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Alexander v. Superintendent

March 19, 2009

CRAIG J. ALEXANDER, PETITIONER,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, ET AL. RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James K. Singleton, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Petitioner Craig J. Alexander, a state prisoner appearing pro se, has filed a petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Alexander is currently in the custody of the New York Department of Correctional Services incarcerated at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility. Respondent Superintendent has answered; Alexander has not filed a traverse.

I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

In April 2004 Alexander was convicted in the Broome County Court upon a guilty plea of Manslaughter in the First Degree (N.Y. Pen. Law § 125.20(1)). Alexander was sentenced to a determinate term of 11 years plus 5 years supervised release. Alexander timely appealed his conviction to the Appellate Division, Third Department, which confirmed his conviction and sentence in a reasoned decision, and the New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal on November 29, 2005.*fn1

On April 20, 2006, Alexander filed a motion in the Broome County Court under New York Criminal Procedure Law 440.20 to set aside his sentence, which the Broome County Court denied in a reasoned decision, and the Appellate Division, Third Department, denied leave to appeal on August 8, 2006.

Alexander filed his undated petition for relief in this Court on June 28, 2007 (postmarked June 26, 2007).

II. GROUNDS RAISED/DEFENSES

In his petition Alexander raises a single ground: the failure of the trial court to advise him of the fact that a five-year period of supervised release would be imposed rendered his plea involuntary and not freely given.

Respondent asserts that the petition is barred by the one-year limitation period of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Respondent does not assert any other affirmative defense.*fn2

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Because Alexander filed his petition after April 24, 1996, it is governed by the standard of review set forth in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Consequently, this Court cannot grant relief unless the decision of the Appellate Division was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" at the time the state court renders its decision or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding."*fn3 The Supreme Court has explained that "clearly established Federal law" in § 2254(d)(1) "refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme Court] as of the time of the relevant state-court decision."*fn4

Thus, where holdings of the Supreme Court regarding the issue presented on habeas review are lacking, "it cannot be said that the state court 'unreasonabl[y] appli[ed] clearly established Federal law.'"*fn5 When a claim falls under the "unreasonable application" prong, a state court's application of the Supreme Court precedent must be "objectively unreasonable," "not just incorrect or erroneous."*fn6 The Supreme Court has made clear that the objectively unreasonable standard is a substantially higher threshold than simply believing the state court determination was incorrect.*fn7 In a federal habeas proceeding, the standard under which this Court must assess the prejudicial impact of constitutional error in a state court criminal trial is whether the error had a substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the jury's verdict.*fn8

In applying this standard, this Court reviews the last reasoned decision by the state court.*fn9

Under AEDPA, the state court's findings of fact are presumed to be correct unless the petitioner rebuts this presumption by ...


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