The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge
Pro se Petitioner Stacey Fuller ("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 September 20, 2006, in New York State, County Court, Erie County (Hon. Timothy J. Drury), convicting him, upon a plea of guilty, of Attempted Burglary in the Second Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") §§ 110.00, 140.25 ). Petitioner was sentenced as a persistent violent felony offender to a term of thirteen years to life imprisonment.
For the reasons stated below, habeas relief is denied and the petition is dismissed.
II. Factual Background and Procedural History
Under Indictment No. 02154-2005, Petitioner was charged with two counts each of Burglary in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, and one count each of Attempted Burglary in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree. Petitioner pleaded guilty in full satisfaction of the indictment to Attempted Burglary in the Second Degree. He was subsequently sentenced (as promised) as a persistent violent felony offender to a term of thirteen years to life imprisonment. Plea Mins. [P.M.] 2, 5, 10, 17; Sentencing Mins. [S.M.] 11.
On or about April 25, 2007, while Petitioner's direct appeal was pending, Petitioner filed a motion, pursuant to New York Crim. Proc. Law ("CPL") § 440.20, to vacate his sentence. In support of his motion, he argued that his sentence was unauthorized, was illegally imposed, and was invalid as a matter of law because he was sentenced as a persistent violent felon upon a predicate 1995 conviction that was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights. The Erie County Court denied that motion, finding that the claim had been previously found to be without merit.*fn1 Leave to appeal was denied. See Resp't Ex. D.
On December 31, 2008, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department unanimously affirmed Petitioner's judgment of conviction, finding that the issues raised on appeal were meritless.*fn2 Leave to appeal was denied. People v. Fuller, 57 A.D.3d 1461 (4th Dep't 2008) (Resp't Ex. B); lv. denied, 13 N.Y.3d 907 (2009) (Resp't Ex. C).
On or about August 13, 2009, Petitioner filed a second motion to vacate his sentence on the same basis as his first CPL § 440.20 motion. The Erie County Court denied that motion, finding that all of the issues raised by Petitioner had been previously raised in his prior CPL § 440.20 motion, which had been denied. The court also held, citing CPL § 440.20 ,*fn3 that Petitioner duly waived his right to controvert the constitutionality of his 1995 conviction and admitted that he was a persistent violent felony offender. Leave to appeal was denied. See Resp't Ex. E.
This habeas corpus petition followed, wherein Petitioner seeks relief on the grounds that: (1) his sentence was unlawfully enhanced by a prior conviction that was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights; (2) the trial court refused to conduct a predicate felony hearing in violation of his constitutional rights; and (3) he was denied the right to be "properly heard on direct appeal." See Pet. ¶ 18, Grounds One-Three (Dkt. No. 1); Mem. of Law, ¶¶ 2-43 (Dkt. No. 2); see also Resp. to Resp't Answer (Dkt. No. 14); Mem. of Law in Resp. to Resp't Mem. of Law (Dkt. No. 15).
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 ...