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Jason Tinsley v. R.K. Woods

September 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Briccetti, J.:


Now pending before the Court is Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison's Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), dated June 16, 2011 (Doc. #22) on petitioner Jason Tinsley's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Magistrate Judge Davison recommended that the Court deny the petition. For the following reasons, the Court adopts the R&R as the opinion of the Court. The petition is denied and dismissed.

A district court reviewing a magistrate judge's recommended ruling "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge."

28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Parties may raise objections to the recommended ruling, but they must be "specific" and "written," and submitted "[w]ithin 14 days after being served with a copy of the recommended disposition." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). When a party submits a timely objection to a report and recommendation, the district court reviews the parts of the report and recommendation to which the party objected under a de novo standard of review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3) ("The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions."). The district court may adopt those portions of the recommended ruling to which no timely objections have been made, provided no clear error is apparent from the face of the record. See Wilds v. UPS, Inc., 262 F. Supp. 2d 163, 169 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). The clearly erroneous standard also applies when a party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates his original arguments. Ortiz v. Barkley, 558 F. Supp. 2d 444, 451 (S.D.N.Y. 2008).

The objections of parties appearing pro se are "generally accorded leniency" and should be construed "to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Milano v. Astrue, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74488, at *3-4 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 26, 2008).*fn1 "Nonetheless, even a pro se party's objections to a Report and Recommendation must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings in the magistrate's proposal, such that no party be allowed a second bite at the apple by simply relitigating a prior argument." Pinkney v. Progressive Home Health Servs., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55034, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2008).

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), petitioner is entitled to habeas corpus relief only if he can show "the state court 'unreasonably' applied law as established by the Supreme Court in ruling on petitioner's claim, or made a decision that was 'contrary to' it." Cousin v. Bennett, 511 F.3d 334, 337 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)). The state court's determination of factual issues is presumed correct, and petitioner has "the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence."

28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

The case was originally referred to Magistrate Judge Mark Fox for review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) on February 21, 2008. After Magistrate Judge Fox retired in July 2008, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Davison on January 12, 2009.*fn2

The Court presumes familiarity with the factual and procedural background of this case. Petitioner objects to the R&R for four reasons. First, he contends AEDPA is unconstitutional because it infringes upon the district court's Article III powers. Second, he questions whether the state court decision was an unreasonable application of and contrary to federal law and the facts presented. Third, petitioner asserts the state court erred by not permitting a full development of the record. And fourth, petitioner contends Magistrate Judge Davison erred by not holding a hearing for petitioner to substantiate his claims.

As a general matter, petitioner's objections are generalized objections reviewed for clear error. In an abundance of caution, the Court considers petitioner's fourth objection as sufficiently specific to warrant de novo review. Under the respective standards, the Court finds the R&R to be a correct application of the law, and the Court adopts it. Nonetheless, the Court will address each of petitioner's objections.

I. Constitutionality of AEDPA

Petitioner's argument that AEDPA is unconstitutional rests on Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis's decision in the Eastern District of New York in Figueroa v. Walsh, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35845 (E.D.N.Y. May 1, 2008). In his opinion, Judge Garaufis observed that AEDPA's prohibition on the district court's reliance on any non-Supreme Court precedent, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), may constitute an unconstitutional infringement by Congress on the judiciary's power to adjudicate cases. Id., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35845, at *19-26. In support of this, Judge Garaufis does not rely upon any holdings of any Courts of Appeals or district courts. Rather, he points out various non-binding opinions criticizing AEDPA. See Evans v. Thompson, 524 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2008) (Lipez, J., dissenting); Crater v. Galaza, 508 F.3d 1261 (9th Cir. 2007) (Reinhardt, J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc and joined by Pregerson, Gould, Paez, and Berzon, JJ.); Davis v. Straub, 445 F.3d 908 (6th Cir. 2006) (Martin,

J., dissenting, and joined by Daughtrey, Moore, Cole, and Clay, JJ.); Irons v. Carey, 505 F.3d 846, 854 (9th Cir. 2007) (Noonan, J., concurring); Lindh v. Murphy, 96 F.3d 856, 885 (7th Cir. 1996) (Ripple, J., dissenting, and joined by Rovner, J.); see also Lynn Adelman & Jon Deitrich, Saying What the Law Is: How Certain Legal Doctrines Impede the Development of Constitutional Law and What Courts Can Do About It, 2 Fed. Cts. L. Rev. 87 (Fall 2007); James S. Liebman & William F. Ryan, 'Some Effectual Power': The Quantity and Quality of Decisionmaking Required of Article III Courts, 98 Colum. L. Rev. 696 (May 1998).

No court has held AEDPA to be unconstitutional in reliance on any of these opinions. And no decision the Court could find has granted relief based upon the argument petitioner advances. Accordingly, ...

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