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DIAZ v. GOORD

February 2, 2004.

CARLOS DIAZ, Petitioner against GLENN S. GOORD, Superintendent of Auburn State Correctional Facility, Respondent


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JACK WEINSTEIN, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM, JUDGMENT & ORDER

The petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied. Counsel for petitioner was appointed in this court primarily to address the claim that petitioner was not competent to stand trial. See order of August 27, 2003. A prior order had denied counsel. See order of October 19, 2001.

State trial counsel submitted an affirmation on October 26, 2003 in support of the position that the petitioner was competent to stand trial and did, in fact, receive effective assistance of counsel. The record supports those conclusions.

  Although a hearing was scheduled, upon reading all the papers, it is apparent that no hearing on this matter is necessary. This memorandum briefly addresses petitioner's claims.

  During the pendency of these proceedings petitioner was apparently awaiting deportation. See petitioner's letter filed February 14, 2001.

 I. Facts and Procedural History

  Petitioner was arrested after participating in the sale, on several occasions, of a large Page 2 amount of cocaine and heroin to an undercover police officer. The evidence of his guilt was overwhelming. It included the testimony of the undercover officer and a series of inculpatory audiotaped conversations among the officer, petitioner and his co-defendant.

  Petitioner was convicted of two counts of first degree sale of a controlled substance (cocaine); two counts of first degree possession of a controlled substance (cocaine); one count of third degree sale of a controlled substance (heroin); and one count of third degree possession of a controlled substance (heroin). Because some of the sentences were to run consecutively, petitioner's total sentence was 48-1/3 years to life in prison.

  Petitioner appealed through counsel. He also was allowed to file a supplemental pro se brief. His conviction was affirmed on appeal, but in the interest of justice the Appellate Division ordered his terms of imprisonment to run concurrently, yielding a total sentence of 20 years to life in prison. Leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals was denied.

  He filed a pro se application for a writ of error coram nobis before the Appellate Division. The motion was denied.

  Petitioner filed two separate pro se motions to vacate judgment before the trial court. The motions were denied. One motion was incorporated into his direct appeal. In the other motion leave to appeal to the Appellate Division was denied.

  In his application for a writ of habeas corpus, petitioner claims:

  Ground One: petitioner deprived of fair trial and due process of law as petitioner was mentally incompetent to stand trial. Petitioner suffers from mental illness, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, and is delusional, both before and at the time of Page 3 trial, therefore, incompetent to understand the charges against him and/or to aid and assist his counsel, or to participate in the proceedings had against him, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Ground Two: The petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel before, during and after trial. Trial counsel failed to make proper motions to bring about a competency hearing, especially in light of petitioner's psychiatric hospitalizations, where petitioner was declared "unfit" by psychiatrists, to proceed, due to a complete psychiatric "breakdown" prior to trial.

 
Ground Three: The petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel upon his direct state appeal. The appellate counsel for the defendant (petitioner), upon his direct appeal, failed to properly raise the issue of competency; ineffective trial counsel; to raise any question based upon the federal constitution, at all; and failed to competently advocate the petitioner's primary appealable points, upon the direct state appeal, thus denying petitioner effective assistance of counsel and due process of law (U.S. Const. 5, 6, & 14th Amend).
  Ground Four: The petitioner was denied and deprived of a fair trial, a public trial and due process of law, by the improper closure of the courtroom, during testimony by the People's witnesses. The Page 4 petitioner was denied due process of law, a public trial, and a fair trial, when the trial court improperly ordered closure of the courtroom during testimony by the People's witnesses, in violation of the petitioner United States Constitutional rights (Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments).

 II. AEDPA

  Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), a federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus to a state prisoner on a claim that was "adjudicated on the merits" in state court only if it concludes that the adjudication of the claim "(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(d).

  An "adjudication on the merits" is a "substantive, rather than a procedural, resolution of a federal claim." Sellan v. Kuhlman, 1 F.3d 303, 313 (2d Cir. 2001) (quoting Aycox v. Lytle, 196 F.3d 1174, 1178 (10th Cir. 1999)). Under the "contrary to" clause, "a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme Court] on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than this Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts," Williams v, Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000) (O'Connor, J., concurring and writing for the majority in this part). Under the "unreasonable application" clause, "a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court Page 5 identifies the correct governing legal principle from this Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id. at 413. Under this standard, "a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable." Id. at 411. In order to grant the writ there must be "some increment of incorrectness beyond error," although "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." Francis S. v. Stone, 221 F.3d 100, 111 (2d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted).

  "[F]ederal law, as determined by the Supreme Court, may as much be a generalized standard that must be followed, as a bright-line rule designed to effectuate such a standard in a particular context." Overton v. Newton, 295 F.3d 270, 278 (2d Cir. 2002); see also Yung v. Walker, No. 01-2299, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 28137 (2d Cir. Aug. 1, 2003) (amended opinion) (district court's habeas decision that relied on precedent from the court of appeals is remanded for reconsideration in light of "the more general teachings" of Supreme Court decisions). The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has also indicated that habeas relief may be granted if a state court's decision was contrary to or an unreasonable application of "a reasonable extension" of Supreme Court jurisprudence. Berbary v. Torres, No. 02-2463, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 16167, at *25 (2d Cir. Aug. 7, 2003). Determination ...


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