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Cruise v. Conway

April 26, 2010

TOM CRUISE, A/K/A FOUED ABDALLAH, PETITIONER,
v.
JAMES CONWAY, RESPONDENT.



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

DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Pro se Petitioner Tom Cruise, a/k/a Foued Abdallah, ("Petitioner") has filed a timely petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging the constitutionality of his custody pursuant to a judgment entered July 8, 1996, in New York State, Supreme Court, Monroe County, convicting him, upon a plea of guilty, of Murder in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") § 125.27[1][a][vii]).

For the reasons stated below, habeas relief is denied and the petition is dismissed.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

The charges arise out of the stabbing death of Petitioner's former girlfriend, Anna Rickards ("Rickards" or "the victim"), that occurred in the Town of Chili, New York on December 14, 1995. On that date, Petitioner broke into the victim's home, waited for her to arrive, and then attacked her with a knife when she and her young son returned. Rickards died from the stab wounds inflicted by the Petitioner.

On January 26, 1996, Petitioner was indicted by a Monroe County Grand Jury and charged with one count of murder in the first degree and two counts of burglary in the first degree. Shortly thereafter, the People filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty if Petitioner was convicted of murder in the first degree. Plea Minutes [P.M.] 3.

On June 4, 1996, Petitioner appeared in court and plead guilty to murder in the first degree in satisfaction of all charges in the indictment. On July 8, 1996, Petitioner was sentenced, in accordance with the plea agreement, to a term of incarceration of life without parole. Sentencing Minutes [S.M.] 30.

Petitioner appealed his judgment of conviction to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, which was unanimously affirmed on November 10, 2005. People v. Abdallah, 23 A.D.3d 1116 (4th Dept. 2005), lv. denied, People v. Abdallah, 6 N.Y.3d 845 (2006).

On or about May 16, 2006, Petitioner filed a New York Criminal Procedure Law ("CPL") § 440.10 motion to vacate the judgment of conviction, which was denied by the Supreme Court, Monroe County on October 5, 2006. See Decision and Order of the Supreme Court, Monroe County, Ind. # 1996-0053, dated 10/05/06 ("440.10 Dec."). Petitioner appealed the denial of the motion to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, which was denied on June 11, 2007. See Decision of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department (Associate Justice Elizabeth W. Pine), Ind. No. 1996-0053, dated 06/11/07.

This habeas petition followed. (Dkt. #1)

III. General Principles Applicable to Habeas Review

A. The AEDPA Standard of Review

Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), a federal court may grant habeas relief to a state prisoner only if a claim that was "adjudicated on the merits" in state court "resulted in a decision that 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), or if it "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding." § 2254(d)(2). A state court decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law "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 v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000). The phrase, "clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States," limits the law governing ...


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