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People ex rel Cornell v. Kirkpatrick

January 13, 2010

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK EX REL. JASON CORNELL, PETITIONER,
v.
ROBERT KIRKPATRICK, SUPERINTENDENT, WENDE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

ORDER

I. Introduction

Petitioner Jason Cornell("petitioner") filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his conviction in Ontario County Court of two counts of Rape in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal L. § 130.35(1)). Petitioner is represented by counsel in these proceedings.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

Petitioner's conviction stems from the forced sexual assault of two women (hereinafter referred to as "Victim #1" and "Victim #2") during car trips from their homes in Watkins Glen, New York to Rochester, New York. The assaults occurred under similar circumstances, approximately three days apart.

On October 27, 2000, petitioner was charged with two counts of first degree rape and one count of first degree forcible sodomy. The case was tried before Judge James Harvey and a jury in Ontario County Court from March 19 to March 21, 2001. Petitioner was convicted on both rape counts, and acquitted of the sodomy count.

He was subsequently sentenced as a second felony offender to twelve-and-a-half years of incarceration on each rape count, set to run consecutively as to each victim. Sentencing Tr. 12.

Through counsel, petitioner raised the following points on direct appeal: (1) Ontario County was not the proper venue for the prosecution; (2) the trial court gave an improper jury instruction; (3) the trial court erred in refusing to sever the counts; (4) the prosecutor violated Brady by failing to disclose the location of one of the rapes; and (5) the sentence was harsh and excessive. See Petitioner's ("Pet'r") Appellate Br. (Dkt. #12). The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, unanimously affirmed petitioner's conviction. People v. Cornell, 17 A.D.3d 1010 (4th Dept. 2005), lv. denied, 5 N.Y.3d 805 (2005).

While his direct appeal was pending, petitioner filed a motion to vacate the judgment pursuant to New York Crim. Proc. Law ("C.P.L.") § 440.10, arguing that: (1) the trial court gave an improper jury instruction; and (2) the court erred in refusing to sever the charges. The trial court denied this motion without opinion. See Order, No. 00-10-168, dated 1/14/04; Respondent's ("Resp't") Ex. L. Leave to appeal that decision was denied by the Appellate Division on April 20, 2004. See Resp't Ex. O.

Petitioner then filed a timely petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 with this Court. Through counsel, he argues that the prosecutor violated the precepts of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by failing to timely disclose the location of one of the rapes. See Pet'r Br. at 9-12 (Dkt. #2).

Petitioner also attacks trial counsel's effectiveness on over fifteen grounds. Petition ("Pet.") 20-23; Pet'r Br. 2-18. (Dkt. ## 1, 2). For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief and the petition is dismissed.

III. Discussion

A. General Principles Applicable to Federal Habeas Review

1. Standard of Review

To prevail under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254, as amended in 1996, a petitioner seeking federal review of his conviction must demonstrate that the state court's adjudication of his federal constitutional claim resulted in a decision that was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent, or resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable factual determination in light of the evidence ...


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