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Reid v. Graham

August 12, 2010

CEDRIC REID, PETITIONER,
v.
HAROLD GRAHAM, SUPERINTENDENT, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge

ORDER ADOPTING R&R

Cedric Reid ("Reid") appears pro se to petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his conviction in Supreme Court, New York County, for Attempted Robbery in the First Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree. His challenge is based on three grounds: (i) violation of his due process rights since the trial court judge failed to determine Reid's mental competency to stand trial and represent himself; (ii) denial of effective assistance of trial counsel (i.e. his 5 previously assigned counsels); and (ii) denial of his right of appeal based on the Appellate Division's rejection of Reid's request to file a supplemental brief. On November 4, 2009, U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas F. Eaton issued a Report & Recommendation ("R&R"), recommending that Reid's habeas petition be denied in its entirety.

On February 3, 2010, Reid filed timely objections to the R&R. Reid's objects only to the portion of the R&R relating to his due process challenge based on the trial court judge's failure to determine Reid's mental competency. Reid argues that Magistrate Judge Eaton erred and repeats arguments that he made in his habeas petition that Magistrate Judge Eaton properly rejected.

In addition to objecting to Magistrate Judge Eaton's analysis of his due process claim based on the failure of the trial court judge to determine Reid's mental competency, Reid requests that the Court to stay his habeas corpus petition as he moves for a petition for a writ of error coram nobis in the Appellate Division (Obj. at 2). Reid intends to file his coram nobis petition to exhaust his state court remedies as to his denial of effective assistance of trial counsel and his denial of right of appeal.

For the reasons that follow, the Court adopts the R&R in its entirety, denies Reid's habeas petition, and denies Reid's request for a stay of his habeas petition.

BACK GROUND*fn1

I. The Crime

On March 6, 1999, Reid was arrested in the possession of a loaded gun and charged with displaying it moments earlier in an attempted robbery of a check cashing store in Manhattan. Reid and an unidentified individual participated in the robbery. Two British tourists, Howard Groves ("Groves") and Rachel Double ("Double"), walked out of their hotel and witnessed a struggle at the check cashing store. Groves and Double also heard the victim of the robbery, Raymond Cortez, say "[t]hey are trying to rob me." Groves was a police officer in England who was visiting in the U.S. Reid and the unidentified man then started to walk away while Groves called out to them twice. The unidentified man turned toward Groves and Double, pointed a silver-colored gun at them, and fired. Groves and Double notified three New York City police officers, who pursued Reid and his associate. The police arrested Reid in a nearby subway station, but the associate, who was never identified, fled into a subway tunnel.

II. The Pre-Trial Proceedings

A grand jury indicted Reid with Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, Attempted Robbery in the First Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, and other related charges. On the night of the jury selection, Reid announced to the presiding judge, Justice Daniel P. FitzGerald, that he wanted to dismiss Kenneth Ives ("Ives"), the fifth attorney appointed to represent him, and to proceed pro se. Justice FitzGerald conducted a thorough and comprehensive review of Reid's request. Justice FitzGerald pointed out all the deficiencies inherent in criminal defendants appearing pro se. Justice FitzGerald asked Ives to opine on Reid's competence to represent himself. Ives replied, "I do think he's intelligent and I do think he to some extent understands the general principles of criminal law . . . [but] although he's intelligent, this is a very serious case . . . I think Mr. Reid going pro se is tantamount to him committing suicide." Justice FitzGerald told Reid that letters in his file "indicated an agile and logical mind." Nevertheless, Justice FitzGerald attempted to dissuade Reid from proceeding pro se. Reid, however, was not persuaded, and Justice FitzGerald designated Ives as standby counsel, allowing Reid to proceed pro se as he insisted.

III. The Trial

At trial, Reid accused the unidentified man of committing the alleged crimes. Reid also asserted a defense of duress. During the trial, Reid gave detailed testimony of the events. Reid's arguments were logical, pointed, and directly responsive to the People's presentation of its proof. Reid stated, "I did not voluntarily commit that act. I felt that I had no other avenue but to perform what that [unidentified] man had instructed me to do." Reid explained how the black gun ended up in his pocket: the unidentified man placed it there, just before Reid was arrested.

On November 9, 2000, the jury found Reid not guilty of Attempted Murder, but guilty of Attempted Robbery in the First Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, and two lesser charges. A second felony offender, Reid was sentenced to concurrent determinate prison terms of 15 years.

Eight months later, Reid filed a pro se motion asking Justice FitzGerald to vacate the judgment pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law ยง 440.10. Reid argued that the trial court should have ordered a mental competency examination of Reid prior to trial. Justice FitzGerald rejected Reid's motion, noting that "there is nothing which would suggest that the defendant was an 'incapacitated person.'" Justice FitzGerald added that Reid "made ...


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