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Terrance Jones v. Superintendent

October 18, 2011

TERRANCE JONES, PETITIONER,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT 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 Terrance Jones("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 December 14, 2006, in New York State, County Court, Monroe County (Hon. Richard A. Keenan), convicting him, upon a plea of guilty, of one count of Robbery in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") § 160.15(2). Petitioner was sentenced to a determinate term of twelve years imprisonment, to be followed by five years of post release supervision.

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

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

Petitioner was charged by a Monroe County Grand Jury with six counts of Robbery in the First Degree (Penal Law § 160.15(2)(4)) and three counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 265.03(1)(b)) for committing three robberies at gunpoint: the March 31, 2006 robbery of $25 worth of food and a package of cigarettes from Michael Gray; the April 5, 2006 robbery of $23 worth of food from David Chen; and the April 15, 2006 robbery of two gold chains and a bicycle from Desmond Auld. See Ind. No. 0304 dated 05/02/06 at Resp't Ex. A.

On November 22, 2006, Petitioner, represented by counsel, pleaded guilty to one count of Robbery in the First Degree, in exchange for a promise of twelve years in prison, to be followed by five years of post release supervision. During his plea colloquy, Petitioner admitted that on April 5, 2006, he robbed a deliveryman at gunpoint of $23 worth of food. Plea Mins. [P.M.] 23-26.

Petitioner was subsequently sentenced, as promised, to a term of twelve years imprisonment, to be followed by five years of post release supervision. Sentencing Mins. [S.M.] 6.

Petitioner appealed his judgment of conviction in the Appellate Division, Fourth Department on the ground that his sentence is harsh and excessive. The Appellate Division, Fourth Department unanimously affirmed the judgment of conviction, without opinion, on March 19, 2010, and leave to appeal was denied on May 26, 2010. See People v. Jones, 71 A.D.3d 1476 (4th Dep't 2010) (Resp't Ex. D); lv. denied, 14 N.Y.3d 889 (2010) (Resp't Ex. F).

This habeas corpus petition followed, wherein Petitioner seeks relief on the ground that his sentence is harsh and excessive. See Pet. ¶ 12, Ground One (Dkt. No. 1).

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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