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Luis Ocasio v. William Brown

May 23, 2011

LUIS OCASIO, PETITIONER,
v.
WILLIAM BROWN, SUPERINTENDENT EASTERN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY 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 Luis Ocasio ("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 May 10, 2004, in New York State, Supreme Court, Erie County (Russell P. Buscaglia, A.J.), convicting him, upon a plea of guilty, of Attempted Robbery in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") § 110.00, 160.15[1], 20.00). Petitioner was sentenced to a term of fifteen years imprisonment and a period of five years post release supervision.

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

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

On October 31, 2003, Petitioner was indicted, along with two co-defendants, and charged with four counts of Robbery in the First Degree and three counts of Assault in the First Degree. See Resp't A (Indictment No. 04624-2003). The charges arose from an incident that occurred on September 11, 2002, wherein Petitioner and his co-defendants forcibly stole a sum of money from a McDonald's restaurant in the City of Buffalo, New York, and, in the course of the commission of the crime, caused serious physical injury to three individuals who were not participants in the crime. Plea Mins. [P.M.] 8, 11.

On February 17, 2004, Petitioner pleaded guilty in Supreme Court, Erie County to Attempted Robbery in the First Degree. P.M. 12. Petitioner was subsequently sentenced, as promised, to a term of fifteen years imprisonment and a five year period of post release supervision. Sentencing Mins. [S.M.] 9.

The Appellate Division, Fourth Department unanimously affirmed Petitioner's judgment of conviction on July 3, 2008, and leave to appeal was denied. People v. Ocasio, 53 A.D.3d 1111 (4th Dep't 2008) (Resp't Ex. B); lv. denied, 11 N.Y.3d 792 (N.Y. 2008) (Resp't Ex. C).

On or about September 23, 2008, Petitioner moved, pursuant to N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law ("CPL") § 440.20, to set aside his sentence. That motion was denied, and leave to appeal was denied. See Resp't Ex. E.

This habeas corpus petition followed, wherein Petitioner seeks relief on the basis that his sentence was illegal. See Pet. ¶ 22A (Dkt. #1); Reply (Dkt. #6). Petitioner's claim is exhausted and properly before this Court.

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 a habeas petitioner's claims to the holdings (not dicta) of the Supreme Court existing at the time of the relevant state-court decision. Williams, 529 U.S. at 412; accord Sevencan v. Herbert, 342 F.3d 69, 73-74 (2d Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 1197 (2004).

A state court decision is based on an "unreasonable application" of Supreme Court precedent if it correctly identified the governing legal rule, but applied it in an unreasonable manner to the facts of a particular case. Williams, 529 U.S. at 413; see also id. at 408-10. "[A] federal habeas court is not empowered to grant the writ just because, in its independent judgment, it would have decided the federal law question differently." Aparicio v. Artuz, 269 F.3d 78, 94 (2d Cir. 2001). Rather, "[t]he state court's application must reflect some additional increment of incorrectness such that it may be said to be unreasonable." Id. This increment "need not be great; otherwise, habeas relief would be ...


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