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Willie E. Wimes v. James Conway

October 20, 2011

WILLIE E. WIMES, PETITIONER,
v.
JAMES CONWAY, SUPERINTENDENT ATTICA 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 Willie E. Wimes ("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 24, 2006, in New York State, Supreme Court, Erie County (Hon. Christopher J. Burns), convicting him, upon a plea of guilty, of Attempted Assault in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") §§ 110.00, 120.10(3)).

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

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

On May 6, 2005, Petitioner was indicted by an Erie County Grand Jury and charged with Attempted Murder in the Second Degree (Penal Law §§ 110.00, 125.25(1)), two counts of Assault in the First Degree (Penal Law §§ 120.10(1), (3)), and Criminal Use of a Firearm in the First Degree (Penal Law § 265.09(1)(b)). The charges arose from an incident that occurred on March 15, 2005, wherein Petitioner fired a rifle at Anthony Green ("Green"), striking Green and causing injuries to Green's forearm. See Ind. No. 00647-2005 dated 05/06/05 at Resp't Ex. A.

On January 26, 2006, Petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of Attempted Assault in the First Degree (Penal Law §§ 110.00, 120.10(3)). Plea Mins. [P.M.] 263-265. He was subsequently sentenced, as a persistent violent felony offender, to an indeterminate term of sixteen years to life imprisonment. Sentencing Mins. [S.M.] 8-9.

The Appellate Division, Fourth Department unanimously affirmed the judgment of conviction on March 14, 2008, and leave to appeal was denied. See People v. Wimes, 49 A.D.3d 1286 (4th Dep't 2008); lv. denied, 7 N.Y.3d 743 (2008).

On or about July 30, 2009, Petitioner moved, pursuant to New York Crim. Proc. Law ("CPL") § 440.10, to vacate his judgment of conviction on the basis that: (1) he was denied the effective assistance of counsel; (2) that his plea was not made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently; (3) that the trial court denied him his due process rights by not letting him withdraw his guilty plea; and (4) that the trial court erred when it failed to order a competency examination before accepting the guilty plea. The Supreme Court, Erie County denied Petitioner's motion, and leave to appeal was denied. See Resp't Ex. D.

This habeas corpus petition followed, wherein Petitioner seeks relief on the following grounds: (1) that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel; (2) that his plea was not made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently; (3) that the trial court denied him his due process rights by not letting him withdraw his guilty plea; and (4) that the trial court erred when it failed to order a competency examination before accepting the guilty plea. See Pet. ¶ 17[a]-[d] (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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