Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Martinez v. Miller

December 6, 2006

CESAR MARTINEZ, PETITIONER,
v.
DAVID L. MILLER, SUPERINTENDENT, EASTERN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, AND ELIOT SPITZER, NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL, RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Conway Casey, United States District Judge.

ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

On January 2, 2002, Cesar Martinez ("Petitioner") filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. By Report and Recommendation dated June 14, 2006 ("Report"), United States Magistrate Judge Frank Maas recommended that the habeas petition be denied and that, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2), a certificate of appealability not issue. For the reasons explained below, the Court adopts the conclusions of the Report, and the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED, and a certificate of appealability will not issue.

I. BACKGROUND

The underlying charges against Petitioner arise out of a fifty-count indictment in which he and twenty-three others were charged with, inter alia, participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and other narcotics in Manhattan through an organization known as the "Gerry Curl Gang." Petitioner was tried in New York Supreme Court (the "trial court") alongside four other Gerry Curl Gang members. On March 1, 1993, after a trial that lasted over five months, the jury found Petitioner guilty of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree. On April 8, 1993, the trial judge sentenced Petitioner to concurrent indeterminate prison terms of twenty-five years to life on the narcotics counts, and eight and one-third to twenty-five years on the conspiracy and weapons counts.

Petitioner appealed his conviction to the New York Appellate Division, First Department ("Appellate Division"). His appeal was consolidated with those of the four co-defendants with whom he had been tried. On or about August 28, 1995, Petitioner's assigned appellate counsel filed a brief on his behalf. The People filed a brief in response. By memorandum and order dated June 4, 1998, the Appellate Division unanimously affirmed Petitioner's conviction. On November 24, 1998, the New York Court of Appeals denied Petitioner's leave to appeal.

On October 22, 1999, Petitioner filed a pro se motion to vacate the verdict pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law § 440.10 on the ground that the enhanced payment arrangements for his court-appointed trial attorney had created a conflict of interest that ultimately deprived him of the effective assistance of counsel. On January 10, 2000, the People filed an opposition to Petitioner's motion. By order dated September 15, 2000, the Supreme Court judge denied the motion. On February 27, 2001, Petitioner's application for leave to appeal the denial was summarily denied by the Appellate Division.

On March 15, 2001, Petitioner applied pro se to the Appellate Division for a writ of error coram nobis. On or about the dates of May 9, 2001 and May 16, 2001, Petitioner filed supplemental papers. In June 2001, the People submitted a memorandum of law in opposition to Petitioner's application. By order dated December 20, 2001, the Appellate Division denied the Petitioner's application without opinion.

On January 2, 2002, Petitioner's retained counsel filed the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus, accompanied by a memorandum of law. Petitioner asserted five grounds for relief in support of his position, namely: (1) that the prosecutor used his peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner; (2) that the trial court improperly ordered closure of the courtroom during the testimony of three undercover police officers; (3) that his appointed trial counsel labored under a conflict of interest that functioned to deprive him of effective assistance of counsel; (4) that the trial court erred in denying his request for a multiple conspiracies charge; and (5) that the trial court's refusal to sever his trial from that of his four co-defendants deprived him of a fair trial. By papers dated July 25, 2002, the People filed an answer and a memorandum of law in opposition.

On June 14, 2006, Magistrate Judge Maas issued the Report recommending that Petitioner's habeas petition be denied and that a certificate of appealability not issue. On June 23, 2006, Petitioner timely filed his objections ("Objections") to the Report.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review for Report and Recommendation

The Court reviews de novo all portions of a magistrate judge's report to which there are objections. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(2); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). Where there is no objection, a court may adopt those portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation that are not the product of clear error. Pizzaro v. Bartlett, 776 F. Supp. 815, 817 (S.D.N.Y. 1991); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Where only general objections are filed, the party does not preserve de novo review, see Mario v. P & C Food Markets, Inc., 313 F.3d 758, 766 (2d Cir. 2002), and the Court reviews for clear error, see Nelson v. Smith, 618 F. Supp. 1186, 1189 (S.D.N.Y. 1985); DeJesus v. Tierney, 2006 WL 839541, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 28, 2006).

Here, other than Petitioner's reaffirmation of "each and every claim in the [p]etition," and his statement that he "maintains that each of the instances of constitutional error presented in the petition for relief warrant the grant of habeas corpus relief," (Pet'r's Objections at 1, 3), Petitioner makes no mention of the Report's denial of his conflict of interest or Batson claims. Accordingly, the Court reviews these claims for clear error. It finds none. Thus, Petitioner's claims that his appointed trial counsel labored under a conflict of interest and that the prosecutor used his peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner are denied. The surviving three claims addressed in the Report-improper closure of the courtroom, failure to sever, and failure to provide a multiple conspiracies charge-were properly objected to and thus are reviewed de novo.

B. Legal Standards Governing Review of Habeas Petitions

A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is granted only when a petitioner is held in custody pursuant to a state-court judgment "in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A district court's review of a habeas corpus petition is restricted by the provisions of § 2254, as amended by the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.