The opinion of the court was delivered by: GABRIEL GORENSTEIN, Magistrate Judge
Following a plea of guilty to one count of Criminal Possession of a
Controlled Substance in the Second Degree in New York County Supreme
Court, Alberto Martinez was sentenced as a second felony offender to a
prison term of six years to life. He now brings this petition for writ of
habeas corpus pro se pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The parties have
consented to the exercise of jurisdiction over this petition by a United
States Magistrate Judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons
below, the petition is denied.
In March 1998, Martinez was indicted for Criminal Possession of a
Controlled Substance in the First Degree and related charges in
connection with a drug sale turned shoot-out which occurred in Martinez's
apartment. See Martinez's Appellate Brief, dated May 2001 ("App. Brief")
(annexed to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, filed April 22, 2003
(Docket #2) ("Petition")), at 3; Plea: Tr. 3, 7-9. During this incident,
Martinez was shot in the face and three
other participants also sustained gunshot wounds. App. Brief at 3;
Respondents' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus, filed September 3, 2003 (Docket #ll)("Resp. Opp."), at 2.
On August 19, 1999, Martinez appeared with counsel before the Honorable
Ronald A. Zweibel of the New York County Supreme Court for a pre-trial
hearing. See generally Transcript of Plea Hearing Conducted August 19,
1999 (Docket #10). Martinez was represented by Alfredo Hernandez, a
court-appointed lawyer. Petition at 1. Apparently, plea discussions had
been ongoing over the entire one-and-a-half-year period since the case
was first indicted. (Plea: Tr. 3). Defense counsel stated to the court
that he had "had extensive conversations with Mr. Martinez" and that he
had explained to Martinez that various people had made statements against
him; Felix Pabon, a participant in the crime, would likely testify
against him; cocaine had been recovered from outside Martinez's
apartment; and his fingerprints had been lifted from one of the bricks of
cocaine. (Plea: Tr. 3). If convicted as charged, Martinez faced a minimum
sentence of fifteen years to life, (Plea: Tr. 2), and a maximum of
twenty-five years to life, (Plea: Tr. 5). Nonetheless, defense counsel
reported that Martinez had been "completely recalcitrant" in
participating in the plea discussions. (Plea: Tr. 3).
As of August 19, 1999, all other individuals involved in the incident
had pled guilty. (Plea: Tr. 4). The Assistant District Attorney stated on
the record that she was offering Martinez a sentence of six years to life
in return for a plea of guilty to Criminal Possession of a Controlled
Substance in the Second Degree in full satisfaction of the indictment.
(Plea: Tr. 3-4, 7). She made it clear that this was the best offer she
was allowed to make and that the offer would be revoked as soon as the
pre-trial hearing began. (Plea: Tr. 9). She explained her offer based on
the facts that "this defendant arranged a drug deal for three kilos
of cocaine, in a residential area. . . . As a result . . . four people
were shot. . . . He has three prior felony convictions." (Plea: Tr. 7-8).
After consulting with Martinez, defense counsel reported to the court
that Martinez was rejecting the offer and was prepared to proceed with
the hearing. (Plea: Tr. 9). The first witness was called to the stand but
before he could be sworn in, defense counsel asked the court to "hold on
just a second" so he could consult with Martinez. (Plea: Tr. 10).
Thereafter, Martinez's counsel stated that Martinez was withdrawing his
plea of not guilty and entering a plea of guilty. (Plea: Tr. 10-11).
During the subsequent allocation, Martinez acknowledged that he had
discussed his case and plea with his attorney, that he understood he was
waiving certain constitutional rights, and that he was pleading guilty of
his own free will. (Plea: Tr. 11-12). The court asked him: "Are you
pleading guilty because you are, in fact, guilty of this crime?" Martinez
replied "Yes, sir." (Plea: Tr. 12).
The court asked Martinez if he understood that a plea had the same
effect as if he had been convicted after a trial, to which Martinez
responded that he did. (Plea: Tr. 12-13). Martinez also stated that he
understood the charge he was pleading to and that no one had forced him
to enter into the plea. (Plea: Tr. 13). The court then repeated the
nature of the charge Criminal Possession of a Controlled
Substance in the Second Degree and the following colloquy ensued:
THE COURT: It is alleged that the defendant,
Alberto Martinez[,] . . . in the County of New
York, on or about March 15th, 1998, knowingly and
unlawfully possessed one or more preparations,
compounds, mixtures and substances
containing a narcotic drug; to wit, cocaine, and said
preparations, compounds, mixtures and substances are
of an aggregate weight of two ounces or more. Do you
plead guilty to that charge?
(Plea: Tr. 13-14). The clerk officially recorded the plea and the case
was scheduled for sentencing on September 1, 1999. (Plea: Tr. 14-15).
A few days later, Martinez filed a pro se motion to withdraw his plea
that annexed an affidavit. See Notice of Motion, dated August 24, 1999,
and Affidavit of Alberto Martinez, dated August 25, 1999 ("Martinez Aff")
(both annexed as Ex. A to Resp. Opp.). Both the Notice of Motion and
affidavit were "fill-in-the-blank" forms inasmuch as lines appear where
case-specific information, such as the defendant's name, docket number,
and dates, needs to be filled in. Martinez filled in some of these lines
but left blank a large space provided for him to fill in the specific
facts supporting his motion. Martinez Aff. ¶ 5.
The affidavit form states that the affiant is "not fully aware of the
circumstances involved when he made such guilty plea," that he "plead
[sic] guilty for reasons which are outside the record," that "he was
unaware of the fact that he has a good meritorious defense to the
prosecution," and that "he is not guilty of the offense." Martinez Aff.
¶¶ 4-7. The affidavit also contained a statement that "defendant . . .
was fully aware of the consequences of his plea of guilty." Id. ¶
6. Martinez's counsel later explained that this was a ...