the `totality of the evidence before the judge or jury.'" Lindstadt v. Keane, 239 F.3d 191, 199 (2d Cir. 2001) (quoting Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 695-96, 104 S.Ct. at 2069); accord, e.g., Rodriguez v. Hoke, 928 F.2d 534, 538 (2d Cir. 1991).
The Supreme Court also made clear that "there is no reason for a court deciding an ineffective assistance claim . . . to address both components of the inquiry if the defendant makes an insufficient showing on one." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 697, 104 S.Ct. at 2069.*fn29
In addition, the Supreme Court has counseled that "strategic choices made after thorough investigation of law and facts relevant to plausible options are virtually unchallengeable; and strategic choices made after less than complete investigation are reasonable precisely to the extent that reasonable professional judgments support the limitations on investigation. . . . In any ineffectiveness case, a particular decision not to investigate must be directly assessed for reasonableness in all the circumstances, applying a heavy measure of deference to counsel's judgments." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 690-91, 104 S.Ct. at 2066.*fn30
As the Second Circuit noted: "The Strickland standard is rigorous, and the great majority of habeas petitions that allege constitutionally ineffective counsel founder on that standard." Lindstadt v. Keane, 239 F.3d at 199.
For purposes of this Court's AEDPA analysis, "the Strickland standard . . . is the relevant `clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.'" Aparicio v. Artuz, 269 F.3d at 95 & n. 8 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)).*fn31 "For AEDPA purposes, a petitioner is not required to further demonstrate that his particular theory of ineffective assistance of counsel is also `clearly established.'" Aparicio v. Artuz, 269 F.3d at 95 n. 8. "For [petitioner] to succeed, however, he must do more than show that he would have satisfied Strickland's test if his claim were being analyzed in the first instance, because under § 2254(d)(1), it is not enough to convince a federal habeas court that, in its independent judgment, the state-court decision applied Strickland incorrectly. . . . Rather, he must show that the [First Department] applied Strickland to the facts of his case in an objectively unreasonable manner." Bell v. Cone, 122 S.Ct. at 1852.
III. QUINONES' CONFLICT OF INTEREST CLAIM IS NOT PROCEDURALLY BARRED OR
BARRED BY LACHES
A. State Procedural Bar
It is unclear whether the C.P.L. § 440 court held that Quinones' conflict of interest claims were procedurally barred, or merely that they were not credible, on two bases. First, the § 440 court noted that "during the sentencing hearing when asked by the Court whether he had anything to say, rather than alerting the court to a possible exculpatory witness and to advise the court of trial counsel's failure to call such a witness, defendant replied `No.'" (Dkt. No. 17:9/19/02 State Court § 440 Decision at 2.) Second, the § 440 court held that "[a]lthough defendant had the opportunity to raise the [conflict of interest claims] on direct appeal, he unjustifiably failed to do so." (Id.)
The State has effectively waived any procedural bar by failing to argue in its opposition to Quinones' habeas petition (see Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Answer) that the § 440 decision rested on an adequate and independent state ground. See, e.g., Collins v. Travis, 00 Civ. 3746, 2000 WL 1476664 at *10 n. 13 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 5, 2000) (Peck, M.J.) ("The government's brief did not argue that the First Department's decision rested on an independent and adequate state ground, and this Court declines to raise the issue sua sponte."). Even were this Court inclined to consider the matter sua sponte, however, the two grounds asserted by the § 440 court are not adequate procedural bars.
The "adequate and independent state ground doctrine applies on federal habeas," such that "an adequate and independent finding of procedural default will bar federal habeas review of the federal claim, unless the habeas petitioner can show `cause' for the default and `prejudice attributable thereto,' or demonstrate that failure to consider the federal claim will result in a `fundamental miscarriage of justice.'" Harris v. Reed, 489 U.S. 255, 262, 109 S.Ct. 1038, 1043 (1989) (citations omitted); see also, e.g., Roberts v. Batista, 01 Civ. 5264, 2003 WL 1900866 at *7-8 & n. 8 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 16, 2003) (Peck, M.J.) (& cases cited therein). A state court's finding of procedural default constitutes an "adequate" ground only "if there is a `fair and substantial' basis in state law for the state court's determination." Garcia v. Lewis, 188 F.3d 71, 78 (2d Cir. 1999). The procedural rule must be "`strictly or regularly followed.'" Wedra v. Lefevre, 988 F.2d 334, 339 (2d Cir. 1993) (quoting Johnson v. Mississippi, 486 U.S. 578, 587, 108 S.Ct. 1981, 1987 (1988)). "[O]nly a `firmly established and regularly followed state practice' may be interposed by a State to prevent subsequent review" in federal court "of a federal constitutional claim." Ford v. Georgia, 498 U.S. 411, 423-24, 111 S.Ct. 850, 857 (1991) (quoting James v. Kentucky, 466 U.S. 341, 348-51, 104 S.Ct. 1830, 1835-37 (1984)); see Hathorn v. Lovorn, 457 U.S. 255, 263, 102 S.Ct. 2421, 2426 (1982) ("State courts may not avoid deciding federal issues by invoking procedural rules that they do not apply evenhandedly to all similar claims.").
The two possibly procedural grounds proffered by the § 440 court fail to satisfy the adequacy standard. First, a litigant does not waive an actual conflict of interest claim (of which he was unaware) by failing himself to raise the issue at trial, pro se, as such a rule would effectively require represented defendants to act as their own trial counsel. Although C.P.L. § 440.10(3)(a) provides that a court "may deny" a § 440 motion where "facts in support of the ground or issue raised upon the motion could with due diligence by the defendant have readily been made to appear on the record in a manner providing adequate basis for review of such ground or issue upon an appeal from the judgment, the defendant unjustifiably failed to adduce such matter prior to sentence and the ground or issue in question was not subsequently determined upon appeal," this provision expressly "does not apply to a motion based upon deprivation of the right to counsel at the trial or upon failure of the trial court to advise the defendant of such right." C.P.L. § 440.10(3)(a); see Bolling v. Stinson, No. 97-CV-6721, 1999 WL 287733 at *3 (E.D.N.Y. May 5, 1999) (State court held petitioner's ineffective counsel claim procedurally barred under C.P.L. § 440.10(3) because petitioner failed to raise the claim at trial. Habeas court held the procedural bar was not an adequate and independent state ground because, inter alia, (1) "[d]uring trial . . . petitioner clearly could not object to his trial counsel's assistance," and (2) C.P.L. § 440.10(3)(a) "does not apply to a motion based upon deprivation of the right to counsel at the trial."). Moreover, the Supreme Court has held that "[i]n order to establish a violation of the Sixth Amendment, a defendant who raised no objection at trial must demonstrate that an actual conflict of interest adversely affected his lawyer's performance." Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 348-49, 100 S.Ct. 1708, 1718 (1980),*fn32 implying that conflicts need not be raised at trial.*fn33 Quinones thus did not waive his conflict claim by failing to raise it, pro se, at trial or at sentencing.
Second, under New York law, ineffective counsel claims involving matters outside the record — including claims of conflict of interest — "must be pursued by way of a CPL 440.10 motion." People v. Kazmirski, 299 A.D.2d 826, 827, 749 N.Y.S.2d 194, 195 (4th Dep't 2002), appeal denied, 99 N.Y.2d 583, 755 N.Y.S.2d 719 (2003); People v. Mora, 290 A.D.2d 373, 373-74, 737 N.Y.S.2d 71, 72 (1st Dep't) ("Defendant's claim that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel due to a purported conflict of interest is based on factual allegations dehors the record that would require a CPL 440.10 motion. . . ."), appeal denied, 98 N.Y.2d 639, 744 N.Y.S.2d 768 (2002).*fn34 Because the conflict of interest claim in this case is based on evidence outside the trial record, Quinones had no choice but to bring his conflict claim under C.P.L. § 440.10 rather than on direct appeal. His failure to raise the conflict claim on direct appeal therefore cannot be considered an "adequate" state ground barring this Court's review on the merits. See, e.g., Senor v. Senkowski, No. 97-CV-4929, 1999 WL 689477 at *3-5 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 31, 1999) (state procedural bar did not constitute adequate and independent state ground, where the § 440 court found ineffective counsel claims barred under § 440.10(2)(c) for failure to raise the claims on direct appeal; habeas court held that "petitioner properly concluded that he should reserve his ineffective assistance claim for a § 440 motion rather than pursue it on direct appeal").
A more difficult issue is whether Quinones waived the conflict of interest claim by not asserting it until both attorney Morris and his brother Dennis were dead. (See Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Answer ¶ 28.) The State's habeas opposition papers assert this "laches" defense under federal law (State Am. Answer ¶ 28, citing Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 637, 113 S.Ct. 1710, 1721 (1993)), and the Court therefore turns to that issue.
B. The State Has Not Proved A Laches Defense, Especially Prejudice
The Second Circuit has held that despite passage of the AEDPA one-year statute of limitations, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1), habeas petitions from state court convictions continue to be governed by the equitable doctrine of laches. See Ross v. Artuz, 150 F.3d 97, 103 (2d Cir. 1998) ("We note that nothing in this opinion retreats from our observation in Peterson [v. Demskie], 107 F.3d , 93 [2d Cir. 1997], that the fact that a petition is not time-barred by AEDPA does not, in appropriate factual circumstances, preclude a dismissal of the petition as unduly delayed pursuant to Habeas Rule 9(a)."). Thus, even claims found timely under the one-year AEDPA statute of limitations may be denied on laches grounds. See, e.g., Cotto v. Lord, 99 Civ. 4874, 2001 WL 21246 at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 9, 2001), aff'd, No. 01-2056, 21 Fed. Appx. 89, 90, 2001 WL 1412350 at *1 (2d Cir. Nov. 8, 2001); Dumas v. Kelly, 105 F. Supp.2d 66, 69 (E.D.N.Y. 2000); Figueroa v. Portuondo, 96 F. Supp.2d 256, 278 n. 18 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).
Rule 9(a) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Proceedings in United States District Courts provides:
Delayed petitions. A petition may be dismissed if it
appears that the state of which the respondent is an
officer has been prejudiced in its ability to respond
to the petition by delay in its filing unless the
petitioner shows that it is based on grounds of which
he could not have had knowledge by the exercise of
reasonable diligence before the circumstances
prejudicial to the state occurred.
28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (2003).
"Rule 9(a) has been narrowly construed," such that the State faces a "`heavy burden'" in proving its laches defense. E.g., Cotto v. Lord, 2001 WL 21246 at *6; see also, e.g., Pacheco v. Artuz, 97 Civ. 3171, 2001 WL 1134864 at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 18, 2001); Dumas v. Kelly, 105 F. Supp.2d at 69-70. The State "must: (1) make a particularized showing of prejudice; (2) show that the prejudice resulted from the petitioner's delay in filing a petition; and (3) show that the petitioner has not acted with reasonable diligence." Pacheco v. Artuz, 2001 WL 1134864 at *4; accord, e.g., Cotto v. Lord, 2001 WL 21246 at *6; Dumas v. Kelly, 105 F. Supp.2d at 69-70; Figueroa v. Portuondo, 96 F. Supp.2d at 278.*fn35 "If the respondent [State] fails to establish any one of these elements, its Rule 9(a) motion fails." Dumas v. Kelly, 105 F. Supp.2d at 70.
The State must prove that prejudice was caused by petitioner's delay, and not "the `mere passage of time alone.'" Pacheco v. Artuz, 2001 WL 1134864 at *4; see, e.g., Hodge v. Walker, 1996 WL 363181 at *3 (dates when defense counsel died "are significant because they relate to whether the prejudice faced by respondent is attributable to petitioner's delay.").*fn36 Moreover, "`[p]rejudice to the state may not merely be presumed . . . from the absence of a transcript or of witnesses necessary to recount the details of [a] proceeding.'" Cotto v. Lord, 2001 WL 21246 at *6. Rather, the state "`must actually be disadvantaged by the absence of such resources in responding to the particular allegations or theories asserted by [the] petitioner as grounds for habeas corpus.'" Id.; accord, e.g., Pacheco v. Artuz, 2001 WL 1134864 at *4.*fn37 Finally, the claim of prejudice applies only to the inability to defend the habeas corpus petition, not to the difficulty of retrying the petitioner. See Vasquez v. Hillery, 474 U.S. 254, 265, 106 S.Ct. 617, 624 (1986) ("Congress has not seen fit . . . to provide the State with an additional defense to habeas corpus petitions based on the difficulties that it will face if forced to retry the defendant."); Figueroa v. Portuondo, 96 F. Supp.2d at 279 ("The State, if it claims prejudice, must show prejudice in terms of experiencing difficulty in responding to the petition, and not to the potential of retrying the Petitioner.").*fn38
As to the causation element: "`At a minimum, [the causation element] requires the state to establish that if [petitioner] had filed his habeas petition at some earlier time the evidence the state says it has lost would have been available.' For instance, the state cannot base its prejudice claim on the death of a key witness if that death occurred the day after the petitioner's state court trial." Dumas v. Kelly, 105 F. Supp.2d at 70 (citation omitted, brackets in original).
Once the State has satisfied the elements of prejudice, causation, and unreasonable delay, the burden shifts to the petitioner to rebut the claims. See, e.g., Rideau v. Whitley, 237 F.3d 472, 479 (5th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 533 U.S. 924, 121 S.Ct. 2539 (2001); Hughes v. Irvin, 967 F. Supp. at 779.*fn39
The laches "doctrine is `permissive rather than mandatory, allowing a district court to exercise discretion to entertain an application, even where the state has made the required showing of delay and prejudice.'" Pacheco v. Artuz, 2001 WL 1134864 at *4 (quoting Cotto v. Lord, 2001 WL 21246 at *5). As then District Judge Sotomayor explained, the defense should be applied "flexibly . . . to prevent a petitioner from unfairly disadvantaging the state by delaying adjudication of his habeas claims until witnesses are unavailable, memories stale, and evidence difficult to produce. The ultimate concern of this rule is that adjudications under a habeas petition be fair and accurate." Rodriguez v. Artuz, 990 F. Supp. 275, 279-80 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 161 F.3d 763 (2d Cir. 1998). "`[L]apses of time that affect the state's ability, but that do not make it "virtually impossible" for the state to respond, [do not] require dismissal.'" Rideau v. Whitley, 237 F.3d at 478.
The State asserts that Quinones unjustifiably delayed raising the conflict of interest claim until May 23, 2002 — nearly seven years after his July 10, 1995 sentencing — thus prejudicing the State's habeas defense because of the deaths of attorney Morris and brother Dennis:
Petitioner's task of satisfying his burden of proof
is further complicated by his decision [not] to raise
his conflict allegation until seven years after his
conviction. Of course, this timing renders his claims
suspect, since it appears that he waited until both
[Dennis] and Morris had passed away to level his
accusations. Neither man is available to testify as to
whether [Dennis] told Morris about his alleged
complicity in the Carter murder and thus neither man
can refute petitioner's claims. Petitioner also knows
that he may implicate his brother in the murder charge
with impunity, since his brother can no longer suffer
ramifications, such as a possible indictment for the
murder charge, from petitioner's post-conviction
strategy. Given the lengthy delay, this Court could
fairly resolve the claim by rejecting it on grounds of
laches, see Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 637,
113 S.Ct. 1710, 1721 (1993). At the very least,
petitioner's claims must be viewed skeptically, with
all factual inferences drawn in favor of the People.
(Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Answer ¶ 28.)*fn40
See Cotto v. Lord, 2001 WL 21246 at *6 ("Where a petitioner asserts an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the testimony of the attorney alleged to have rendered ineffective assistance is relevant and the death of that attorney may result in prejudice."); Hodge v. Walker, 95 Civ. 2873, 1996 WL 591247 at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 11, 1996) (habeas petition dismissed based on federal laches defense, where petitioner pleaded guilty in 1967, and later claimed ineffective counsel based on alleged out-of-court statements, but petitioner failed to show why he did not bring habeas petition by 1971, when one trial counsel died, 1987, when the other counsel died, or 1991, when the trial judge died).
As to the reasonableness of Quinones' delay in raising the conflict claim, Quinones asserts that he did not learn until 2002, when he hired a private detective, that Dennis had been arrested for possession of a .380 caliber handgun.*fn41 (See Dkt. No. 22: Quinones Traverse at 7-8, 11-12.) The State has not shown that Quinones knew this earlier, although it can be argued that Quinones should have known of Dennis' arrest and Morris' representation of Dennis, given that (1) Dennis and Quinones were brothers, and (2) according to Quinones, Dennis suggested to Quinones' family that they hire Morris to represent Quinones (see page 24 n. 13 above). In addition, in 1997, Quinones' then-appellate counsel sought leave from the First Department for funds to hire an investigator (Dkt. No. 13: Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Reply Br. Exs. D-E; see page 27 above), presumably to make the same investigations that Quinones' investigator made in 2002. Indeed, by April 1997, Quinones had obtained an allegedly exculpatory affidavit from Mr. Akili, who Quinones knew had not been called as a defense witness at trial by Morris. (See Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Appendix: Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Motion Ex. G: Akili Aff.) Thus, "by the exercise of reasonable diligence," perhaps Quinones should have known all relevant information about his conflict claim at the time of his trial or at least by 1997 when he tried to investigate matters.
Even were the Court to find Quinones' delay unreasonable (and it is not at all clear that the State carried its burden on this point), the State clearly has failed to prove that any delay prejudiced the State's response to Quinones' habeas petition. Morris is alleged to have died no later than September 5, 1996 (A.D.A. Rosen 9/2/02 C.P.L. § 440 Opp. Aff. ¶ 17 & Ex. A) — i.e., only fourteen months after Quinones' sentencing.*fn42 Any delay after Morris' death is, of course, irrelevant to the prejudice question. Thus, in order to prove prejudice, the State would have to show that Quinones unjustifiably delayed by failing to file his federal habeas petition before Morris' death in September 1996. The State has not done so given (1) the realities of New York State practice, since Quinones' direct appeal was not even filed at that time, (2) Quinones' inability to bring a federal habeas petition until he exhausted state remedies,*fn43 and (3) the heavy burden the State must bear to prove laches. See, e.g., Walters v. Scott, 21 F.3d 683, 688 (5th Cir. 1994) ("Assuming arguendo that the death of the court reporter and unavailability of records is construed as prejudicial to the state, the state bears the further burden of proving that [petitioner's] delay in filing his habeas petition caused those sources of evidence to be lost. At a minimum, this requires the state to establish that if [petitioner] had filed his habeas petition at some earlier time, the evidence the state says it has lost would have been available. . . . The court reporter may have died the day after [petitioner's] trial concluded, in which case the reporter's unavailability would certainly not be attributable to [petitioner's] delay in bringing his habeas petition."); Hill v. Linahan, 697 F.2d 1032, 1036 (11th Cir. 1983) ("[S]ince respondent does not disclose the date of [petitioner's counsel's] death, he has not demonstrated that [petitioner's] counsel would have been available if [petitioner] had brought his petition within a `reasonable' period of time."); Cotto v. Lord, 2001 WL 21246 at *6 (laches defense denied: "when trial counsel was contacted about the petitioner's case in 1993, three years after the end of the petitioner's direct appeal, trial counsel did not remember much about the case and had already thrown out all his files . . ., and it is not clear that his testimony would have been helpful to the respondent if this petition had been filed prior to his death"); Dumas v. Kelly, 105 F. Supp.2d at 70 (Dictum: "if the respondent fails to make the required showing of prejudice, it is irrelevant whether the petitioner was diligent or not in filing his habeas petition"; "For instance, the state cannot base its prejudice claim on the death of a key witness if that death occurred the day after the petitioner's state court trial."); Brewster v. Kirby, 954 F. Supp. 1155, 1159 (N.D.W. Va. 1997) (rejecting laches defense because, inter alia, "the presiding trial judge . . . died in the five-year interval between petitioner's June 1975 conviction and the September 1980 hearing on remand . . .; therefore, any prejudice to the respondent as a result of [the judge's] death is not caused by any alleged delay in bringing the instant petition").
Nor can the State prove laches with respect to Dennis' testimony. The State correctly argues that after Dennis died, Quinones could "implicate his brother in the murder charge with impunity." (State Am. Answer ¶ 28.) "The defense that the crime was committed by someone else who is unfortunately dead has traditionally been met with skepticism." People v. Simon, 75 A.D.2d 516, 516, 426 N.Y.S.2d 753, 754 (1st Dep't 1980). However, the issue here is not whether Quinones' conflict claim should be viewed with skepticism based on its timing, but whether the State's ability to respond to the habeas petition was prejudiced by Quinones' delay. The only colorable argument is that Dennis is now unavailable to rebut Quinones' theory that Dennis told Morris that he killed Carter. The State, however, has offered no evidence establishing the date of Dennis' death.*fn44
The State's federal laches defense therefore should be denied.
IV. QUINONES' CONFLICT OF INTEREST CLAIM SHOULD BE DENIED ON THE
A. Applicable Legal Principles
"`A defendant's Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel includes the right to representation by conflict-free counsel.'" United States v. Schwarz, 283 F.3d 76, 90 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting United States v. Blau, 159 F.3d 68, 74 (2d Cir. 1998)).*fn45 "The mere physical presence of an attorney does not fulfill the Sixth Amendment guarantee when the advocate's conflicting obligations have effectively sealed his lips on crucial matters." Holloway v. Arkansas, 435 U.S. 475, 490, 98 S.Ct. 1173, 1181 (1978); see also, e.g., Mickens v. Taylor, 535 U.S. 162, 122 S.Ct. 1237, 1241 (2002). As the Supreme Court has repeatedly noted:
"Joint representation of conflicting interests is
suspect because of what it tends to prevent the
attorney from doing. . . . [A] conflict may . . .
prevent an attorney from challenging the admission of
evidence prejudicial to one client but perhaps
favorable to another, or from arguing at the
sentencing hearing the relative involvement and
culpability of his clients in order to minimize the
culpability of one by emphasizing that of another."
Wheat v. United States, 486 U.S. 153
, 160, 108 S.Ct. 1692, 1697 (1988) (quoting Holloway v. Arkansas, 435 U.S. at 489-90, 98 S.Ct. at 1181). The right to conflict-free counsel applies equally to appointed and, as here, retained counsel. E.g., Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335
, 344, 100 S.Ct. 1708, 1716 (1980).
"`[A] defendant has suffered ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment if his attorney has (1) a potential conflict of interest that resulted in prejudice to the defendant, or (2) an actual conflict of interest that adversely affected the attorney's performance.'" United States v. Blau, 159 F.3d at 74; accord, e.g., United States v. Perez, 325 F.3d at 125; United States v. Blount, 291 F.3d at 210-11; Lopez v. Scully, 58 F.3d 38, 41 (2d Cir. 1995).
The standard governing an ineffective assistance of counsel claim based on an asserted conflict of interest was articulated by the Supreme Court in Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 100 S.Ct. 1708 (1980), and differs from the more general ineffective assistance standard enunciated in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052 (1984). See, e.g., United States v. White, 174 F.3d 290, 294-95 (2d Cir. 1999). Indeed, both prongs of the standard — defective performance and prejudice — are substantially different under Cuyler v. Sullivan.
As to the defective performance prong, where, as here, a petitioner "raised no objection at trial" regarding the alleged conflict, Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. at 348-49, 100 S.Ct. at 1718, his Sixth Amendment claim cannot prevail unless he demonstrates "that counsel actively represented conflicting interests and that an actual conflict of interest adversely affected his lawyer's performance," Burger v. Kemp, 483 U.S. 776, 783, 107 S.Ct. 3114, 3120 (1987) (citations & internal quotations omitted); accord, e.g., Mickens v. Taylor, 122 S.Ct. at 1242 ("absent objection, a defendant must demonstrate that `a conflict of interest actually affected the adequacy of his representation'") (quoting Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. at 348-49, 100 S.Ct. at 1718). The Supreme Court recently clarified that "the Sullivan standard is not properly read as requiring inquiry into actual conflict as something separate and apart from adverse effect. An `actual conflict,' for Sixth Amendment purposes, is a conflict of interest that adversely affects counsel's performance." Mickens v. Taylor, 122 S.Ct. at 1244 n. 5; accord id. at 1243 ("we think `an actual conflict of interest' mean[s] precisely a conflict that affected counsel's performance — as opposed to a mere theoretical division of loyalties.").
"The burden of proof rest[s] on [Quinones] to show a conflict of interest by a preponderance of the evidence." Triana v. United States, 205 F.3d 36, 40 (2d Cir.) (§ 2255 proceeding), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 956, 121 S.Ct. 378 (2000); accord, e.g., Mickens v. Taylor, 240 F.3d 348, 361 (4th Cir. 2001) (en banc) (petitioner must prove by preponderance of the evidence that actual conflict adversely affected attorney's performance), aff'd, 535 U.S. 162, 122 S.Ct. 1237 (2002); see also, e.g., Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. at 348, 100 S.Ct. at 1718 ("In order to establish a violation of the Sixth Amendment, a defendant who raised no objection at trial must demonstrate that an actual conflict of interest adversely affected his lawyer's performance."). "[T]he burden of proof cannot be met by speculative assertions of bias or prejudice." Triana v. United States, 205 F.3d at 41.
As for the prejudice prong, because, among other things, "it is difficult to measure the precise effect on the defense of representation corrupted by conflicting interests," Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 692, 104 S.Ct. at 2067, "a defendant who shows that a conflict of interest actually affected the adequacy of his representation need not demonstrate prejudice in order to obtain relief," Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. at 349-50, 100 S.Ct. at 1719; accord, e.g., Mickens v. Taylor, 122 S.Ct. at 1244 ("prejudice will be presumed only if the conflict has significantly affected counsel's performance — thereby rendering the verdict unreliable, even though Strickland prejudice cannot be shown"); Burger v. Kemp, 483 U.S. at 783, 107 S.Ct. at 3120.*fn46
To date, the Supreme Court only has applied this presumption of prejudice to cases involving attorneys who concurrently represented clients with conflicting interests — so-called "multiple concurrent representation." Mickens v. Taylor, 122 S.Ct. at 1245-46 ("In resolving this case on the grounds on which it was presented to us, we do not rule upon the need for the Sullivan prophylaxis in cases of successive representation. Whether Sullivan should be extended to such cases remains, as far as the jurisprudence of this Court is concerned, an open question.").*fn47
B. Morris Was Not Subject to an Actual Conflict of Interest that
Adversely Affected His Performance
Prior to Mickens v. Taylor, 535 U.S. 162, 122 S.Ct. 1237
(2002), courts consistently split the Sullivan deficiency prong into two elements: (1) actual conflict, and (2) adverse effect on performance. Under this prior precedent, a defendant was required (1) first to prove an actual conflict, and (2) then to prove that the conflict adversely affected the attorney's performance, i.e., that "a `lapse in representation'" resulted from the conflict. See, e.g., United States v. Schwarz, 283 F.3d 76
, 91-92 (2d Cir. 2002). Although Mickens effectively conflated the two elements, Mickens v. Taylor, 122 S.Ct. at 1244 n. 5 ("An `actual conflict,' for Sixth Amendment purposes, is a conflict of interest that adversely affects counsel's performance."), this Court will analyze the two elements separately for conceptual clarity. See Williams v. United States, No. 02-2198, 2003 WL 21182101 at *2-3 (2d Cir. May 20, 2003) (Post-Mickens decision: "To prevail on an `actual conflict' claim, a defendant must first show that an actual conflict existed, then demonstrate that this conflict adversely affected defense counsel's performance." Applying Strickland standard because defendant failed to prove that a conflict of interest existed.).
1. Morris Did Not Have an Actual Conflict of Interest
a. Morris' Representation of Quinones Was Successive To, Rather
than Concurrent with, his Representation of Dennis
A threshold issue is whether Morris' representation of Quinones was successive to or concurrent with his representation of Dennis, as a conflict will be more easily found where the representation was concurrent. See, e.g., Freund v. Butterworth, 165 F.3d 839
, 859 (11th Cir.) (en banc) ("`[G]enerally, it is more difficult to prove that successive representation caused an actual conflict of interest than that simultaneous representation did so.'"), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 817, 120 S.Ct. 57 (1999); see also, e.g., Moss v. United States, 323 F.3d 445, 459 (6th Cir. 2003); Perillo v. Johnson, 205 F.3d 775
, 797 (5th Cir. 2000) ("Several of our sister circuits have drawn such a distinction in Sixth Amendment conflict of interest cases, holding that an actual conflict may be more difficult to prove when it arises from the context of successive or serial representation rather than concurrent representation.") (citing cases); Salam v. Lockhart, 874 F.2d 525
, 527 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 893
, 110 S.Ct. 252
(1989); Mannhalt v. Reed, 847 F.2d 576
, 580 (9th Cir.) ("Generally, it is more difficult to show an actual conflict resulting from successive rather than simultaneous representation."), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 908
, 109 S.Ct. 260
The state court's C.P.L. § 440 decision implicitly held that Morris' representation of Quinones was successive to Morris' representation of Dennis, as follows: "Moreover, with respect to the defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the evidence submitted by the People shows that after defendant's brother absconded and was returned to court, he was represented by Victor Dailey Rivera Esq. and not Alvin Morrison [sic] Esq. . . . ." (Dkt. No. 17:9/19/02 State Court § 440 Decision at 2.) The state court's rationale is misguided. It proves nothing that Morris did not still represent Dennis when Dennis returned to court in September 1996, given that Morris had died earlier. pages 22-23 above.) Rather, the question is whether Morris continued to represent Dennis at the time of Quinones' June 1995 trial and July 1995 sentencing. Nevertheless, while the state court's rationale may have been erroneous, this Court finds that the holding of successive representation is supportable on alternative grounds.*fn48
"[O]nce established, a lawyer-client relationship does not terminate easily. Something inconsistent with the continuation of the relationship must transpire in order to end the relationship." SWS Fin. Fund A v. Salomon Bros. Inc., 790 F. Supp. 1392, 1398 (N.D.Ill. 1992).*fn49 In this case, Morris filed a notice of appearance on behalf of Dennis in February 1993, and Dennis disappeared one month later, reappearing in September 1996. (See page 22 above.) In the interim, Morris appeared on behalf of Quinones in January 1994 and defended him at trial and sentencing in June and July 1995. (See page 22 above.)
Although Morris' representation of Dennis was brief, it is difficult to discern a clear termination to the relationship, as Morris never withdrew his notice of appearance and Dennis was still alive at the time of Quinones' trial. Courts generally hold that mere passage of time (here, from February 1993 to June 1995) does not end the attorney-client relationship.*fn50 See, e.g., Perillo v. Johnson, 205 F.3d 775, 798-99 (5th Cir. 2000) ("Where the prior representation has not unambiguously been terminated, or is followed closely by the subsequent representation, there is more likely to be a conflict arising from defense counsel's representation of the first client. . . . Where, however, defense counsel's involvement in the prior representation was either transient or insubstantial, we have been less inclined to find an actual conflict."); United States v. Levy, 25 F.3d 146, 156 (2d Cir. 1994) (questioning whether counsel's representation of co-defendant actually terminated when co-defendant fled to Israel, given that counsel "never formally withdrew as [co-defendant's] representative"); cf. Caban v. United States, 281 F.3d 778, 784 n. 4 (8th Cir. 2002) (although attorney claimed his work for other client was not an "active case," this did not preclude finding of concurrent representation and conflict). However, the passage of time, combined with Dennis' disappearance (and the lack of any evidence of later contacts between Dennis and Morris) and, as far as the record shows, Morris' "transient or insubstantial" role in Dennis' criminal case, may provide firmer evidence that the relationship effectively was terminated before Quinones' trial.
In any event, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that "`[b]reach of an ethical standard does not necessarily make out a denial of the Sixth Amendment guarantee of assistance of counsel.'" Mickens v. Taylor, 535 U.S. 162, 122 S.Ct. 1237, 1246 (2002) (quoting Nix v. Whiteside, 475 U.S. 157, 165, 106 S.Ct. 988, 993 (1986)); accord, e.g., United States v. Taylor, 139 F.3d 924, 930 (D.C. Cir. 1998) ("An ethical lapse is not the same as a conflict of interest. . . ."); United States v. Gallegos, 39 F.3d 276, 278 (10th Cir. 1994) ("our inquiry is not whether a state disciplinary rule for lawyers has been violated . . ., but whether, everything considered, Appellant's counsel `actively' represented conflicting interests").
Moreover, the Mickens Court distinguished successive from concurrent representation on the ground that, in a concurrent situation "`counsel actively represented conflicting interests.'" Mickens v. Taylor, 122 S.Ct. at 1245. Whether or not the relationship between Morris and Dennis technically terminated, the situation here resembles a successive representation more than a concurrent one. The evidence shows that Morris represented Dennis very briefly, apparently only at Dennis' arraignment. Dennis promptly disappeared, never to contact Morris again (as far as the record reveals), and Morris represented Quinones at trial over two years later. All things considered, this Court cannot conclude that Morris continued to "actively represent" Dennis at the time of Quinones' trial.
The Supreme Court has never decided the precise contours of successive or concurrent representation or whether a situation like this should be deemed a concurrent representation. (See pages 55-56 above, and pages 78-79 below.) Accordingly, applying AEDPA's deferential standard, this Court cannot say that the state court's conclusion that Morris' representation of Quinones was successive constituted an objectively unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent.
b. Quinones Cannot Prove that Morris was Actually Conflicted, As
there is no Evidence that Dennis Shared Relevant Confidences
With Morris or That the Two Cases Were Substantially Related "
A conflict may be rooted in the attorney's prior representation of a person whose interests are antagonistic to those of his present client." United States v. Blount, 291 F.3d 201
, 211 (2d Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 123 S.Ct. 938 (2003); see also, e.g., United States v. Malpiedi, 62 F.3d 465, 467-70 (2d Cir. 1995); United States v. DiTommaso, 817 F.2d 201
, 219-20 (2d Cir. 1987); United States v. Gonzalez, 105 F. Supp.2d 220, 223-24 (S.D.N.Y. 2000); see Church v. Sullivan, 942 F.2d 1501
, 1510-11 (10th Cir. 1991) ("in the context of successive representations, we find it difficult to envision circumstances more fraught with inherent conflict than where an appointed attorney representing a reluctant defendant must present a defense theory inculpating the attorney's former client, particularly where the former representation was factually intertwined with the criminal defendant's case").*fn51
However, "[i]t is more difficult for a defendant to show that counsel actively represented conflicting interests in cases of successive rather than simultaneous representation." Moss v. United States, 323 F.3d at 459 (collecting cases); accord, e.g., Enoch v. Gramley, 70 F.3d 1490, 1496 (7th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 829, 117 S.Ct. 95 (1996).
The appropriate standard for finding an actual conflict in the context of successive representation has been described as follows:
An "actual conflict" of interest occurs when a lawyer
has "inconsistent interests." In order to prove that
an "actual conflict" hindered petitioner's lawyer's
performance, petitioner "must make a factual showing
of inconsistent interests" or point to "specific
instances in the record" to suggest an actual
impairment of his or her interests. "[G]enerally, it
is more difficult to prove that successive
representation caused an actual conflict of interest
than that simultaneous representation did so." At
minimum, petitioner must "show that either (1)
counsel's earlier representation of the witness was
substantially and particularly related to counsel's
later representation of [petitioner], or (2) counsel
actually learned particular confidential information
during the prior representation of the witness that
was relevant to [petitioner's] later case." Even proof
of both substantial relatedness and confidential
information, however, may not necessarily be enough to
demonstrate "inconsistent interests" in a successive
representation case. The situation may call for "other
proof of inconsistent interests." Overall, the "actual
conflict" inquiry is fact-specific, consistent with
the petitioner's ultimate burden "to prove that his
conviction was unconstitutional."
Freund v. Butterworth, 165 F.3d 839
, 859 (11th Cir.) (en banc) (citations omitted), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 817, 120 S.Ct. 57 (1999); accord, e.g., Moss v. United States, 323 F.3d at 462; Enoch v. Gramley, 70 F.3d at 1496; Mannhalt v. Reed, 847 F.2d 576
, 580 (9th Cir.) ("In successive representation, conflicts of interests may arise if the cases are substantially related or if the attorney reveals privileged communications of the former client or otherwise divides his loyalties."), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 908
, 109 S.Ct. 260
Accordingly, this Court must first determine whether an "actual conflict of interest" existed by looking to whether (1) the two cases were substantially related or (2) relevant confidences were shared. If either element is satisfied, then the attorney may have labored under "inconsistent interests." See, e.g., Smith v. White, 815 F.2d 1401, 1405-06 (11th Cir.) (to determine whether the attorney labored under "inconsistent interests," look to whether cases were substantially related and whether confidences were shared), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 863, 108 S.Ct. 181 (1987). The Court must then determine whether these inconsistent interests caused an adverse effect on representation.
Quinones has argued that at the time of trial, Morris must have known that Dennis was the "true killer," because Morris knew that: (1) the .380 caliber handgun for which Dennis was arrested in 1993 was the same type of weapon used in the Carter murder; (2) the prosecution's case relied solely on the eyewitness testimony of individuals who did not know Quinones; (3) in the words of the judge at the Wade hearing, Quinones and Dennis "look very much alike"; (4) Dennis was arrested in the nearby Bronx (the murder took place in upper Manhattan); (5) three months after the Carter shooting Dennis was arrested on the gun charge and then disappeared; and (6) in 1980 Dennis had been convicted of attempted murder. (See page 23 above.)
These allegations prove neither that Dennis shared relevant confidences with Morris nor that Dennis' and Quiniones' cases were substantially related.
Quinones argues that during the short period in which Morris represented Dennis on the gun charge, Dennis could have confided in Morris that he killed Carter. Quinones' assertion is, however, purely speculative, and thus cannot ground his conflict of interest claim. See, e.g., Freund v. Butterworth, 165 F.3d at 864 (it cannot be presumed that confidences were shared absent evidence of a substantial relationship between the two actions); Enoch v. Gramley, 70 F.3d at 1498-99 (hearing unnecessary in § 2254 habeas proceeding, where petitioner offered only speculative assertions that allegedly conflicted attorney obtained relevant confidences from conflicting client). Moreover, it seems unlikely that Dennis would have shared with Morris confidences relating to Carter's murder, given that Morris only represented Dennis for a very short time, and apparently only as to an arraignment.*fn52 See Perillo v. Johnson, 205 F.3d 775, 799 (5th Cir. 2000) ("Where . . . defense counsel's involvement in the prior representation was either transient or insubstantial, [the Fifth Circuit has] been less inclined to find an actual conflict."); Salam v. Lockhart, 874 F.2d 525, 528 (8th Cir.) (in determining whether prior representation of another suspect in petitioner's case constituted an actual conflict, court considered "minimal" nature of prior representation, as suspect was only "represented for one day at a bond hearing"), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 898, 110 S.Ct. 252 (1989); Etna Prods. Co. v. Tactica Int'l, Inc., 234 F. Supp.2d 442, 444 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) ("The nature of the prior representation — brief, episodic, and limited — does not suggest a strong likelihood that relevant confidential information passed from defendants to" counsel).*fn53
Nor can Quinones show that Dennis' and Quinones' cases were "substantially related." "A nearly endless variety of approaches for determining whether a substantial relationship exists has surfaced over the years. . . ." ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct at 51:224 (2002); see generally id. at 51:221-31; 1 Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. & W. William Hodes, The Law of Lawyering, § 13.5 (3d ed. 2002). The Second Circuit follows a stringent standard, requiring that the issues in the former representation be "identical" to or "essentially the same" as those in the current representation. Government of India v. Cook Indus., Inc., 569 F.2d 737, 739-40 (2d Cir. 1978) (granting disqualification in civil actions"only upon a showing that the relationship between issues in the prior and present cases is `patently clear.'").*fn54
The keystone in Quinones' argument that the two cases were substantially related is that (1) Dennis' gun was the gun that was used to kill Carter, (2) the case against Quinones was based solely on eyewitness testimony, and (3) Quinones and Dennis resembled each other. Quinones' argument fails on the third point: the only support for the alleged physical resemblance between Dennis and Quinones consists of: (1) Quinones' post-trial assertion (see Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Appendix: Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Br. at 5-6, 11; see also Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Answer ¶ 29) that one of the pictures in a photo array shown to eyewitnesses depicted his brother Dennis; and (2) the trial judge's remark, after reviewing the same photo array at the Wade hearing, that Quinones and his "brother" resembled each other (H. 54).*fn55 In his most recent submission to this Court, however, Quinones claimed that the photo array depicted not Dennis, but rather "David Quinones," another "one of Petitioner's brothers." (Dkt. No. 22: Quinones Traverse Br. at 12.)*fn56 Further, the State has now submitted an affidavit averring, based on Dennis' arrest records, that the individual identified in the photo array as Quinones' brother was not, in fact, Dennis. (Dkt. No. 25: A.D.A. Axelrod 5/28/03 Aff. ¶¶ 3-5.) As a result, the record now contains no admissible evidence that Dennis resembled Quinones.
Absent evidence of a close resemblance between Dennis and Quinones, Dennis was not a plausible suspect in the murder case, and thus Morris did not labor under a conflict of interest, as Morris was not torn between defending Quinones and shifting the blame towards Dennis. See Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. at 350, 100 S.Ct. at 1719 ("[U]ntil a defendant shows that his counsel actively represented conflicting interests, he has not established the constitutional predicate for his claim of ineffective assistance."); Triana v. United States, 205 F.3d 36, 42 (2d Cir.) (rejecting as "speculation" defendant's claim that his attorney was conflicted by third-party's payment of attorney's fees; defendant failed to prove predicate that attorney actively represented conflicting claims), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 956, 121 S.Ct. 378 (2000); Freund v. Butterworth, 165 F.3d at 864 (where petitioner claimed conflict because attorney failed to shift blame to client formerly represented by attorney, court rejected argument that two crimes were "substantially related," because, inter alia, "no evidence exists in the record that the gun [used by petitioner in murder] was the same one that [former client] used in the aggravated assault case").*fn57 In any event, even if the identity of the gun would cause the cases to be considered substantially related, the Court concludes in the next section that Morris' prior representation of Dennis did not adversely affect his representation of Quinones.
2. Morris' Prior Representation Of Dennis Did Not Adversely Affect His
Representation of Quinones
a. The Adverse Effect Standard
As noted above, Quinones must show by a preponderance of the evidence that "`a conflict of interest actually affected the adequacy of his representation.'" Mickens v. Taylor, 535 U.S. 162, 122 S.Ct. 1237, 1242-43 (2002) (petitioner must establish that the conflict "affected counsel's performance — as opposed to a mere theoretical division of loyalties"); see also Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 350, 100 S.Ct. 1708, 1719 (1980) ("[U]ntil a defendant shows that his counsel actively represented conflicting interests, he has not established the constitutional predicate for his claim of ineffective assistance."). The Supreme Court has explained, in general terms, that the conflict must have an "adverse" and "significant" effect, Mickens v. Taylor, 122 S.Ct. at 1244 n. 5, 1245, but has not described the precise contours of the "lapse in representation," Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. at 349, 100 S.Ct. at 1719; see, e.g., Burger v. Kemp, 483 U.S. 776, 785, 107 S.Ct. 3114, 3121 (1987) (rejecting claim of actual conflict of interest because, inter alia, any conflict "did not harm [the allegedly conflicted] lawyer's advocacy").
To fill this gap, the Second Circuit adopted a test followed by both the First and Third Circuits:
[I]n order to prove adverse effect on the basis of what an
attorney failed to do,
"[a defendant first] must demonstrate that some
plausible alternative defense strategy or tactic
might have been pursued. He need not show that the
defense would necessarily have been successful if it
had been used, but that it possessed sufficient
substance to be a viable alternative. Second, he
must establish that the alternative defense was
inherently in conflict with or not undertaken due to
the attorney's other loyalties or interests."
Winkler v. Keane, 7 F.3d 304
, 309 (2d Cir. 1993) (quoting United States v. Gambino, 864 F.2d 1064
, 1070 (3d Cir. 1988) (quoting United States v. Fahey, 769 F.2d 829
, 836 (1st Cir. 1985)), cert. denied, 492 U.S. 906
, 109 S.Ct. 3215
(1989)), cert. denied, 511 U.S. 1022
, 114 S.Ct. 1407
(1994); accord, e.g., United States v. Schwarz, 283 F.3d 76
, 92 (2d Cir. 2002); Amiel v. United States, 209 F.3d 195
, 199 (2d Cir. 2000); Triana v. United States, 205 F.3d 36
, 40-41 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 956, 121 S.Ct. 378 (2000). Based on this two-element test, the Second Circuit has held that once a petitioner demonstrates an actual conflict, he:
is not required to show that the lapse in
representation affected the outcome of the trial or
that, but for the conflict, counsel's conduct of the
trial would have been different. [United States v.]
Malpiedi, 62 F.3d [465,] 469 [(2d Cir. 1995)]. The
forgone strategy or tactic is not even subject to a
requirement of reasonableness. Id. As we have
[t]he test is a strict one because a defendant has a
right to an attorney who can make strategic and
tactical choices free from any conflict of
interest. An attorney who is prevented from pursuing
a strategy or tactic because of the canons of ethics
is hardly an objective judge of whether that
strategy or tactic is sound trial practice.
United States v. Schwarz, 283 F.3d at 92.*fn58
Other circuits have held, to the contrary, that in order to prove an adverse effect, petitioner must show that the foregone strategy was "objectively reasonable." See Mickens v. Taylor, 240 F.3d 348, 361 (4th Cir. 2001) (en banc), aff'd, 535 U.S. 162, 122 S.Ct. 1237 (2002); Freund v. Butterworth, 165 F.3d 839, 860 (11th Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 817, 120 S.Ct. 57 (1999).
As the en banc Eleventh Circuit held:
First, [petitioner] must point to "some plausible
alternative defense strategy or tactic [that] might
have been pursued." Second, he must demonstrate that
the alternative strategy or tactic was reasonable
under the facts. Because prejudice is presumed, the
petitioner "need not show that the defense would
necessarily have been successful if [the alternative
strategy or tactic] had been used," rather he only
need prove that the alternative "possessed sufficient
substance to be a viable alternative." Finally, he
must show some link between the actual conflict and
the decision to forgo the alternative strategy of
defense. In other words, "he must establish that the
alternative defense was inherently in conflict with or
not undertaken due to the attorney's other loyalties
Freund v. Butterworth, 165 F.3d at 860 (quoting Freund v. Butterworth, 117 F.3d 1543
, 1579-80 (11th Cir. 1997)) (emphasis added & citations omitted).*fn59
Thus, there is no Supreme Court precedent, but a split in circuit authority, regarding the appropriate conflict of interest standard. Under AEDPA, however, the question is whether the state court's decision unreasonably applied Supreme Court precedent; "[a] petitioner cannot win habeas relief solely by demonstrating that the state court unreasonably applied Second Circuit precedent." Yung v. Walker, 296 F.3d 129, 135 (2d Cir. 2002). Given that the Supreme Court has not spoken on whether or not the plausible alternative strategy need be "reasonable," and the circuits are divided, this Court cannot say that the Second Circuit's holding that a petitioner need not prove that a foregone strategy was "reasonable" represents "clearly established" Supreme Court precedent under AEDPA. See James v. Herbert, No. 02-2389, 57 Fed. Appx. 894, 896, 2003 WL 328803 at *2 (2d Cir. Feb. 13, 2003) (where Supreme Court had not spoken on a particular counsel conflict issue, and at least one other circuit court disagreed with the Second Circuit's position on the issue, the Second Circuit could not say that the state court's contrary decision "`unreasonably failed to extend a clearly established, Supreme Court defined, legal principle to [a] situation which that principle should have, in reason, governed'"); Hines v. Miller, 318 F.3d 157, 164 (2d Cir.) ("Given the many divergent approaches and outcomes in federal courts that have applied clearly established Supreme Court precedent to the facts at issue and the absence of any Supreme Court decision concerning this type of [ineffective assistance] claim, we find no basis for concluding — as the dissent does — that the Appellate Division's decision here constituted an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States."), cert. denied, No. 02-9637, 2003 WL 1609428 (May 19, 2003); DelValle v. Armstrong, 306 F.3d 1197, 1200 (2d Cir. 2002). This Court therefore concludes that, in the absence of Supreme Court precedent on point, the First Department's decision can be upheld under the Eleventh Circuit standard — i.e., Quinones had the burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that Morris did not pursue some "reasonable" strategy because of his alleged conflict.*fn60
b. There was no Adverse Effect on Morris' Representation Of
Quinones, Because (a) Dennis was Not a Plausible Suspect, and
(b) Pointing the Finger at Dennis Would Only Have Inculpated
Quinones alleges that but for a conflict of interest, Morris would have: (1) requested that ballistics tests be performed on Dennis' gun; (2) accused Dennis at trial of committing the murder; and (3) called certain alibi witnesses to testify. These were not reasonable strategies.
First, Morris' failure to call other witnesses, including Akili, cannot reasonably be ascribed to any conflict of interest.*fn61 Akili's affidavit merely exculpates Quinones; it does not in any way inculpate Dennis. (Dkt. No. 20: State Am. Appendix: Quinones C.P.L. § 440 Motion Ex. G: Akili Aff.) Quinones' assertion that Akili might have identified Dennis at trial as the killer lacks support in Akili's affidavit, which appears to have been prepared at Quinones' (or his current investigator's) request. (See id.) As for witnesses other than Akili, since Quinones fails to describe the nature of their testimony, the Court cannot conclude that they would have inculpated Dennis. Since calling Akili and the other witnesses would not have inculpated Dennis, Morris' failure to call them does not demonstrate a conflict of interest or a plausible alternative defense strategy that was foregone because of a conflict. At best, the alleged failure to offer these other witnesses merely demonstrates Morris' incompetence, an issue analyzed in Point V below. See, e.g., Moseley v. Scully, 908 F. Supp. 1120, 1142 (E.D.N.Y. 1995) ("Even assuming, arguendo, that these [foregone] motions were plausible and likely to succeed, there is simply no evidence that they were `inherently in conflict with or not undertaken due to [attorney's purported] other loyalties or interests.'"), aff'd, 104 F.3d 356 (2d Cir. 1996).
Second, as explained in Point IV.B.1.b above, absent evidence of a close physical resemblance between Dennis and Quinones, Morris would have had no reason to believe that Dennis was a reasonable suspect in the Carter murder. Indeed, although it is now undisputed that Dennis possessed the murder weapon, there is no evidence that Morris knew, or had reason to know, this "at the time of [his] tactical decision," Mickens v. Taylor, 240 F.3d 348, 361 (4th Cir. 2001) (en banc), aff'd, 535 U.S. 162, 122 S.Ct. 1237 (2002). Because Morris had no plausible reason to suspect Dennis of the murder, accusing Dennis of the murder (or even requesting a ballistics test) was not a "reasonable," plausible defense strategy that an unconflicted attorney would have taken, and thus any "conflict" here had no adverse effect on Quinones' case. See United States v. Blount, 291 F.3d 201, 211-12 (2d Cir. 2002) (no conflict found where a member of defendant's attorney's law firm had represented the government's witness in an unrelated matter, but, inter alia, defendant failed to show that the prior representation "had any effect" on defense counsel's performance), cert. denied, 123 S.Ct. 938 (2003); Freund v. Butterworth, 165 F.3d 839, 866-68 (11th Cir.) (en banc) ("wholesale shifting of the blame to [allegedly conflicted attorney's former client] was not a plausible defensive `option realistically available to trial counsel[,]'" even though all of the state's physical proof "either belonged to or was found on property of" the former client, who was a separately-tried, non-testifying co-defendant), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 817, 120 S.Ct. 57 (1999); Oliver v. Wainwright, 782 F.2d 1521, 1525-26 (11th Cir. 1986) (petitioner failed to prove actual conflict of interest based on attorney's failure to shift blame to jointly-represented co-defendant, as the facts did not support the blame-shifting theory; although the co-defendant "either held the deceased by her arm, or instigated the fight between [petitioner] and the deceased, or both . . . [t]hese facts alone do not support the theory that [co-defendant] stabbed the deceased"), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 914, 107 S.Ct. 313 (1986); Bisaccia v. United States, No. 97 CV 6683, 97 CV 3659, 2000 WL 703014 at *10 n. 6 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 12, 2000) (rejecting as "speculation about possibilities untethered to facts" defendant's claim that counsel's conflict kept him from "`put[ting] on truthful evidence that [counsel's prior client] had a key role in the . . . murder . . . and that [defendant] was not at all involved'"); United States v. Felzenberg, 97 Civ. 2800, 93 CR. 460, 1998 WL 152569 at *16 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 2, 1998) (Sotomayor, D.J.) (rejecting as "baseless" defendant's "claim that, because of a conflict of interest, [defendant's attorney] rejected a defense that would point to [attorney's other client] as the real villain behind the fraud scheme," as this alternative defense strategy "lacked credibility").*fn62
Third, requesting a ballistics test proving that Dennis possessed the murder weapon had the serious risk of inculpating, not exculpating, Quinones. Importantly, because no evidence linked Quinones with a murder weapon, Morris was able argue to the jury that the state's case consisted solely of two "eyewitnesses," one of whom did not see the shooting and the other of whom could not identify Quinones at trial. (See pages 14-15 above.) Had a ballistics test shown that Dennis' gun was the murder weapon, and had Morris then accused Dennis of the murder, the prosecution would have argued to the jury (as it has argued here) that Quinones undoubtedly gave the gun to his brother Dennis during the three months between the murder and Dennis' arrest. The prosecution could then point to both eyewitness testimony and a connection between Quinones and the murder weapon, via his brother Dennis. Testing Dennis' gun could have supplied a missing link in the prosecution's case — a link between Quinones and the murder weapon. That would hardly have been a "reasonable" trial strategy. See Triana v. United States, 205 F.3d 36, 41 (2d Cir.) (attorney's advice that defendant not testify did not "support . . . inference of divided loyalty," as such testimony would have been risky), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 956, 121 S.Ct. 378 (2000); United States v. Felzenberg, 1998 WL 152569 at *16 (rejecting defendant's claim that counsel failed to pursue a "viable alternative defense strategy," as the proffered strategy would have undermined the reasonable strategy actually pursued).
Moreover, in the absence of a resemblance between Dennis and Quinones, the jury would have had little reason to think that the eyewitnesses identified the wrong brother. Accusing Dennis would only have linked Quinones to the murder weapon while undermining the defense theory that Quinones was framed by other drug dealers.*fn63 See Lombardo v. United States, 222 F. Supp.2d 1367, 1386-87 (S.D.Fla. 2002) (attorney's failure to call his prior client as a witness did not prove divided loyalty, as it would have undermined defendant's only available defense theory); cf. Hess v. Mazurkiewicz, 135 F.3d 905, 910-11 (3d Cir. 1998) (finding actual conflict where attorney failed to call witnesses who might have exculpated petitioner and inculpated attorney's former client).
Finally, the key issue in any conflict of interest claim is whether a reasonable attorney unburdened by the conflict might have acted differently at trial. Here, Quinones' conflict claim is dependent on his supposition that Dennis confessed to his attorney Morris at the time of his arraignment on weapons possession charges that he had shot Carter. Yet a reasonable, unconflicted attorney would not have been privy to that confession. Having no evidence that Dennis was the killer, an unconflicted attorney would have had no reason to point the finger at Dennis. This Court must therefore conclude that even if Dennis told Morris that he was the murderer, that confidence did not have an adverse effect on Morris' representation of Quinones, as Morris acted no differently than an unconflicted attorney would have acted. See United States v. Shwayder, 320 F.3d 889, 890 (9th Cir. 2003) ("There was one fact not available from an independent source — that [prior client] had lied to [attorney] during his prior representation. It is impossible, however, to characterize [attorney's] failure to mention this fact as an adverse effect caused by his former representation of [prior client]. [Attorney's] communications with [prior client] were protected by the attorney-client privilege, so they could not have been elicited by any other lawyer either. [Attorney] did, nevertheless, emphasize in closing that [prior client] had lied to everyone else, specifically mentioning `his [other] lawyer,' as well as [defendant — attorney's current client]."), amending 312 F.3d 1109, 1119-20 (9th Cir. 2002). Since Quinones has asserted (to avoid laches) that he did not know of Dennis' arrest for possessing a .380 gun, an unconflicted attorney similarly would not have known that fact, and would have no basis, or reason, to try to point the finger at Dennis. Thus, Morris' prior representation of Dennis would not have caused him to act any differently than a non-conflicted attorney.
Ultimately, this Court cannot say that the state court's § 440 decision was an objectively unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent, in that Quinones has failed to prove that Morris labored under a conflict of interest, much less that such conflict caused Morris to forego some objectively reasonable alternative defense trial strategy.
C. It is Not Reasonably Probable that any Conflict Prejudiced Quinones' Case
It is well-settled Supreme Court precedent that "a defendant who shows that a conflict of interest actually affected the adequacy of his representation need not demonstrate prejudice in order to obtain relief." Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 349-50, 100 S.Ct. 1708, 1719 (1980); accord, e.g., Mickens v. Taylor, 535 U.S. 162, 122 S.Ct. 1237, 1244 (2002) ("prejudice will be presumed only if the conflict has significantly affected counsel's performance — thereby rendering the verdict unreliable, even though Strickland prejudice cannot be shown"). In its most recent decision on the issue of conflicts, however, the Court emphasized that it had never applied this presumption of prejudice outside the context of "multiple concurrent representation." Mickens v. Taylor, 122 S.Ct. at 1245. Indeed, the Court cautioned that its decision should not be "misconstrued" as extending the Sullivan rule to conflicts involving successive representation:
In resolving this case on the grounds on which it was
presented to us, we do not rule upon the need for the
Sullivan prophylaxis in cases of successive
representation. Whether Sullivan should be extended to
such cases remains, as far as the jurisprudence of
this Court is concerned, an open question.
Id. at 1245-46. The Supreme Court seemed to distinguish successive representation cases on the ground that the Sullivan presumption of prejudice only applied where "`a defendant shows that his counsel actively represented conflicting interests.'" Id. at 1245 (quoting Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. at 350, 100 S.Ct. at 1719) (emphasis added in Mickens). The Sixth Circuit recently stated that "[i]n the wake of Mickens, no court has applied the Sullivan presumption to a case of successive representation." Moss v. United States, 323 F.3d 445, 460 (6th Cir. 2003) (collecting cases).
In light of Mickens, "[t]here is . . . no `clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States' mandating reversal of a conviction on a mere showing of a conflict of interest involving successive representation that adversely affected the attorney's representation of his client." Montoya v. Lytle, No. 01-2318, 53 Fed. Appx. 496, 498, 2002 WL 31579759 at *2 (10th Cir. Nov. 20, 2002), cert. denied, No. 02-9835, 2003 WL 1825142 (May 19, 2003).*fn64 Accordingly, on habeas review, conflict claims involving successive, rather than concurrent, representation, must satisfy the Strickland standard for proving prejudice, i.e., petitioner must show "`a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different,'" Mickens v. Taylor, 122 S.Ct. at 1240 (quoting Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2068 (1984)). See Montoya v. Lytle, 2002 WL 31579759 at *2 (on habeas review, applying Strickland prejudice standard to conflict claim involving successive representation).
Applying Strickland, the Court agrees with the C.P.L. § 440 court's decision that there is no reasonable probability that any conflict of interest prejudiced the outcome of Quinones' case.*fn65 Prejudice is a close question here because a "reasonable probability" of prejudice is a relatively low standard (see page 37 n. 28 above). Given that the jury's deadlock required two Allen charges (see page 18 above), even a small amount of exculpatory evidence could have tipped the balance in favor of acquittal. The Court nevertheless concludes that no prejudice was likely, for the same reasons the Court found no likelihood of an adverse effect on Morris' representation. (See pages 73-77 above.) Simply put, because there is no admissible evidence that Dennis resembled Quinones, there would be little reason to think that accusing Dennis of the crime would help Quinones' case, where two eyewitnesses identified Quinones as the shooter. Quite the contrary, as explained above, accusing Dennis — and thus connecting Quinones to the murder weapon — would almost certainly have damaged Quinones' case.
While this Court might hold differently if presented with the question de novo, the Court cannot say that the state court's result was an objectively unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent.
For all these reasons, Quinones' conflict of interest ineffective assistance claim should be denied.
V. QUINONES' TRIAL ERROR INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CLAIMS
SHOULD BE DENIED
Quinones alleges a host of trial attorney errors, divided into seven
categories based on the subheadings in Quinones' First Department brief
on direct appeal: (1) failing to offer a coherent theory of the case
(Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 39-45); (2) failing
to object to the admission of multiple items of evidence —
especially hearsay and Deans' pretrial identification (id. at 45-46);
(3) asserting various ineffective arguments (id. at 46-47); (4) making
no attempt to obtain possibly favorable evidence from Deans' daughter
(id. at 48); (5) failing to object to several improper statements and
arguments in the prosecutor's summation (id. at 48-51); (6) failing to
object to improper jury instructions, particularly where testimony was
mischaracterized (id. at 51-52); and (7) trial counsel's aggregated
errors constitute ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the
Sixth Amendment even if the individual errors did not (id. at 53-58).
The Court begins with a short section on the proper procedure for
analyzing ineffectiveness claims where the allegedly ineffective
counsel is dead. There follows an analysis of each of Quinones' claims
under Strickland's first prong — deficient performance.
Specifically, taking each claim, seriatim, the Court analyzes whether
Quinones has shown that Morris erred, and concludes with an analysis of
whether any aggregated errors amount to deficient performance under
A. Analysis of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims Where Counsel
Were Morris alive today, this Court could convene a hearing at which Morris could testify regarding his trial strategy and the motives behind his actions at trial (for example, his failure to object to seemingly inadmissible testimony). Since Morris is unavailable to testify, however, a hearing is unnecessary. See, e.g., Henry v. Scully, 918 F. Supp. 693, 715 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) ("Normally, before finding counsel inadequate, an evidentiary hearing would be held, at which questions of strategy would be addressed. In this case, petitioner's trial counsel is deceased, and that is not possible." On the trial record, habeas court finds aggregate errors rendered counsel ineffective where there were no rational strategic grounds for counsel's actions.), aff'd, 78 F.3d 51 (2d Cir. 1996).*fn66
Since Morris' death precludes determination of his reasons for his actions (or inactions), this Court has no choice but to decide the issue based on the available evidence. See, e.g., United States v. Childress, 58 F.3d 693, 736 (D.C. Cir. 1995) ("We recognize that the district court's inquiry will be complicated immeasurably by [requested trial counsel's] death. We ask only that the district court examine the available evidence" to determine whether defendant was denied the right to counsel of choice.), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1098, 116 S.Ct. 825 (1996); Bullock v. Whitley, 53 F.3d 697, 701 (5th Cir. 1995) (Because trial counsel "is now deceased . . . [his] reasons for failing to investigate [petitioner's] mental state more thoroughly are now forever indeterminable. However, trial counsel's testimony is not necessary to our determination that a particular decision might be considered sound trial strategy."); Flores v. Keane, 211 F. Supp.2d 426, 446 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (rejecting petitioner's argument that court could not decide issue without affidavit from trial counsel; "among other reasons, trial counsel, Alvin Morris, is deceased, and the Court must `examine the available evidence,'" quoting Childress).
Morris' death, of course, does not relieve Quinones of the burden of overcoming the presumption that Morris' representation was competent. See, e.g., Slevin v. Unites States, 71 F. Supp.2d 348, 358 n. 9 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) ("[B]ecause the death of a petitioner's trial counsel is just as, if not more, likely to prejudice the respondent, it does not relieve the petitioner of his `heavy burden' of proving ineffective assistance."), aff'd, 234 F.3d 1263 (2d Cir. 2000).
B. Strickland's First Prong: Deficient Performance
1. Quinones' Claim that Morris' Theory of the Defense was "Incoherent"
Quinones asserts that Morris failed to have a "coherent theory of the defense." (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 39-45.)
The Second Circuit has consistently stated that the court will not "`second-guess matters of trial strategy simply because the chosen strategy has failed.'" Lake v. Portuondo, No. 00-2150, 14 Fed. Appx. 126, 128, 2001 WL 830583 at *1 (2d Cir. July 25, 2001), cert. denied, 535 U.S. 999, 122 S.Ct. 1565 (2002); accord, e.g., Smith v. Keane, No. 95-2480, 101 F.3d 1392, 1996 WL 364539 at *3 (2d Cir. July 2, 1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 969, 117 S.Ct. 396 (1996); United States v. DiTommaso, 817 F.2d 201, 215 (2d Cir. 1987). Rather, courts "must indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance," and must presume that counsel "made all significant decisions in the exercise of reasonable professional judgment." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 689-90, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2065-66 (1984); see United States v. Luciano, 158 F.3d 655, 660 (2d Cir. 1998) ("[A]n appellate court on a cold record should not second-guess [counsel's trial conduct] decisions unless there is no strategic or tactical justification for the course taken."), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1164, 119 S.Ct. 2059 (1999).
This Court has carefully read the entire trial transcript in this case. Contrary to Quinones' assertion, the Court finds that Morris pursued a competent (albeit ultimately unsuccessful) trial strategy of blaming Carter's death on competitors in the drug trade who then framed Quinones. (See, e.g., pages 9, 11-12, 15 above.) Cf. United States v. Thristino, No. 01-1155, 47 Fed. Appx. 7, 9, 2002 WL 31008776 at *1 (2d Cir. Sept. 9, 2002) ("it was reasonable for counsel to agree to admission of [drug-related] evidence in order to advance the theory that [defendant's] apartment mates, who were government witnesses and admitted drug users, were seeking to frame" defendant). Indeed, Quinones concedes that the strategy of showing that Carter was a drug dealer killed by other drug dealers was "reasonable," but that "the execution of the strategy . . . was incompetent," since it "was never supported by evidence." (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. B: Quinones 1st Dep't Reply Br. at 7.)
While Morris' presentation was far from elegant, and sometimes bordered on the inarticulate, the Court cannot say that his shortcomings were of a constitutional magnitude. See e.g., United States v. Hon, 17 F.3d 21, 26-27 (2d Cir. 1994) (counsel not ineffective, where counsel's "closing argument began with the following garbled statement: `The awesome majesty that has become the American bald eagle, yet, you must render unto Caesar only what justly belongs to Caesar, and it was the intention of our founding father that you use this rendition and temper it with reasonable doubt.'" Counsel's "comment was merely inarticulate" and his "argument as a whole was an effective one."); United States v. DiTommaso, 817 F.2d at 216 ("We have reviewed at length transcripts of trial counsel's cross-examination and summation. To put it charitably, neither performance furnishes a full model for aspiring advocates. On the other hand, we have not discovered any error of constitutional dimension.") (fn. omitted).
Quinones complains that Morris' opening statement promised to present witnesses proving that Carter had been killed by his partner in the drug business and that Quinones had been framed. (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 39-41.) That is inaccurate, as Morris never promised to present defense witnesses, as opposed to "showing" certain things. (Defense Opening: Tr. 395-96.) The decision as to whether to make an opening statement, and its scope, is a matter of trial strategy. See, e.g., United States v. Kortright, No. 99-1225, 205 F.3d 1326 (table), 2000 WL 232291 at *1 (2d Cir. Jan. 25, 2000) (rejecting ineffective counsel claim based on, inter alia, "the content of counsel's opening statement," "because displeasure with defense counsel's trial strategy is not sufficient to establish ineffectiveness under the stringent requirements of Strickland, . . . and because [petitioner] has not shown that trial counsel's assistance was unreasonable under all the circumstances"); United States v. Nersesian, 824 F.2d 1294, 1321 (2d Cir. 1987) ("[T]he decision whether to make an opening statement and when to make it is ordinarily a matter of trial tactics and strategy which will not constitute the incompetence basis for a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel."), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1061, 108 S.Ct. 1018 (1988); Cromwell v. Keane, 98 Civ. 0013, 2002 WL 929536 at *23 (S.D.N.Y. May 8, 2002) (Peck, M.J.) ("Counsel's decision not to make an opening statement may be attributed to counsel's trial tactics.") (citing cases). Moreover, consistent with his opening promise that "we will show you that the person who was killed was a drug dealer" (Tr. 395), Morris elicited evidence through cross-examination of the State's witnesses that Carter, in fact, was a drug dealer. (See pages 11-12 above.) Morris did not promise the jury that the defense would call witnesses, and the decision of what witnesses to call, or not call, is a strategic decision. See, e.g., United States v. Best, 219 F.3d 192, 201 (2d Cir. 2000) ("counsel's decision as to `whether to call specific witnesses — even ones that might offer exculpatory evidence — is ordinarily not viewed as a lapse in professional representation.'"), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 1007, 121 S.Ct. 1733 (2001); United States v. Smith, 198 F.3d 377, 386 (2d Cir. 1999) ("[C]ounsel's decision not to call witnesses to testify about [a particular question] cannot form the basis of a meritorious ineffective assistance claim. `The decision whether to call any witnesses on behalf of the defendant, and if so which witnesses to call, is a tactical decision of the sort engaged in by defense attorneys in almost every trial.'"), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 864, 121 S.Ct. 156 (2000); United States v. Luciano, 158 F.3d at 660 ("The decision not to call a particular witness is typically a question of trial strategy that appellate courts are ill-suited to second-guess."); Unites States v. Bruce, No. 97-1198, 97-1372, 159 F.3d 1348 (table), 1998 WL 538146 at *4 (2d Cir. Mar. 13, 1998) (decision not to call any witnesses did not support ineffective counsel claim, where evidence was obtained through cross-examination of government witnesses); United States v. Nersesian, 824 F.2d at 1321 ("The decision whether to call any witnesses on behalf of the defendant, and if so which witnesses to call, is a tactical decision of the sort engaged in by defense attorneys in almost every trial.").
Quinones also argues that Morris' inept cross-examination of Detectives Sheridan and Kaplan merely resulted in damaging testimony regarding Quinones' efforts to flee when being arrested. (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 42.) On direct, however, the detectives already had described Quinones' attempt to flee. (Sheridan: Tr. 601-02; Kaplan: Tr. 620-21.) One can hardly blame Morris for attempting to shake the detectives' story, even if that attempt backfired. See, e.g., Bilzerian v. United States, No. 96-2920, 125 F.3d 843 (table), 1997 WL 603470 at *2 (2d Cir. Sept. 30, 1997) ("Defense counsel's decisions were part of a reasonable trial strategy, that simply did not work. [On cross-examination, c]ounsel understandably tried to rebut damaging testimony, only to find their decision led to more harmful evidence. This decision does not fall below a level of reasonableness."), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1021, 119 S.Ct. 2365 (1999); see also Dunham v. Travis, 313 F.3d 724, 732 (2d Cir. 2002) ("Decisions about `whether to engage in cross-examination, and if so to what extent and in what manner, are . . . strategic in nature' and generally will not support an ineffective assistance claim."); United States v. Luciano, 158 F.3d at 660 ("[T]he conduct of examination and cross-examination is entrusted to the judgment of the lawyer, and an appellate court on a cold record should not second-guess such decisions unless there is no strategic or tactical justification for the course taken."); United States v. Nersesian, 824 F.2d at 1321 ("Decisions whether to engage in cross-examination, and if so to what extent and in what manner, are similarly strategic in nature.").
Quinones also complains that Morris failed to assert certain lines of argument in his summation. For example, one problem with Morris' "frame-up" theory was that, if Deans intended to frame Quinones by falsely identifying him at the lineup, she likely would have identified him at trial as well. (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 44.) In Quinones' view, Morris should have explained that Deans may have been unwilling to commit perjury, as her trial testimony was under oath but her lineup identification was not. (Id.) According to Quinones, Morris also failed to argue in summation that Scarlett's and Deans' testimony that they did not know each other was not credible, as they admitted that one was the girlfriend and the other the long-time friend of the same man, and Deans' daughter somehow knew where to find Scarlett to tell her that Carter had been shot. (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 44-45.) Further, Quinones claims that Morris failed to argue that Quinones fled from the officers because they were in plain clothes and thus were not recognizable as police officers. (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 45, 47.)
Morris' decision to forego all of these arguments, however, falls under the rubric of trial strategy. As the Supreme Court explained: "[t]here are countless ways to provide effective assistance in any given case. Even the best criminal defense attorneys would not defend a particular client in the same way." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 689, 104 S.Ct. at 2065. The Court cannot say that Morris' failure to assert the alternative arguments proffered by Quinones render Morris' performance ineffective.*fn67
This Court is, however, somewhat troubled by Morris' confusing summation regarding Deans' identification testimony. (See Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 43-44.) As noted above, Deans testified at trial that she was unable to identify the shooter in court, and seemed to explain her inability by stating that at the time of the murder she only saw a "profile" of the shooter. (Deans: Tr. 429 ("Q. You don't know? A. No. I just had sort of a profile.").) Morris could have argued to the jury not only that Deans could not identify Quinones as the shooter at trial, but that Deans' "profile" testimony also threw her lineup identification into doubt. By emphasizing the poor angle of her view of the shooting, Deans implied that she never got a good look at the shooter. If the angle of her view of the shooting — as opposed to the lapse of time — made it impossible for her to recognize the shooter in court, then her lineup identification may have had no basis.
Although Morris' summation emphasized Deans' inability to identify Quinones as the shooter in court (Defense Summation: Tr. 653-54), he seemed to state that Deans had testified that she had only seen a profile of Quinones in the lineup:
Now, the District Attorney showed [Deans] a
photograph which is in evidence which is People's 9, a
And what does she say to that? Do you recall her
saying this? And I could be wrong. It's your
recollection that counts, not mine.
You are the judges of the facts. And if there's any
dispute, just ask this gentleman here to read it back
to you, her testimony, Carol Deans. (Indicating)
She said she only looked at the profile. Remember
that word. The profile of the person in this lineup
seated in the third position. The profile.
A profile is not a face. It's part of a face, isn't
it? Or, has it changed since overnight? Since
overnight has it changed? I don't think so.
That's what that lady said.
Has there been any identification of my client being the
shooter in this case? By anyone? No. Absolutely not.
(Defense Summation: Tr. 655, emphasis added.)*fn68
Morris' apparent interpretation of Deans' testimony makes no sense. To explain her inability to identify Quinones in court, Deans stated that she "just had sort of a profile." (Deans: Tr. 429.) Why would she have referenced the poor viewing conditions at the lineup (without actually mentioning the lineup) in response to a question of whether the person sitting in front of her in court was the same person she saw commit a shooting? Indeed, the subject of the lineup was not even mentioned until later in Deans' testimony. (Deans: Tr. 429, 431.)
Although this Court has not been provided with a clear copy of the lineup photograph, this Court may take judicial notice of the fact that lineups do not generally consist solely of profile views. The testimony reveals that the individuals were "seated throughout the entire lineup." (Milian: H. 21, 56; Deans: Tr. 431; Milian: Tr. 533.) Had this been a profile-only lineup, presumably one of the witnesses to the lineup would have mentioned that fact. The jury also would immediately have seen that Morris' alternate interpretation made no sense, as the jury had access to the lineup photograph admitted into evidence that (presumably) showed a full-face view of each individual.
Although Deans' "profile" testimony was ambiguous, the most reasonable interpretation — and the one most helpful to the defense — was that she only had a profile of the shooter at the time of the shooting. By asserting that Deans only viewed Quinones' profile at the lineup, Morris missed a vital opportunity to question Deans' identification testimony. Because Morris' actions seems to have been based on a misinterpretation of testimony, this Court cannot simply excuse his actions as "trial strategy."*fn69
While Morris could have more effectively used Deans' testimony, ultimately Morris did get his point across. He reminded the jury that Deans could not make an in-court identification (Defense Summation: Tr. 653-54), posited that the lineup had been contaminated (referencing the "profile" testimony), and concluded that Quinones had not been identified by "anyone" as the shooter (Defense Summation: Tr. 655).*fn70 Morris' summation on this point could have been much better, but it was not objectively unreasonable.
Quinones' claim that Morris' theory of the defense was "incoherent" is really a collection of specific challenges to Morris' conduct. Morris' defense theory was clear and coherent — Quinones was not the shooter, no one identified him as the shooter, and Carter was a drug dealer who was killed by fellow drug dealers. The overall defense theory was coherent, albeit unsuccessful. The Court cannot say that the First Department's denial of this ground of Quinones' ineffective assistance claim was an "unreasonable application" of the Strickland standard.
2. Morris' Alleged Failure to Object to Admission of Evidence
Quinones asserts that Morris failed to object to the admission of multiple items of evidence. (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 31-38, 45-46.) On direct appeal, the First Department rejected all of Quinones' evidentiary claims as unpreserved: "[e]ach of defendant's contentions concerning the court's evidentiary rulings requires preservation (CPL 470.05 ), and we decline to review any of these unpreserved claims in the interest of justice." People v. Quinones, 272 A.D.2d 228, 229, 708 N.Y.S.2d 616, 616 (1st Dep't 2000). The First Department also held that Morris' "alleged deficiencies did not deprive [Quinones] of a fair trial." Id. at 229, 708 N.Y.S.2d at 616.
a. Morris' Failure to Object to Lineup Testimony Without Foundation
Quinones claims that Morris erroneously failed to object to the admission at trial of testimony regarding Deans' pretrial identification, where no foundation had been laid under C.P.L. § 60.25 that Deans could not identify the defendant at trial because of the passage of time or the defendant's changed appearance. (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 31-34, 45.)*fn71
The New York Court of Appeals has described the criteria for admitting testimony regarding a pre-trial identification pursuant to C.P.L. § 60.25, as follows:
The authorization contained in CPL 60.25 is specific
and limited. By its terms, CPL 60.25 does not allow
third-party testimony confirming a pretrial
identification by a nontestifying witness. Instead,
the statute expressly delineates preconditions and the
particular instances for the admission of previous
identification evidence, in the absence of
The witness who made the pretrial identification
must have testified to: (1) observing the defendant
"either at the time and place of the commission of the
offense or upon some other occasion relevant to the
case;" (2) observing, under constitutionally
permissible circumstances, "a person whom he
recognized as the same person whom he had observed on
the first or incriminating occasion;" and (3) being
"unable at the proceeding to state, on the basis of
present recollection, whether or not the defendant is
the person in question". . . .
People v. Patterson, 93 N.Y.2d 80
, 82, 688 N.Y.S.2d 101
, 103 (1999) (quoting C.P.L. § 60.25); accord, e.g., People v. Quevas, 81 N.Y.2d 41, 42-43, 595 N.Y.S.2d 721, 722 (1993).
"Central to the admissibility of third-party testimony under CPL 60.25 is the fact that the witness cannot state, `on the basis of present recollection,' whether or not defendant is the person in question." People v. Bayron, 66 N.Y.2d 77, 81, 495 N.Y.S.2d 24, 26 (1985). Although the statute does not define "present recollection," the New York Court of Appeals has long held that the statute "applies to a situation where the witness, due to lapse of time or change in appearance of the Defendant, cannot make an in-court identification, but has on a previous occasion identified the defendant." People v. Nival, 33 N.Y.2d 391, 394-95, 353 N.Y.S.2d 409, 411-12, cert. denied, 417 U.S. 903, 94 S.Ct. 2597 (1974); accord, e.g., People v. Bayron, 66 N.Y.2d at 81, 495 N.Y.S.2d at 26 ("CPL 60.25 has been applied in instances where the eyewitness has been unable to recognize defendant due to lapse of time or change in appearance") (collecting cases).*fn72
Deans' trial testimony was not sufficiently specific so as to satisfy the State's burden, as her inability to identify Quinones as the shooter was not ascribed to either lapse of time or a change in Quinones' appearance:
Q. The person that you saw talking to Lamont Carter
eventually firing the weapon, do you see him in
A. I don't know.
Q. You don't know?
A. No. I just had sort of a profile.
Q. Are you saying you are unable to identify him
today in court?
(Deans: Tr. 429.)
Q. . . . When you came into this court today you
indicated you couldn't say that this is the person
that you saw on the 31st of December, 1992,
A. That is true.
(Deans Tr. 433.) Nor did the trial court make a finding that Deans' inability to identify Quinones resulted from a failure of recall due to lapse of time.
In People v. Quevas, 81 N.Y.2d at 43-44, 595 N.Y.S.2d at 722, an eyewitness repeatedly answered "nope" in response to the question of whether his assailant was in the courtroom.
The Court of Appeals held:
The proper foundation was not laid for the admission
of the police officer's testimony as to the
complainant's out-of-court identification of the
defendant. Although it was their burden to do so, the
People did not establish the reason why the
complainant could not make an in-court
In order to lay a proper foundation under CPL 60.25
there must be testimony from the witness which
establishes a lack of present recollection of the
defendant as the perpetrator. . . . The evidence must
establish a lack of present recollection as a basis
for the lack of identification and not a fear of
identifying the defendant. . . . Here, the
identification testimony from the witness was
ambiguous and there was no basis for the court to make
a finding in accordance with CPL 60.25 that the
witness could not identify the defendant on the basis
of present recollection.
Moreover, the court did not make a finding that the
complainant had no present recollection of the
defendant. . . . It is possible, for example, that the
complainant could not identify defendant because (1)
he was physically or mentally incapable of doing so;
(2) he was too frightened to do so . . .; or (3)
defendant was not the perpetrator.
Id. at 45-46, 595 N.Y.S.2d at 723; accord, e.g., People v. Marte-Nuesi, 248 A.D.2d 555, 555-56, 669 N.Y.S.2d 866-67 (2d Dep't) ("[T]rial court erred by permitting a third party to testify as to the complainant's prior identification of the defendant as the perpetrator. The identification testimony from the complainant at trial was ambiguous, and there was no basis for the court to make a finding in accordance with CPL 60.25 that the complainant could not identify the defendant on the basis of present recollection. . . ."), appeal denied, 92 N.Y.2d 901, 680 N.Y.S.2d 65 (1998); People v. Morton, 189 A.D.2d 488, 495, 596 N.Y.S.2d 783, 788-89 (1st Dep't 1993) ("Upon being asked if she saw, in the courtroom, the two men who entered her apartment and robbed her, the complainant stated, `I don't see them'; `I really don't see them' and, `I'm sorry, your Honor, I don't see them'. At no time did she state that defendants were not the perpetrators. Nor is there any indication that she did not identify them for fear of reprisal. . . . As Quevas clearly holds, before a witness's testimony as to the complainant's out-of-court identification of the defendant may be admitted, a proper foundation, i.e., that the witness cannot identify the defendant on the basis of present recollection, must be laid. Our review of the record indicates that, while such a showing might well be made in this case, it was not on this record."); People v. Smith, 195 A.D.2d 265, 267, 599 N.Y.S.2d 582, 584 (1st Dep't 1993) (same; related case).*fn73
Deans did, of course, testify at trial that she witnessed the shooting (e.g., Deans: Tr. 421-22, 435), and also identified a photograph of the pretrial lineup, circling Quinones' picture as the individual she identified at the time of the lineup. (Deans: Tr. 431-32.) The State argues that Deans' trial testimony "acknowledg[ing]" her pretrial identification is the "plain equivalent of what Section 60.25 requires — a statement that the witness is `unable' to state whether the defendant is the perpetrator." (Dkt. No. 6: State Appendix Ex. C: State 1st Dep't Br. at 14.) The State, however, offers no authority to support this proposition, which seems contrary to the New York Court of Appeals' Quevas decision.
Nevertheless, Morris may have decided for strategic reasons to leave Deans' ambiguous testimony as is, rather than to object and risk more damaging testimony. After all, Deans had no difficulty picking Quinones' face from the lineup photograph at trial, and acknowledged picking Quinones at the lineup. Had Morris objected on C.P.L. § 60.25 grounds to the admission of testimony regarding the lineup, the State almost certainly would have elicited from Deans that her inability to recognize Quinones at trial was due to lapse of time. (See Dkt. No. 6: State Appendix Ex. C: State 1st Dep't Br. at 14.)*fn74 Further, had either the State or Morris inquired of Deans further, she might have cleaned up her ambiguous (but seemingly exculpatory) statement that she "just had sort of a profile." (Deans: Tr. 429.) Instead, Morris let Deans' testimony stand, and then emphasized on summation that: (1) Deans failed to identify Quinones at trial as the shooter, and (2) Deans' testimony that she only saw the shooter's "profile" threw her entire lineup identification into question.*fn75 Cf., e.g., United States v. Miguel, No. 97-1047, 122 F.3d 1058 (table), 1997 WL 557589 at *3 (2d Cir. Sept. 9, 1997) (attorney's failure to object to hearsay was a reasonable trial strategy given defendant's theory of the case); United States v. Brant, No. Civ. A. 91-5859 & 91-6673, Crim. 89-111-02 & 89-111-01, 1993 WL 313369 at *5 (E.D.Pa. July 30, 1993) (Attorney "was more reserved and subtle, preferring to leave that last, dangerous question unasked, so that the seed of doubt could be nurtured in summation."), aff'd, 27 F.3d 559 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 904, 115 S.Ct. 268 (1994).
Thus, the Court cannot say that Morris' decision not to object on C.P.L. § 60.25 grounds was not based on reasonable trial strategy. More importantly, the Court cannot say that the First Department's decision denying Quinones' ineffective assistance claim on this ground was an "unreasonable application" of the Strickland standard.
b. Morris' Failure to Object to Police "Bolstering" Testimony
Morris failed to object to Detective Milian's testimony that he looked for Quinones in order to place him in a lineup after speaking to Scarlett, Deans, and other detectives. (Milian: Tr. 525-26.) According to Quinones, "[t]he inevitable inference which the jury must have drawn from this testimony was that there was information from unspecified sources identifying the defendant as the man who had committed the shooting." (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 34-36, 45.)
The relevant testimony is as follows:
Q. Upon receiving the assignment regarding the Lamont
Carter homicide investigation [on December 31,
1992], what did you do?
A. I responded to the location and I coordinated with
detectives and officers that were at the
Q. Did you have occasion at some point later that day
to speak to anybody?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Who did you speak to?
A. Police Officer Ramos.
Q. Did you also have occasion — aside from
Officer Ramos, did you speak to any other
A. Yes. Several.
Q. And, did you have occasion to speak to any
civilians on that date as pertaining to that
Q. Who was that?
A. I spoke to Marion Scarlett.
Q. Where was it you spoke to her?
A. We spoke to her in the 25 Precinct.
Q. And, did there come a time that you spoke to Carol
A. Yes, there was.
Q. When was that that you personally spoke to her?
A. It was approximately January 3rd of 1993.
Q. Now, with regard to Ms. Scarlett, did you have
occasion to speak to her again?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. When was that?
A. I spoke to her March 1st of '93, also.
Q. Now, after speaking to Ms. Scarlet, to Ms. Deans,
and the other detectives, did there come a point
in time in March of 1993 that you wanted to see
the defendant in this case?
A. Yes, there was.
Q. For what purpose did you want to see the defendant
at that time?
A. I wanted to put him in a corporeal lineup.
Q. What efforts did you make to find the defendant in
order to put him in that corporeal lineup?
A. I canvassed the Lincoln Projects area where he was
purportedly sighted and spoke to his wife.
Q. When did you speak to her?
A. April 1, 1993.
(Milian: Tr. 524-26, emphasis added.)
New York courts have long held that police witnesses may not "bolster" a witness' identification of a defendant by testifying that hearsay conversations between the police and the witness led to the defendant's arrest, even if, as here, the connection between the conversation and the arrest is only "implicit" or "inferential." See People v. Holt, 67 N.Y.2d 819, 820, 501 N.Y.S.2d 641, 642 (1986) ("It was also error to permit a police officer to testify, over objection, that he had arrested the defendant after conferring with the eyewitness. Although such implicit bolstering may not have warranted reversal in and of itself . . ., the testimony should be excluded upon proper objection at the retrial."); People v. Martinez, 209 A.D.2d 641, 642, 619 N.Y.S.2d 134, 135 (2d Dep't 1994) ("it was error to permit the back-up officer to testify, over objection, that he had identified the defendant after conferring with the undercover detective who had observed the perpetrator, because such testimony constitutes improper bolstering"), appeal denied, 85 N.Y.2d 911, 627 N.Y.S.2d 334 (1995); People v. Bryan, 179 A.D.2d 667, 668, 578 N.Y.S.2d 608, 609-10 (2d Dep't) ("The arresting officer testified that he charged the defendant with the robbery after the complainant gave certain responses to questions during the lineup. Although the arresting officer did not reveal any answers given by the complainant, this testimony was improperly admitted since it implicitly bolstered the complainant's testimony."), appeal denied, 80 N.Y.2d 829, 587 N.Y.S.2d 913 (1992).*fn76
A small number of decisions have allowed such testimony on the ground that it merely supported the "narrative of events" leading up to the arrest. See People v. Vanier, 255 A.D.2d 610, 610, 680 N.Y.S.2d 877, 877-78 (2d Dep't 1998) ("The defendant was convicted of robbing the complainant of two chains. A detective testified that after he had a conversation with the complainant, the investigation focused on the defendant. Then, the detective later testified that the defendant was arrested. The defendant now contends that this testimony constitutes impermissible bolstering, requiring reversal. Because the defendant at no time objected to this testimony, his claim is unpreserved for appellate review. . . . In any event, this testimony `merely served as a necessary narrative of events leading to [the] defendant's arrest.' . . ."), appeal denied, 93 N.Y.2d 903, 689 N.Y.S.2d 715 (1999); People v. Stansberry, 205 A.D.2d 317, 317-18, 613 N.Y.S.2d 6, 7 (1st Dep't) (Rejecting bolstering claim. "During cross-examination of the victim defense counsel elicited testimony that defendant was arrested after the victim spoke to a police officer. The brief and restricted testimony by a police officer that he spoke to the victim, and that defendant was arrested afterward, merely served as a necessary narrative of events leading to defendant's arrest."), appeal denied, 84 N.Y.2d 910, 621 N.Y.S.2d 528 (1994); People v. McClain, 176 A.D.2d 521, 522, 574 N.Y.S.2d 712, 712 (1st Dep't 1991) (Although "the arresting officer testified that he spoke with the victim before arresting defendant, . . . the confrontation clause is not implicated in this case as no statement by the victim was introduced at trial. Rather, the arresting officer's testimony at trial was merely that he arrested defendant after interviewing two eyewitnesses and the victim, and conducting further investigation. Furthermore, the People presented the two eyewitnesses to the shooting, who were long-term acquaintances of defendant and unequivocally identified defendant as one of the shooters, as well as corresponding spent shells recovered from the scene. Thus, even on an `implied bolstering' theory, there is no likelihood that the jury might have substituted the officer's brief testimony for that of the eyewitnesses, or that it in any way contributed to the verdict . . . ."), appeal denied, 79 N.Y.2d 950, 583 N.Y.S.2d 204 (1992).
While the issue is a close one, the Court cannot find that Morris erred by failing to object. First, Detective Milian testified that he sought out Quinones "after speaking to Ms. Scarlet, to Ms. Deans, and the other detectives." (Milian: Tr. 526, emphasis added.) This reference to conversations with other detectives reduced the danger that the jury would connect the eyewitness conversations with the arrest. See People v. McClain, 176 A.D.2d at 522, 574 N.Y.S.2d at 712 (police "arrested defendant after interviewing two eyewitnesses and the victim, and conducting further investigation").*fn77
Second, Morris may have reasonably chosen not to object in order to avoid highlighting the testimony, which the jury likely failed to notice (as it consisted of only a single, fleeting, reference) and which was not later emphasized in the State's summation.*fn78 The Court cannot say that the First Department's decision denying Quinones' ineffective assistance claim on this ground was an "unreasonable application" of the Strickland standard.
c. Morris' Failure to Object to Hearsay that the "Puerto Rican Did It"
Quinones asserts that Morris erred by failing to object to Officer Ramos' testimony that he heard an unidentified woman at the crime scene yell "something like": "`The Puerto Rican did it. The Puerto Rican shot him.'" (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 36-37, 45, citing Ramos: Tr. 575-81.)
The State does not even attempt to argue that this statement was admissible (Dkt. No. 6: State Appendix Ex. C: State 1st Dep't Br. at 18), as it consisted of hearsay from an unknown declarant with no indicia of reliability. See, e.g., People v. Alexander, 173 A.D.2d 296, 298, 569 N.Y.S.2d 689, 691 (1st Dep't 1991) (Reversible error to permit police officer "to testify that the crowd outside the complainant's apartment building told [the officer] that they had seen defendant [in burglary case] climb out of the second floor window onto the fire escape." "Although the spontaneous declaration exception to the hearsay rule applies to statements made by bystanders as well as participants, where, as here, there is no proof of the identity of the declarants or of whether they had an `adequate opportunity to observe' the event, it is error to permit such testimony.")(citations omitted); People v. Lopez, 123 A.D.2d 399, 399-400, 506 N.Y.S.2d 600, 601 (2d Dep't 1986) ("error was committed by the trial court when it . . . allowed a police officer to testify that certain individuals at the scene of the incident, who did not testify at the trial, identified the defendant as the perpetrator"), aff'd, 69 N.Y.2d 975, 976, 516 N.Y.S.2d 660, 660 (1987).
Instead, the State maintains that Morris' "decision to refrain from objecting to this testimony most probably was a strategic one, to permit the jury to hear this possibly exculpatory material." (State 1st Dep't Br. at 18.) Scarlett testified that the man — whom she identified in court as Quinones — speaking to Carter prior to the shooting was "light-skinned Spanish." (Scarlett: Tr. 474.) Although Deans testified on direct examination that the shooter was "very fair-skinned" (Deans: Tr. 427), on cross examination she stated that the shooter's hair was "shaved off," like "an average Black man" (Deans Tr. 452). In the State's view, the hearsay that a "Puerto Rican" did the shooting served as further "[c]onflicting testimony as to the shooter's race." (State 1st Dep't Br. at 18.) The State therefore argues that it was reasonable for Morris to highlight this conflicting testimony, and, at minimum, admission of the statement did not harm Quinones' case. (State 1st Dep't Br. at 18.)
The State's theory is patent nonsense. As the State notes elsewhere in its First Department brief (State 1st Dep't Br. at 27), Morris argued on summation that Deans' cross-examination testimony that the shooter was a "Black man" exculpated Quinones, who was apparently a "light-skinned Hispanic"*fn79 (Defense Summation: Tr. 659).*fn80 Further, Morris attempted to impeach Officer Ramos as to the "Puerto Rican" statement by eliciting that the "alleged" statement was not contained in Ramos' notes, questioning whether Ramos really could remember such an oral statement three years after the fact, and noting that the police had failed to detain the woman who "allegedly" made the statement. (Ramos: Tr. 578-83.) Clearly, Morris' strategy was not to embrace the veracity of Ramos' hearsay statement. Indeed, given Scarlett's testimony regarding a "light-skinned Spanish" man (Scarlett: Tr. 474), Deans' direct testimony regarding a "very fair-skinned" man (Deans: Tr. 427), and Quinones' Hispanic surname and evident appearance as a "light-skinned Hispanic" (Defense Summation: Tr. 659), it could hardly have benefitted Quinones' case to admit further eyewitness testimony through Officer Ramos that the shooter was Hispanic, i.e., a "Puerto Rican" (Ramos: Tr. 575-76).
It is true that a reasonable attorney sometimes refrains from objecting to damaging testimony, where the statement itself is fleeting and might have escaped the jury's notice, and the objection and any ensuing curative instruction would only highlight the damaging testimony. (See cases cited at page 103 n. 78 above.) In this case, however, Officer Ramos' hearsay testimony was more than a fleeting reference that would have escaped the jury's notice. (Ramos: Tr. 575-76.) More importantly, on cross-examination, Morris went to great lengths to attack Ramos' memory of the statement (Ramos: Tr. 578-83), thus highlighting the damaging testimony to the jury (and, in the process, ensuring that the jury understood the testimony to be inculpatory). It appears that Morris had absolutely no strategic reason not to have objected to the statement's admission and ask for a curative instruction.*fn81
Nevertheless, the Court cannot say that this error (by itself) prejudiced Quinones. Scarlett identified Quinones at trial as the person having a discussion with Carter some five to ten minutes before the shooting, and Deans identified Quinones in a lineup (but not at trial) as the shooter. There really was no doubt as to the shooter's ethnicity — just whether or not the Hispanic shooter was Quinones. The hearsay that "the Puerto Rican shot" Carter added little or nothing to the case. This error (standing alone) was not prejudicial.
d. Morris' Failure to Object to Testimony that Quinones was Arrested
by Members of the Career Criminal Apprehension Unit
Quinones claims that Morris erred by failing to object to Detective Milian's testimony that Quinones was arrested by the "Career Criminal Apprehension Unit." (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 45, citing Milian: Tr. 527.) As the trial judge later noted, the name of the unit might suggest to the jury that defendant is a "career criminal." (Tr. 593.)
Morris should have anticipated from identical statements at the Wade hearing that this testimony would arise at trial. (Milian: H. 31; Balzan: H. 41.) There is no doubt that an objection (or better, a pretrial motion in limine) would have been sustained, as the judge: (1) expressed "surprise" that Morris "didn't raise [the issue] earlier" (Tr. 592); and (2) once Morris raised the issue, ordered the State to avoid the "career criminal" testimony going forward (Tr. 592-94).
e. Morris' Failure to Object to Scarlett's Testimony that the Shooter
Quinones asserts that Morris erred by failing to object to Scarlett's "conclusory" testimony that the man talking to her boyfriend prior to the shooting was "upset." (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 45, citing Scarlett: Tr. 476.) The Court disagrees, as this appears to be the sort of "lay opinion" that courts commonly deem admissible. See Blake v. People, 73 N.Y. 586 (1878); People v. Roldan, 211 A.D.2d 366, 369, 627 N.Y.S.2d 1014, 1016 (1st Dep't 1995) ("lay opinion is properly received in evidence. Familiar examples, given in Richardson, Evidence § 364 (Prince 10th ed), are whether a person is angry or jesting, vigorous or feeble, sober or intoxicated, the estimated age of another, the genuineness of handwriting, the identity of a briefly seen perpetrator or his telephone voice, etc."), aff'd, 88 N.Y.2d 826, 643 N.Y.S.2d 960 (1996); 33 N.Y. Jur.2d Criminal Law, § 1987 (2002) ("A lay witness may testify as to his impressions of the emotional state of another person, including his observations as to whether such person seemed nervous, excited, angry, or feigning anger."); see also 4 Weinstein's Federal Evidence § 701.02 at p. 701-6 (2d ed. 2003) (same rule for lay opinion under Federal Rules of Evidence). Thus Morris did not err in failing to object, since the testimony was not objectionable.
f. Morris' Failure to Object to Deans' Hearsay Statements at Lineup
Quinones claims that Morris erred by failing to object when Detective Milian testified that when Deans saw the lineup, "she immediately began to shake, and she said `Oh, my God. Oh, my God. It's him." (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 45-46, citing Milian: Tr. 531.) As Quinones points out (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 46), Morris should reasonably have anticipated such trial testimony given that the detective testified to the same effect at the Wade hearing (Milian: H. 19-20). Thus, the State cannot reasonably argue that Morris decided not to object in order to avoid emphasizing the damaging testimony.
It is not clear, however, that such testimony was objectionable. In People v. Grubbs, 112 A.D.2d 104, 492 N.Y.S.2d 377 (1st Dep't), appeal denied, 66 N.Y.2d 615, 494 N.Y.S.2d 1037 (1985), a detective testified at trial that the victim, upon recognizing her alleged attacker at a subway station several days after the attack, "became very, very nervous," "started breathing heavy, saying, `oh my God,'" "appeared to have gone into shock," and "was standing very stiff, shaking. Her mouth was wide open. Her eyes were wide open." 112 A.D.2d at 104-05, 492 N.Y.S.2d at 378. The First Department reversed:
The sole reason for eliciting [the detective's]
observations of the complainant's physical reactions
upon viewing the accused was to bolster her
identification testimony. The admission of such
testimony was error. (People v. Trowbridge, 305 N.Y. 471,
113 N.E.2d 841.) It is of no consequence that the
detective described only the physical reaction of the
complainant and did not relate any oral statement or
contemporaneous utterance made by her at the time of
the arrest. (People v. Mobley, 56 N.Y.2d 584,
450 N.Y.S.2d 302, 435 N.E.2d 672.). The witness'
statements to the effect that the complainant became
nervous and upset and appeared to go into shock were
undoubtedly meant to convey complainant's fear and
revulsion upon confronting the person who had sexually
assaulted her. As such, his testimony tended to
reinforce the trustworthiness of the complainant's
in-court identification of defendant as the
perpetrator, the sole testimony on that issue
presented by the prosecution on its direct case.
Id. at 105, 492 N.Y.S.2d at 378-79.
The Grubbs holding, however, appears to be based on the inadmissibility of pre-trial identification testimony to bolster an identification at trial, as evidenced by the authorities cited. Similarly, in People v. Echavarria, 167 A.D.2d 138, 140, 561 N.Y.S.2d 226, 227 (1st Dep't 1990) (the only relevant decision cited by Quinones in this or the state proceeding), counsel was found ineffective because, along with a host of other errors, he failed to object "[w]hen the prosecutor asked the witness for her reaction upon seeing defendant's photograph, she stated that she started crying and `got chills up and down my body.'" That holding, again, appears to have been based solely on the inadmissibility of bolstering pre-trial identification testimony.
Here, by contrast, pre-trial identification testimony was properly admissible, as noted at Point V.B.2.a above. Thus, this Court cannot conclude the Morris erred by failing to object. See, e.g., United States v. Arena, 180 F.3d 380, 396 (2d Cir. 1999) ("Failure to make a meritless argument does not amount to ineffective assistance."), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 811, 121 S.Ct. 33 (2000); Aramas v. Donnelly, 99 Civ. 11306, 2002 WL 31307929 at *14 & n. 25 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 15, 2002) (Peck, M.J.) (same, collecting cases).
3. Quinones' Claim That Morris Asserted Ineffective Arguments
Quinones assigns a variety of errors to Morris' performance at the Wade hearing. (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 46-47.) There is no need to catalog these alleged errors, however, as there is no reasonable probability that they affected the outcome; the evidence was overwhelming in favor of admitting Scarlett's and Deans' identification of Quinones. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 697, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2069 (1984) ("there is no reason for a court deciding an ineffective assistance claim . . . to address both components of the [ineffective counsel] inquiry if the defendant makes an insufficient showing on one.").
Quinones also complains that although Morris asked both Scarlett and Deans to describe the shooter's height, he failed to actually put Quinones' height on the record. (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 47.) Quinones' complaint is without basis. When Scarlett described the shooter as "[t]aller than" herself (i.e., over five feet, six inches), Morris asked Quinones to stand up. (Scarlett: Tr. 490-91.) Scarlett then stated "[h]e seemed taller to me" (Scarlett: Tr. 491), effectively distinguishing Quinones from the shooter. Deans, by contrast, described the shooter as "tall" — "5'6", 5'7"." (Deans: Tr. 427, 435-36.) Morris may have decided that since Quinones was, in fact, 5'6", it would not help his case to record Quinones' actual height on the record. Certainly, the jury was able to observe Quinones' actual height, even if his height is not recorded for purposes of the appellate (and habeas) record. There is no error here.
4. Quinones' Claim that Morris Failed to Call Key Witnesses
Quinones argues that Morris erred by failing to call Deans' daughter, who "might have testified that the shooter was not Quinones." (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 48, emphasis added.) Specifically, Quinones asserts that Morris "informed the judge that [Deans'] daughter had told him that Quinones was not the person who did the shooting." (Id., citing Tr. 448.) Despite this, the daughter's "name was not on the list of possible witnesses prior to voir dire." (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 48, citing Tr. 22.)
Quinones is mistaken as to both the facts and the law. As to the facts, it is far from clear that the daughter told Morris that Quinones was not the shooter. On hearsay grounds, the judge quashed Morris' question to Deans: "[a]re you aware of the fact that your daughter said that this is not the person who was there at the time?" (Deans: Tr. 446-48.) Subsequently, outside the jury's presence, Morris explained to the judge that "[h]er daughter spoke with me." (Deans: Tr. 447.) That is not a clear statement by Morris that the daughter gave an exculpatory statement. Indeed, Morris' questions to Deans could have been nothing but a crafty effort to put doubt in the jurors' minds where no real exculpatory evidence existed. On summation, Morris convincingly argued that Deans' daughter "really knew who the shooter was," thus implying that the prosecution was hiding the truth by failing to call her. (Defense Summation: Tr. 663-64.)
Moreover, Quinones has come forward with no other evidence — such as an affidavit from the daughter — proving that the daughter could exonerate Quinones or would have been willing to testify.*fn82 "A petitioner may not merely allege that certain . . . witnesses `might' have supplied relevant testimony, but must state exactly what testimony they would have supplied and how such testimony would have changed the result." Rosario v. Bennett, 01 Civ. 7142, 2002 WL 31852827 at *33 & n. 59 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 20, 2002) (Peck, M.J.) (citing cases); see, e.g., Lawrence v. Armontrout, 900 F.2d 127, 130 (8th Cir. 1990) ("To affirmatively prove prejudice [from counsel's failure to investigate], a petitioner ordinarily must show not only that the testimony of uncalled witnesses would have been favorable, but also that those witnesses would have testified at trial. Moreover, if potential trial witnesses are not called to testify at a postconviction review hearing, the petitioner ordinarily should explain their absence and `demonstrate, with some precision, the content of the testimony they would have given at trial.'") (citations omitted); Lou v. Mantello, No. 98-CV-5542, 2001 WL 1152817 at *10 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 25, 2001) ("Habeas claims based on `complaints of uncalled witnesses are not favored, because the presentation of testimonial evidence is a matter of trial strategy and because allegations of what a witness would have testified [to] are largely speculative.'") (citations omitted).*fn83
"[C]ounsel's decision as to `whether to call specific witnesses — even ones that might offer exculpatory evidence — is ordinarily not viewed as a lapse in professional representation.'" United States v. Best, 219 F.3d 192, 201 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting United States v. Schmidt, 105 F.3d 82, 90 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 846, 118 S.Ct. 130 (1997)), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 1007, 121 S.Ct. 1733 (2001); accord, e.g., United States v. Smith, 198 F.3d 377, 386 (2d Cir. 1999) ("`The decision whether to call any witnesses on behalf of the defendant, and if so which witnesses to call, is a tactical decision of the sort engaged in by defense attorneys in almost every trial.'"), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 864, 121 S.Ct. 156 (2000). Especially given the lack of proof that Deans' daughter would have provided exculpatory testimony, this Court cannot conclude that Morris' decision not to call her constituted ineffective assistance.*fn84
5. Quinones' Claim that Morris Failed to Object to the State's Improper
Quinones faults Morris for failing to object to a number of allegedly improper statements and arguments in the prosecutor's summation. (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 48-51.)
a. Morris' Failure to Object to the Prosecutor's Statement that
Quinones Could Have Called Deans' Daughter as a Witness
Quinones claims that Morris erred by failing to object to the prosecutor's improper statement implying that Quinones had the obligation to call Deans' daughter as a witness — effectively shifting the burden of proof:
[Deans] didn't tell you about her daughter. She
doesn't want her daughter involved in this.
Well, if her daughter knew something differently,
[Morris] certainly knew where to find her based on his
cross examination. And if he wanted her here, he could
subpoena her here.
(State Summation: Tr. 679, cited in Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 50.)
The prosecutor's statement does not appear to violate the federal constitution. Although the government may not "suggest that the defendant has any burden of proof or any obligation to adduce any evidence whatever" Unites States v. Parker, 903 F.2d 91, 98 (2d Cir. 1990), the
prosecutor is entitled to comment on a defendant's
failure to call witnesses to contradict the factual
character of the government's case, as well as his
failure to support his own factual theories with
witnesses. A constitutional violation occurs only if
either the defendant alone has the information to
contradict the government evidence referred to or the
jury `naturally and necessarily' would interpret the
summation as a comment on the failure of the accused
United States v. Bubar, 567 F.2d 192
, 199 (2d Cir.) (citations omitted), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 872
, 98 S.Ct. 217
(1977); accord, e.g., United States v. Salameh, 152 F.3d 88
, 136 (2d Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1112, 119 S.Ct. 885 (1999); United States v. Caccia, 122 F.3d 136, 140 (2d Cir. 1997); United States v. Yuzary, 55 F.3d 47, 53 (2d Cir. 1995); United States v. McDermott, 918 F.2d 319
, 327 (2d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 500 U.S. 904
, 111 S.Ct. 1681
(1991). Thus, "there is no deprivation of a defendant's constitutional rights by permitting the jury to draw an adverse inference against him for his failure to call an available material witness," where the witness was available to both prosecution and defense. United States v. Caccia, 122 F.3d at 140; accord, e.g., United States v. Munoz, No. 95-1070, 122 F.3d 1057 (table), 1995 WL 595088 at *2 (2d Cir. Sept. 14, 1995) ("[I]f both parties had access to the uncalled witness, `the failure to produce is open to an inference against both parties.' . . . The prosecutor's suggestion that the jury draw this inference against the defendant was not improper."); United States v. Nichols, 912 F.2d 598
, 601-02 (2d Cir. 1990); Marchese v. Senkowski, No. 97-CV-2055, 1999 WL 731011 at *10-11 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 15, 1999).
It is unclear whether New York has a similarly expansive rule.*fn85 Even if the prosecutor's statement would not ordinarily be permissible under New York law, however, Morris' statements "opened the door," rendering the prosecutors statement unobjectionable. Both in his cross-examination of Deans (Deans: Tr. 442-48) and Detective Milian (Milian: Tr. 540-41) and in his summation (Defense Summation: Tr. 662-64), Morris implied that the State was hiding Deans' daughter, "the person who really knew who the shooter was in this case" (Tr. 663). Under New York law, the prosecutor had the right to respond by pointing out that Morris had subpoena power as well. See People v. Youmans, 292 A.D.2d at 648, 738 N.Y.S.2d at 757 ("the prosecution may comment upon the failure to present a certain witness where it is a fair response to defense counsel's summation"), appeal denied, 98 N.Y.2d 704, 747 N.Y.S.2d 423 (2002); People v. Guillebeaux, 229 A.D.2d 399, 399, 645 N.Y.S.2d 59, 60 (2d Dep't) ("The prosecutor's comments about the defendant's failure to present a certain alibi witness were a fair response to defense counsel's own summation and a fair comment within `the four corners of the evidence'. . . . In addition, defense counsel made his own summation comments on the subject, and, in fact, spoke about the alibi witness's absence at greater length than did the prosecutor."), appeal denied, 88 N.Y.2d 1021, 651 N.Y.S.2d 20 (1996); People v. Brown, 216 A.D.2d 670, 674, 628 N.Y.S.2d 211, 215 (3d Dep't) ("The prosecution's reference to [witness'] failure to testify at trial was not unduly prejudicial given that such comments were made in response to defense counsel's similar comments during his summation."), appeal denied, 86 N.Y.2d 791, 632 N.Y.S.2d 504 (1995); People v. Mackey, 52 A.D.2d 662, 662, 381 N.Y.S.2d 1004, 1005 (3d Dep't 1976) ("Defendant first contends that the prosecutor made prejudicial statements in his summation in that he referred to the subpoena power of the defendant's attorney. These remarks to the jury must be evaluated in their relationship to the defense attorney's summation which had just been concluded. . . . Defense counsel implied that the People failed to call certain witnesses because their testimony would have been damaging to the People's case. In view of counsel's suggestions to the jury that the prosecutor had engaged in improper conduct, the prosecutor's statement regarding defendant's subpoena powers was not improper.").
Because the prosecutor's statement was not improper, it was not error for Morris to refrain from objecting.
b. Morris' Failure to Object to the Prosecutor's Assertion That
Morris Failed to Support The Factual Theories He Espoused in his
In a similar vein, Quinones argues that Morris should have objected to the prosecution's assertion "that the defense had failed to produce evidence to support the opening statement contention that Carter was a drug dealer killed by his partner." (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. 119 at 50, citing Tr. 672-73.) While it is true that it would have been objectionable for the prosecutor to assert that Quinones failed to sustain some burden of producing evidence,*fn86
a close reading of the state's summation reveals that the State never claimed that defendant bore the burden of proof, but merely pointed out that no evidence supported Morris' theories:
Now, I want to talk a little bit about what Mr.
Morris has talked about. I submit to you he's raised a
number of what I submit are nonissues.
First of all, with regard to Ed Smith — this
is . . . in his opening — he was going to
demonstrate to you that this was a drug dealer who was
killed by his partner and that his partner in essence
had this defendant framed.
There isn't a bit of evidence of that whatsoever in
this case. Pure speculation. Pure surmise.
Did you hear one bit of evidence that said that this
deceased was killed by somebody else and that they
brought in Carol Deans and Marion Scarlett to
participate in this frame?
There isn't a bit of evidence whatsoever about that. He
promised you the world. He delivered nothing.
(State Summation: Tr. 672-74.)
While the final statement about Morris "deliver[ing] nothing" may have skated along the thin line of propriety, it was not objectionable for the State to point out that the evidence did not support Morris' theories. See, e.g., United States v. Bautista, 23 F.3d 726, 733 (2d Cir.) ("[T]he government may comment on a defendant's failure to call witnesses to support his factual theories. The government may not, however, go further and suggest that the defendant has the burden of producing evidence. The challenged [prosecutor's] statement, although inapt, when considered in context would not have been understood by a reasonable jury as anything more than an argument that the jury need not believe uncorroborated defense theories."), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 862, 115 S.Ct. 174 (1994). Accordingly, Morris cannot be faulted for failing to object. See, e.g., Franza v. Stinson, 58 F. Supp.2d 124, 148-49 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (Kaplan, D.J. & Peck, M.J.) (counsel not ineffective for failing to object to unobjectionable summation by prosecutor) (collecting cases); see also, e.g., Rosario v. Bennett, 01 Civ. 7142, 2002 WL 31852827 at *35 & n. 61 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 20, 2002) (Peck, M.J.) ("counsel cannot be faulted for failure to make a meritless objection" to an unobjectionable jury charge) (collecting cases). This is especially true in light of the trial court's clear instructions to the jury that the prosecution had the burden of proof and the "defendant is never required to prove anything." (Charge: Tr. 710-17.) See, e.g., Lugo v. Kuhlmann, 68 F. Supp.2d 347, 369-70 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (Peck, M.J.) (collecting cases).
c. Morris' Failure to Object to the Prosecutor's Repeated Distortions
of the Record on Summation
Quinones asserts that Morris failed to object to the prosecutor's repeated distortions of the record on summation. (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 48-51.) The New York Court of Appeals has described the standard for reviewing prosecutor summations:
[A]lthough counsel is to be afforded `the widest
latitude by way of comment, denunciation or appeal in
advocating his cause' summation is not an unbridled
debate in which the restraints imposed at trial are
cast aside so that counsel may employ all the
rhetorical devices at his command. There are certain
It is fundamental that the jury must decide the
issues on the evidence, and therefore fundamental that
counsel, in summing up, must stay within `the four
corners of the evidence' and avoid irrelevant comments
which have no bearing on any legitimate issue in the
case. Thus the District Attorney may not refer to
matters not in evidence or call upon the jury to draw
conclusions which are not fairly inferable from the
evidence. Above all he should not seek to lead the
jury away from the issues by drawing irrelevant and
inflammatory conclusions which have a decided tendency
to prejudice the jury against the defendant.
People v. Ashwal, 39 N.Y.2d 105, 109-10, 383 N.Y.S.2d 204, 206-07 (1976) (citations omitted) (conviction reversed because "prosecutor's [summation] remark definitely conveys the impression that [informant] was killed by those he had informed upon, one of whom was this defendant"; prosecutor may not "try to convey to the jury, by insinuation, suggestion or speculation, the impression that the defendant is guilty of other crimes not in issue at the trial"); see, e.g., People v. Galloway, 54 N.Y.2d 396, 399, 446 N.Y.S.2d 9, 11 (1981) ("the prosecutor's characterization, in summation, of the defense's contention that the witness . . . possessed a gun as a `smokescreen' or `a red herring' and his aspersions on the credibility of the defendant's and [another witness'] testimony did not exceed the broad bounds of rhetorical comment permissible in closing argument").*fn87
The first statement that Quinones finds objectionable (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 48) could fairly be described as merely ambiguous: "that's what Carol Deans and Marion Scarlett did. They recognized the defendant in this courtroom and at the lineup." (State Summation: Tr. 676). Quinones argues that the prosecutor's statement is false because Deans actually failed to identify Quinones in court. (Deans: Tr. 429.) However, the prosecutor's summation statement referred to both Deans and Scarlett, and Scarlett did identify Quinones at trial, while Deans identified him at the lineup. (See pages 8, 10 above.) More importantly, soon after making the above statement, the prosecutor sought to explain why Deans had not identified Quinones at trial (State Summation: Tr. 681-84), thus clearing up any ambiguity or misstatement.*fn88
Quinones also complains about the State's assertion that "[i]f a drug dealer wants to get rid of the opposition, they kill them. They don't get the law involved in terms of framing somebody else." (State Summation: Tr. 673; Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 50.) While the State's assertion as to the normal practice of drug dealers was not based on evidence in the record, it was within the bounds of fair comment on the evidence and the defense's arguments.
Quinones also finds improper (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 50) the State's hypothesis that although Scarlett estimated that ten to fifteen minutes elapsed between the time she saw Quinones with Carter and the time of the shooting, the elapsed time was actually "a minute or two," because the "trauma" of "losing her boyfriend" made the "incident seem much longer [to Scarlett] than it really was." (State Summation: Tr. 690, 680.) The State's theory, while of dubious validity (given that the "trauma" to Scarlett took place after the lapse of time, not before it), was a fair comment on the evidence, as the State accurately described Scarlett's testimony, and merely hypothesized why Scarlett may have been mistaken.
Finally, Quinones claims (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 51) that Morris should have objected to the following:
But what most corroborates [the eyewitness
identification testimony] is the defendant's action on
August 20th of 1993 when Detective Sheridan and
Detective Kaplan and their colleagues arrived at the
And I submit to you when this defendant saw those
people approaching, he made them for police officers.
You know, it's not too difficult to make plain clothes
cops for who they are.
He knew what they were there for. He recognized
them. Those are cops. He knew what they were. And
that's why he bolted.
. . . His running away was the confirmation of the
identification by Carol Deans and Marion Scarlett.
If he wasn't the killer, if some other person out
there did it, what's he running for? He doesn't even
know why the cops have arrived yet if he's innocent.
(State Summation: Tr. 692-93.)
Prior to the arrest, detectives had told Quinones' wife that they were seeking Quinones in order to place him in a lineup in connection with the shooting. (Milian: Tr. 526-27.) The prosecutor's statement was fair comment on the evidence: it was a fair inference from the evidence that Quinones, who knew the police were looking for him, recognized the plain clothes detectives as police; thus his flight could be considered an indication of guilt.
d. Morris' Failure to Object to the Prosecutor's Statement That
Because Of Her Fear, Deans Did Not Come Forward Sooner, Did
Not Mention that her Daughter Saw the Shooting, and Was Unable
to Identify Quinones as the Shooter
Quinones asserts that the prosecutor had no evidentiary basis for claiming that Deans failed to talk to the police at the scene because she was afraid, and failed to testify on direct regarding her daughter being present because she was trying to protect her daughter. (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 48-50, citing State Summation: Tr. 676-78.) In addition, Quinones asserts that the statements were improper because state courts have reversed convictions where the prosecution has even implied that the defendant had threatened witnesses.*fn89
In this case, however, the prosecutor merely stated that Deans failed to mention her daughter because she was "being protective . . . [s]he did not want her daughter involved in this." (State Summation: Tr. 677-79.) As for Deans herself not contacting the police earlier, the prosecutor explained that Deans
was nervous and upset. She really did not want to be
forced on that witness stand. Nobody wants to
Think of yourselves when you're being voir dired in
this case. Many of you I'm sure were a little nervous
when we were questioning you.
That's different than being a witness, a witness who
basically has to confront the person she saw do the
. . . She was traumatized by what happened. She was
scared of what happened. And she certainly wasn't
going to run forward in front of everybody in the
street and say "I saw this," and take whatever risk
that that entails.
(State Summation: Tr. 678-79.) The statement that Deans was afraid of coming forward because of "whatever risk that that entails" appears to merely state the obvious — that witnesses to criminal acts commonly may be nervous about getting involved.
Quinones also faults Morris for failing to object when the prosecution claimed that Deans failed to identify Quinones in court because of "fear":
So, there's no reason for [Deans] to lie. But
certainly if she was going to lie, if she was hell
bent on getting the defendant, the way you do it is
come into this court and say "Yeah; that's the man I
saw doing the shooting."
Instead what happened, I submit to you, just like at
the lineup, she froze. She was scared.
(State Summation: Tr. 681-82.)
The prosecutor's statement was patently improper, as the First Department explained in identical circumstances:
It was blatantly improper for the prosecutrix to
suggest that the victim's inability to make an
in-court identification was due to fear, not an
inability to recognize, especially since the People
had been permitted, pursuant to CPL 60.25, to
introduce third-party testimony about a prior
out-of-court identification by the victim. Third-party
testimony of a prior out-of-court identification may
not be admitted where the eyewitness's failure to make
an in-court identification is predicated on
fear. . . . Thus, the People would have it both ways,
utilizing the CPL 60.25 exception based on the
victim's present inability to recognize the
perpetrator and, at the same time, suggesting that
the victim's failure to make an identification was
due to fear.
People v. Weeks, 156 A.D.2d 133
, 134, 548 N.Y.S.2d 179, 180 (1st Dep't 1989), appeal denied, 75 N.Y.2d 819
, 552 N.Y.S.2d 569 (1990).*fn90
Morris, however, did object to the prosecutor's assertion regarding Deans' failure to identify Quinones, and was promptly overruled. (State Summation: Tr. 682.)*fn91 The prosecutor then went on to develop, in some detail, his unsupported theory that Deans "suppressed" her memory of the shooting out of fear: "I submit to you in her trauma and her fear she suppressed her recollection of the defendant. She did not want to remember. And so, two years ago after that lineup she suppressed it. But it was fear and fright that made her unable to identify the defendant in this court." (State Summation: Tr. 682-84.) While these statements were certainly objectionable, Morris can hardly be faulted for failing to lodge yet another objection so soon after the trial court overruled his earlier objection to the same line of reasoning. See, e.g., Bennett v. Angelone, 92 F.3d 1336, 1349 (4th Cir.) ("[R]efraining from objecting to avoid irritating the jury is a standard trial tactic."), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1002, 117 S.Ct. 503 (1996); Bussard v. Lockhart, 32 F.3d 322, 324 (8th Cir. 1994) ("Counsel's decision to object during the prosecutor's summation must take into account the possibility that the court will overrule it and that the objection will either antagonize the jury or underscore the prosecutor's words in their minds. Thus, the question we have to ask is not whether the prosecutor's comments were proper, but whether they were so improper that counsel's only defensible choice was to interrupt those comments with an objection. In this case, defense counsel's decisions not to object to the comments were reasonable.").
6. Quinones' Claim that Morris Failed to Object to the Trial Court's
Erroneous Marshaling of the Evidence
Quinones faults Morris for failing to object to the trial judge's allegedly erroneous marshaling of the evidence during the jury charge. (Dkt. No. 1: Pet. Ex. A: Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 51-52.)
In the main jury charge, the court stated that: "Ms. Scarlett testified that within minutes of his being shot, the defendant was having some kind of a dispute or agitated discussion with the deceased, Lamont Carter." (Charge: Tr. 742.)*fn92
Quinones' principal objection to this language has some limited substance.*fn93 Scarlett testified that after Carter exited a pizza parlor, "[h]e stopped to talk to someone" (Scarlett: Tr. 473-75), although Scarlett could not "hear what it was they were discussing at all" (id. 475). Scarlett approached Carter, "pulled on his sleeve and said that [she was] ready to go to the supermarket." (Scarlett: Tr. 475-76.) This caused Quinones to become "upset":
A. . . . Because [Carter] had turned his attention to
me and he was answering back to me, you know,
about what I said.
Q. Who was answering back to you?
A. [Carter] was talking back to me, and the person he was
talking to [Quinones] got agitated like.
Q. What did the defendant do?
A. He said like "Yo, I'm talking to you, man." And he
said — and [Carter] answered him "Just
cool, you know. I'm talking to my lady," and "Hold
Q. Now, you indicated the defendant got angry when
[Carter] turned his attention to you, is that
Q. What do you mean he got "agitated"? What did he
do, the defendant?
A. He had his hands in his pockets. "I'm talking to
you, man, you know; we're talking," and sort of
(Scarlett: Tr. 476-79.)
Based on Scarlett's testimony, one could construe Quinones' annoyance as a normal response to being rudely interrupted — not the kind of exchange that would normally motivate a murder. As Quinones explained, "[t]he more hostile the tone of the conversation, the more credible the inference that Quinones bore ill will towards Carter and might have shot him." (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 52.)*fn94 Nevertheless, the court's charge language — "some kind of a dispute or agitated discussion" — cannot be deemed erroneous. Scarlett did, after all, repeatedly describe Quinones as "agitated," and Quinones' verbal altercation could reasonably be described as a "dispute." By modifying the "dispute or agitated discussion" language with the phrase "some kind of," the court described a myriad of possibilities. Accordingly, while the charge may have failed to capture the flavor of Scarlett's testimony, the language was not truly erroneous, and thus Morris' failure to object cannot be deemed error.
However, this Court is troubled by Morris' own repeated and gratuitous references to the Quinones-Carter discussion as an "argument," both in Morris' summation (Defense Summation: Tr. 658, 666-67) and cross-examination of Scarlett (Scarlett: Tr. 488, 490, 491, 495, 497). (See Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 44.) Indeed, Morris highlighted the hostile nature of the "argument" by lamely noting to the jury that "[t]here was never any threats of violence." (Defense Summation: Tr. 667.) Instead of arguing that Quinones' alleged "agitation" was a normal display of annoyance in response to a rude interruption and hardly a motivation for murder, Morris put the worst possible spin on the situation, apparently based on Detective Milian's Wade hearing testimony (Milian: H. 13-14).*fn95 Decisions made out of ignorance of the relevant testimony cannot be characterized as "strategic" under Strickland. See, e.g., Pavel v. Hollins, 261 F.3d 210, 218 n. 11 (2d Cir. 2001). Morris should have at least advocated an interpretation that helped, rather than undermined, his client's case.
Quinones also claims that Morris erred by not objecting to the court's charge regarding the timing of Deans' pretrial identification. (Quinones 1st Dep't Br. at 52.) In its main jury charge, the court stated:
The evidence is that the crimes charged were
committed on December 31, 1992. This trial is now
being held some 2-1/2 years later.
It is, therefore, relevant to establish that shortly
after the commission of the crimes charged while the
witness' memory was, perhaps, fresher than at
present, Carol Deans picked out and identified this
defendant, Edgar Quinones, as the perpetrator of the
crime at a lineup.
The People contend that such [prior identification]
evidence is reliable because of the proximity of the
identification to the event. . . .
However, the defendant contends that the witness
Carol Deans did not actually identify the defendant
but made a mistake in the identification of the
defendant by identifying merely a profile.
(Charge: 744-46, emphasis added.)
Immediately after delivering the main jury charge, and in response to a request by Morris that the court emphasize Deans' inability to make an in-court identification, the court delivered a supplemental charge providing, in relevant part:
[W]hen I spoke of the identification by Ms. Deans, I'm
referring to the identification that she made at the
lineup of August 20th of 1993. . . .
As you are all aware, [Ms. Deans] made no in-court
identification when she testified here two days ago,
but she did indicate her identification which was made
eight months after the event in August of 1993.
(Charge: Tr. 753.)*fn96
The court accurately described the lineup as taking place eight months after the shooting. However, the court's characterization of that lapse of time as "shortly after the commission of the crimes charged while the witness' memory was, perhaps, fresher than at present" was erroneous. (Charge: Tr. 745.) The Supreme Court has held that "a lapse of seven months between the [crime] and the confrontation . . . would be a seriously negative factor in most cases." Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188, 201, 93 S.Ct. 375, 383 (1972). By effectively characterizing the lapse of time as insignificant, the court precluded the jury from reasonably questioning the "freshness" of Deans' identification so long after the shooting. Morris' error in not objecting to this aspect of the charge was compounded by his failure to raise the timing issue in his summation.*fn97
7. Morris' Aggregated Errors Did Not Amount to Deficient Performance
As noted above (see page 38), any counsel errors must be considered in the "aggregate" rather than in isolation, as the Supreme Court has directed courts "to look at the `totality of the evidence before the judge or jury.'" Lindstadt v. Keane, 239 F.3d 191
, 199 (2d Cir. 2001) (quoting Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668
, 695-96, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2069 (1984)). Morris' errors included the following: (1) failing to object to Officer Ramos' testimony that he heard an unidentified woman at the crime scene yell: "`The Puerto Rican did it'" (Point V.B.2.c above); (2) failing to object to Detective Milian's testimony that Quinones was arrested by the "Career Criminal Apprehension Unit" (Point V.B.2.d above); (3) repeatedly describing the discussion between Quinones and Carter as an argument (Point V.B.6 above); and (4) failing to object to the jury charge characterizing Dean' lineup identification as taking place "shortly after" the shooting (Point V.B.6 above).
Strickland, of course, teaches that "[j]udicial scrutiny of counsel's performance must be highly deferential." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689, 104 S.Ct. at 2065. "[A] court must indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance; that is, the defendant must overcome the presumption that, under the circumstances, the challenged action `might be considered sound trial strategy.'" Id.
Even if Morris' actions resulted from error rather than strategy, trial counsel's performance must still be accorded a certain degree of deference, as the Sixth Amendment does not guarantee "error-free, perfect representation," Morris v. Garvin, No. 98-CV-4661, 2000 WL 1692845 at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 10, 2000), but merely a "wide range of professionally competent assistance," Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689, 104 S.Ct. at 2065. Quinones must show that Morris "made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the `counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687, 104 S.Ct. at 2064; see Smith v. Robbins, 528 U.S. 259, 284, 120 S.Ct. 746, 763 (2000) ("`We address not what is prudent or appropriate, but only what is constitutionally compelled.'") (quoting United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 665, n. 38, 104 S.Ct. 2039, 2050 n. 38 (1984)); Burger v. Kemp, 483 U.S. 776, 794, 107 S.Ct. 3114, 3126 (1987) (same); Castro-Poupart v. United States, No. 91-1877, 976 F.2d 724 (table), 1992 WL 240655 at *2 (1st Cir. Sept. 30, 1992) ("Effective assistance is not necessarily error free assistance.); Lancaster v. Newsome, 880 F.2d 362, 375 (11th Cir. 1989) ("petitioner was not entitled to error-free representation, only representation that fell within the range of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases"); United States v. Di Tommaso, 817 F.2d 201, 216 (2d Cir. 1987) (although, "[t]o put it charitably," trial counsel's performance did not "furnish a full model for aspiring advocates," it did not fall outside the "wide range of reasonable professional assistance"); Wise v. Smith, 735 F.2d 735, 739 (2d Cir. 1984) (defendant "was not entitled to a perfect defense, and the cumulative effect of the errors and omissions that we might find do not amount to a denial of effective assistance of counsel"); Larrea v. Bennett, 01 Civ. 5813, 2002 WL 1173564 at *26 (S.D.N.Y. May 31, 2002) (Peck, M.J.), report & rec. adopted, 2002 WL 1808211 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 6, 2000) (Scheindlin, D.J.); Solomon v. Commissioner of Correctional Servs., 786 F. Supp. 218, 226 (E.D.N.Y. 1992) ("Although petitioner's counsel undoubtedly made certain errors, this record indicates that viewed in the context of the entire record, he did a reasonable job.").
In the related context of what constitute "cause" for a procedural complaint, the Supreme Court has pointed out that there is some level of attorney mistake that, though prejudicial to the defendant, does not amount to ineptitude of constitutional proportions:
[T]he mere fact that counsel failed to recognize the
factual or legal basis for a claim, or failed to raise
the claim despite recognizing it, does not constitute
cause for a procedural default. At least with respect
to defaults that occur at trial, the Court of Appeals'
holding that ignorant or inadvertent attorney error is
cause for any resulting procedural default is plainly
inconsistent with Engle. It is no less inconsistent
with the purposes served by the cause and prejudice
So long as a defendant is represented by counsel whose
performance is not constitutionally ineffective under
the standard established in Strickland v. Washington,
supra, we discern no inequity in requiring him to bear
the risk of attorney error that results in a
Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478
, 486-88, 106 S.Ct. 2639, 2644-45 (1986).*fn98
The Court, as noted above, has read the entire trial transcript. Clearly, Morris was no Clarence Darrow or Arthur Liman. But judged in context and without the benefit of hindsight, Morris' aggregated errors did not constitute ineffective assistance in violation of Quinones' Sixth Amendment rights. Moreover, applying the AEDPA standard, this Court cannot say that the First Department's rejection of Quinones' ineffective counsel claims constituted an objectively unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent. See Jones v. Stinson, 229 F.3d 112, 121 (2d Cir. 2000) (although Second Circuit might have found error had question been presented on direct review, under deferential AEDPA standard the appellate division's ruling was held not objectively unreasonable).
For the foregoing reasons, Quinones' habeas claims should be DENIED. However, because the questions of whether Morris' alleged conflict or trial performance constituted ineffective assistance of counsel are not altogether free of doubt, even when reviewed under the deferential AEDPA review standard, the Court should issue a certificate of appealability. See, e.g., Miller-El v. Cockrell, 123 S.Ct. 1029, 1039 (Feb. 25, 2003) ("§ 2253(c) permits the issuance of a COA only where a petitioner has made a `substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.'" The statute "does not require a showing that the appeal will succeed. Accordingly, a court . . . should not decline the application for a COA merely because it believes the applicant will not demonstrate an entitlement to relief."); Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 475, 120 S.Ct. 1595, 1599 (2000) (certificate of appealability should issue where "reasonable jurists could debate whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved in a different manner or that the issues presented were `adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further'"); Lucidore v. New York State Div. of Parole, 209 F.3d 107, 112 (2d Cir.) (certificate of appealability should issue "if the issues involved in a petition are debatable among jurists of reason, could be resolved in a different manner, or are adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further"), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 873, 121 S.Ct. 175 (2000).
FILING OF OBJECTIONS TO THIS REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties shall have ten (10) days from service of this Report to file written objections. See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 6. Such objections (and any responses to objections) shall be filed with the Clerk of the Court, with courtesy copies delivered to the chambers of the Honorable William H. Pauley III, 500 Pearl Street, Room 2210, and to my chambers, 500 Pearl Street, Room 1370. Any requests for an extension of time for filing objections must be directed to Judge Pauley. Failure to file objections will result in a waiver of those objections for purposes of appeal. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 106 S.Ct. 466 (1985); IUE AFL-CIO Pension Fund v. Herrmann, 9 F.3d 1049, 1054 (2d Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 822, 115 S.Ct. 86 (1994); Roldan v. Racette, 984 F.2d 85, 89 (2d Cir. 1993); Frank v. Johnson, 968 F.2d 298, 300 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1038, 113 S.Ct. 825 (1992); Small v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 892 F.2d 15, 16 (2d Cir. 1989); Wesolek v. Canadair Ltd., 838 F.2d 55, 57-59 (2d Cir. 1988); McCarthy v. Manson, 714 F.2d 234, 237-38 (2d Cir. 1983); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72, 6(a), 6(e).