The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN GLEESON, District Judge
Petitioner Jeffrey Mack seeks habeas relief from a judgment of
conviction entered after a jury trial in state court. I held oral
argument on February 27, 2004. For the reasons set forth below, the
petition is denied.
On February 4, 1996, Mack shot Anthony Davenport twice, seriously
injuring him. Davenport had known Mack for many years and provided the
police with his name and the area where he lived. Police officers were
unable to locate Mack, and so issued a "wanted card." Mack was later
arrested on April 21, 1998, when officers, who were aware that Mack was
wanted, went to his home to investigate a domestic violence report filed
by Mack's father. At the time of the arrest, officers recovered from
Mack's bedroom a gun case, a holster, a gun catalog, and three wallets
containing various forms of identification. While at the precinct, Mack
asked the officers why they had taken only the gun case and not the
ammunition. Also, when told that he had been arrested for the Davenport
shooting, Mack asked the officer why it had taken the police two years
to catch him.
Mack was charged with one count each of attempted murder and criminal
possession of a weapon in the second degree, and two counts each of
assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the
third degree. Mack moved to suppress the property recovered by police
officers at his home, as well as his statements to officers at the
precinct on the grounds that the officers lacked probable cause to
arrest him and that the statements were made without the benefit of
Miranda warnings. After a hearing, the court denied Mack's
motion, holding that the property was recovered incident to a lawful
arrest, and that Mack's statements were spontaneously made.
(See Dec. 4, 1998 Hr'g at 189-91.)
On July 29, 1999, a jury convicted Mack of all charges.*fn1 The court
sentenced him, as a second felony offender, to concurrent prison terms
of fifteen years for the attempted
murder, ten years for each count of assault and for second-degree
weapon possession, two to four years for the first count of third-degree
weapon possession, and five years for the second count of third-degree
In June 2000, Mack perfected his direct appeal to the Appellate
Division, Second Department. In his brief, Mack argued that (1) the
items seized from his bedroom were not contraband or the
instrumentalities of a crime and were seized in violation of his
constitutional rights; (2) he was denied his constitutional right to a
fair trial by the erroneous admission into evidence of the gun box,
holster, and gun catalog; and (3) he was denied his due process right
to a fair trial by the prosecutor's summation. The Appellate Division
affirmed the judgment of conviction on August 20, 2001, stating:
We agree with the determination of the hearing
court that the items seized from the defendant's
bedroom should not have been suppressed. The items
were properly seized pursuant to the "plain view"
doctrine, and properly recovered in a search
incident to a lawful arrest. The defendant's
contention that the trial court erred in admitting
the items into evidence on the ground of relevancy
is unpreserved for appellate review since he
failed to raise the issue before the trial court.
The defendant's remaining contentions are either
unpreserved for appellate review or without merit
People v. Mack, 730 N.Y.S.2d 437
, 437-38 (2d Dep't 2001)
(citations omitted). Mack's application for leave to appeal to the New
York Court of Appeals was denied on December 19, 2001. People v.
Mack, 97 N.Y.2d 684 (2001) (Ciparick, J.).
In the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Mack claims that
(1) his conviction was obtained through the use of evidence seized
pursuant to an unlawful arrest; (2) the evidence recovered from his
bedroom should have been suppressed because it was unlawfully seized and
should not have been admitted at trial because it was irrelevant to the
crimes with which he was charged and was admitted only to establish
his propensity for violence; and (3) the prosecutor's summation deprived
him of a fair trial.
A. The Standard of Review
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA")
has narrowed the scope of federal habeas review of state convictions
where the state court has adjudicated a petitioner's federal claim on
the merits. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Under the AEDPA
standard, which applies to habeas petitions filed after AEDPA's
enactment in 1996, the reviewing court may grant habeas relief only if
the state court's decision "was contrary to, or involved an
unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States."
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). The Supreme Court has interpreted the phrase "clearly
established Federal law" to mean "the holdings, as opposed to the
dicta, of [the Supreme Court's] decisions as of the time of the
relevant state-court decision." Williams v. Taylor,
529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000): see also Gilchrist v. O'Keefe,
260 F.3d 87, 93 (2d Cir. 2001).
A decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court, 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 [the
Supreme Court] has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts."
Williams, 529 U.S. at 413. A decision is an "unreasonable
application" of clearly established Supreme Court law if a state court
"identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme
Court's] decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts
of [a] prisoner's case." Id. "In other words, a
federal court may grant relief when a state court has misapplied a
`governing legal principle' to `a set of facts different from those of
the case in which the principle was announced.'" Wiggins v.
Smith, 123 S, Ct. 2527, 2535 (2003) (quoting Lockyer v.
Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 123 S.Ct. 1166, 1175 (2003)).
Under the latter 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." Gilchrist, 260 F.3d at 93
(citing Williams, 529 U.S. at 411); see also
Yarborough v. Gentry, 124 S.Ct. l, 157 L.Ed.2d 1, 7 (2003)
(per curiam) ("Where . . . the state court's application of
governing federal law is challenged, it must be shown to be not only
erroneous, but objectively unreasonable."); Wiggins, 123 So.
Ct. at 2535 (same). Interpreting Williams, the Second Circuit
has added that although "[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." Gilchrist, 260 F.3d
at 93 (citing Francis S. v. Stone, 221 F.3d 100,
111 (2d Cir. 2000)).
This standard of review applies whenever the state court has
adjudicated the federal claim on the merits, regardless of whether it
has alluded to federal law in its decision. As ...