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Jackson v. Conway

May 18, 2010

EDWARD W. JACKSON, 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 Edward W. Jackson ("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 November 17, 2004, in New York State, Supreme Court, Erie County, convicting him, after a jury trial, of Burglary in the Second Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("PL") § 140.25 [2]), Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree (PL § 140.15), and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree (PL § 165.40).

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

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

Shortly before 2:30 p.m. on October 21, 2003, two tenants of the Park Lane Condominium Complex located in Buffalo, New York were returning home from their tai chi class. Trial Transcript [T.T.] 359, 373. They entered the back door of the condominium complex and entered the freight elevator, which was remotely operated by a building employee at the switchboard. T.T. 335, 339. Before the elevator door closed, Petitioner ran into the elevator, out of breath, and indicated that he was making a delivery. T.T. 320, 322, 357-358.

Dennis Zgoda ("Zgoda"), a maintenance worker at the condominium complex, saw the two tenants in the elevator and a third person, whom he did not recognize. T.T. 320. Zgoda went to the front desk and determined that no visitors had checked in, as was required by the posted sign. T.T. 323. Zgoda promptly contacted the building superintendent, Tim Miller ("Miller"), who secured the facility and directed the front desk operator to call 911. T.T. 324.

Shortly thereafter, Miller went up to the tenth floor --- the highest floor in the building --- to begin looking for the intruder. T.T. 411. On the tenth floor, Miller saw Petitioner exiting the apartment of Jacqueline Melton ("Melton"), but he was unsuccessful in his attempt to detain him. T.T. 414.

Buffalo police officers arrived at the scene in response to the 911 call. Two of the officers went up to the tenth floor in an attempt to flush the intruder down to the lobby where two other officers were waiting. T.T. 501. By the time the officers reached the fourth floor, Petitioner exited the stairwell into the front lobby where he was intercepted by Officers Valerie Perez and Lonnie Laska. T.T. 501. Petitioner was carrying a piece of mail in his right hand, which was confiscated by Officer Perez and later determined to belong to tenant Annette Potenza ("Potenza"). T.T. 506.

In the lobby, Miller identified Petitioner as the person whom he had just seen coming out of Melton's apartment on the tenth floor. T.T. 412, 416.

The following day, Melton determined that she was missing a small bag of jewelry, which was recovered from a garbage can situated in the stairwell that Petitioner had exited the day before. T.T. 420.

Petitioner was indicted by an Erie County grand jury, which charged him with two counts of burglary in the second degree and one count of criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree. The indictment accused Petitioner of having unlawfully entered both the Park Lane Condominium Complex, as an entity, and a specific tenant's apartment, with the intent to commit a crime therein. Petitioner was also accused of the unlawful possession of a piece of mail belonging to tenant Potenza.

A jury trial was held before the Honorable Russell P. Buscaglia. On September 10, 2004, the jury acquitted Petitioner of the burglary of the complex itself but found him guilty of the lesser included offense of criminal trespass in the second degree. Petitioner was also convicted of the burglary count related to entry into Melton's apartment and criminal possession of stolen property.

Petitioner was sentenced as a persistent violent felony offender, pursuant to PL § 70.08, to a term of sixteen years to life on the burglary conviction.*fn1 He also received two definite sentences of one year for the charges of criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree and criminal trespass in the second degree.

Petitioner appealed his judgment of conviction to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, which was unanimously affirmed on February 2, 2007. People v. Jackson, 37 A.D.3d 1091 (4th Dept. 2007). Leave to appeal was denied by the New York Court of Appeals. People v. Jackson, 8 N.Y.3d 946 (2007).

This habeas petition followed, wherein Petitioner seeks relief on the following grounds: (1) a Batson violation; (2) insufficiency of the evidence; and (3) erroneous jury instructions. Petition [Pet.] ¶22A-C (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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