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T-Jai Murphy v. Joseph Costello

January 26, 2011

T-JAI MURPHY, PETITIONER,
v.
JOSEPH COSTELLO, SUPERINTENDANT, MID-STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY,*FN1 RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge:

ONLINE PUBLICATION ONLY

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

T-Jai Murphy, currently incarcerated in New York's Mid-State Correctional Facility, petitions for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking relief from his conviction in Queens County Supreme Court on charges of attempted murder in the second degree. Murphy, appearing pro se, claims that (1) his plea of guilty was involuntary and unknowing because his trial counsel failed to inform him of various available defenses, (2) his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to inform Murphy of available defenses or to discover alleged spoliation of evidence, and (3) he was not treated as an "eligible youth" under state law in violation of his due process rights. Because his petition is meritless and time-barred, it is hereby denied.

BACKGROUND

A. The Crime and the Arrest

On the morning of March 26, 2007, Murphy was engaged in visitation with his infant daughter in his home in Queens when his daughter's mother, Jovanna Slade ("Jovanna"), Jovanna's father Jeffrey Slade ("Slade"), and Slade's step-son Jabar Young came to pick up the child. While her father and step-brother waited outside, Jovanna entered Murphy's home and exited shortly afterward with her daughter. They all turned to leave, but moments later they discovered they were being chased by Murphy, who was brandishing a gun. Jovanna and Young ran, carrying Jovanna's daughter, while Slade attempted to distract Murphy by walking into the street. Murphy advanced to within a few steps of Slade and shot him twice at close range. The bullets struck Slade in his stomach and near his heart. People v. Murphy, No. 1701/07, at 1-2 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Jan. 29, 2010) ("Murphy I").

Murphy was arraigned on July 23, 2007 on charges of attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Affirmation of Raymond Cash ("Cash Aff.") at ¶ 3. His mother retained attorney Raymond Cash to represent Murphy in this and two other pending criminal cases. Id.; see Exh. A(E).

B. The Plea

On February 5, 2008, Murphy pled guilty before Supreme Court Justice James Griffin to a charge of attempted murder in the second degree in full satisfaction of the indictment, in exchange for a sentence of seven years' imprisonment and four years of post-release supervision. See Cash Aff. at ¶ 4. Murphy stated that he was of sound mind, he fully understood the plea agreement, and he was satisfied with the way his attorney had represented him. Plea Minutes at 4. In addition, he agreed to waive his rights to appeal, id., and to petition for state or federal habeas relief, People v. Murphy, No. 1701/07, at 4 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 23, 2010) ("Murphy III"). He allocuted that he had, "on March 26 of 2007 . . . with the intent to cause the death of a person, . . . attempted to cause the death of Jeffrey Slade." Plea Minutes at 6.

Prior to the conclusion of the guilty plea, Murphy's counsel requested that Justice Griffin "keep an open mind as to [youthful offender] treatment." Id. at 3. Justice Griffin responded that because "the crime, at least the Second Count, and the other counts involve a felony, [Murphy] would not be eligible" for youthful offender status "[u]nless there is specific circumstances and I don't know of any." Id. He concluded that the seriousness of the charges in the indictment and to which Murphy pled guilty precluded Murphy from being eligible for youthful offender treatment. Id.

C. The Sentencing

On April 23, 2008, just prior to sentencing, Murphy sought to withdraw his plea.

Neither he nor Cash explained Murphy's change of heart, but in any event shortly after Murphy's request was made and before it could be decided, Murphy changed his mind again and decided to go through with the sentencing on the plea of guilty. Murphy I at 3; see Sent. Minutes at 3.

At his sentencing before Justice Kenneth Holder on June 19, 2008, Murphy was sentenced in accordance with the plea bargain to a seven-year term of imprisonment and four years of post-release supervision. Justice Holder made no mention of Murphy's potential classification as an eligible youth. The court also imposed permanent orders of protection in favor of Slade, Jovanna, ...


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