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Raymond v. David

June 24, 2008

JAMES RAYMOND, PETITIONER,
v.
JOSEPH DAVID, SUPERINTENDENT, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David N. Hurd United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. Background*fn1

A. State Court Proceedings

The record reflects that at approximately 8:00 p.m. on March 6, 2001, petitioner, pro se, James Raymond sold approximately 0.4 gram of cocaine to a confidential informant who was working in cooperation with local law enforcement agents in their efforts to reduce the sale of illegal narcotics in Auburn, New York. As a result of that transaction, a Cayuga County grand jury returned an indictment against Raymond which charged him with conspiracy in the fourth degree, in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 105.10; criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 220.39[1], and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 220.16[1]. See Indictment No. 2001-116. Raymond's court-appointed counsel regarding the above charges was Michael G. Conroy, Esq. of Seneca Falls, New York. On January 17, 2002, following negotiations between Raymond's counsel and the District Attorney, he pleaded guilty before Cayuga County Court Judge Peter E. Corning to the charge of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree in full satisfaction of all charges against him. See Transcript of Change of Plea (1/17/02) ("Plea Tr."). In connection with that plea agreement, Raymond also waived his right to appeal his conviction and sentence. See Dkt. No. 14, Exh. 8.

On March 14, 2002, Judge Corning sentenced Raymond to an indeterminate term of three and one-half to seven years imprisonment on his guilty plea.*fn2 Petitioner did not appeal the judgment of conviction. See Petition (Dkt. No. 1) at ¶ 8.

On March 14, 2003, notwithstanding his waiver of appeal, Raymond filed with the New York State Appellate Division, Fourth Department an application for an extension of time in which to pursue an appeal. The District Attorney opposed that application, and on June 4, 2003, the Fourth Department denied the request. Raymond filed an application with the New York Court of Appeals regarding his request on June 11, 2003, however it was denied by the Court of Appeals on June 27, 2003.

On July 29, 2003, Raymond filed a motion to set aside his sentence pursuant to New York's Criminal Procedure Law ("CPL") § 440.20. In that application, Raymond claimed that his conviction and sentence was "illegal," declaring:

I do not know anything about my case. I never received one piece of paper, ever, about my case. Not one. I was denied an extension of time to appeal. I ple[]d guilty involuntarily without any evidence or paperwork on my case. If there is no drug, how can there be a sale. A sale of what and to whom. I sell guitars.

On the same day, Raymond filed a motion to vacate his judgment of conviction pursuant to CPL § 440.10. In his application, Raymond declared:

I do not know why I am here. When the Judge said to tell him what I did, I made up a story what I thought he wanted to hear, but that alone cannot be a conviction for criminal sale of a controlled substance. I do not know the evidence against me. I was never given one piece of paper on this case. I have a right to know the evidence against me.

See Affidavit in Support of CPL § 440.10 Motion at ¶ 5.

The District Attorney opposed both motions which were addressed by the County Court in a Decision/Order dated September 12, 2003 ("September, 2003 Order") (Dkt. No. 14, Exh. 22). In his decision, Judge Corning found Raymond's claims to be both unsupported and contradicted by the record, and accordingly denied them as being without merit. Id.

Raymond did not seek leave to appeal the decision to the Appellate Division.

B. This Action

On July 9, 2004, Raymond filed a pro se petition in this District seeking a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his application, Raymond asserts the following claims: (1) his guilty plea was unlawfully induced and not knowingly or voluntarily made; (2) the prosecutor failed to provide Raymond with all Brady material*fn3 to which he was entitled; (3) he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel; and (4) he was denied his constitutional right to appeal his conviction and sentence. See Petition, Grounds One through Four.

After reviewing the petition, Raymond's in forma pauperis application, and the file in this matter, the respondent was directed to file a response to the petition. Dkt. No. 4. The Office of the Attorney General for the State of New York, acting on respondent's behalf, subsequently filed a response in opposition to Raymond's application. Dkt. No. 14. Attached to that response was a memorandum of law requesting dismissal of the petition ("Resp. Mem."). In respondent's memorandum of law, he claims that Raymond is procedurally barred from asserting his claims for relief, and that, in any event, the claims raised in the petition are without merit. See Resp. Mem.

II. Discussion

A. Procedural Default

1. Grounds One Through Three

Respondent initially claims that Raymond is procedurally barred from obtaining the relief he seeks because he failed to fully exhaust his state court remedies prior to commencing this action. See Resp. Mem. at pp. 6-10.

It is well settled that a federal district court "'may not grant the habeas petition of a state prisoner unless it appears that the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State . . . .'" Shabazz v. Artuz, 336 F.3d 154,160 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting Aparicio v. Artuz, 269 F.3d 78, 89 (2d Cir. 2001) (other citation omitted)); see also Ellman v. Davis, 42 F.3d 144, 147 (2d Cir. 1994). This is because "[s]tate courts, like federal courts, are obliged to enforce federal law." Galdamez v. Keane, 394 F.3d 68, 72 (2d Cir.) (quoting O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 844 (1999)), cert denied sub nom., Galdamez v. Fischer, 544 U.S. 1025 (2005). As the Supreme Court noted in O'Sullivan, "[c]omity . . . dictates that when a prisoner alleges that his continued confinement for a state court conviction ...


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