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James Robinson v. Superintendent

January 17, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matsumoto, United States District Judge:


On April 30, 2009, James Robinson ("petitioner") filed this pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his conviction for rape in the first degree, assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree, and bail jumping in the third degree following a jury trial in Supreme Court in Kings County, New York. (See Transcript of Trial at 445:7-446:3, People v. Robinson, No. 2502/02 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. July 9, 2004); ECF No. 1, Petition, filed 4/30/2009, at 1.*fn1

On April 9, 2010, this court referred the Petition to Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom for a Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 11, Order Referring Case, dated 4/9/2011.) On January 4, 2011, Magistrate Judge Bloom issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the Petition be denied in its entirety. (See ECF No. 12, Report & Recommendation, dated 1/4/2011.) According to a notation entered on the docket sheet, a copy of the Report and Recommendation was mailed to petitioner on January 4, 2011. (See ECF No. 12, Docket Entry, dated 1/4/2011.) As explicitly noted at the end of the Report and Recommendation, any objections to the Report and Recommendation were to be filed within 14 days of receipt of the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 12, Report and Recommendation at 17.) By letter dated January 10, 2011, petitioner requested additional time to file his objections. (See ECF No. 13, Letter Motion for Extension of Time, filed 1/13/2011.) The court granted petitioner's application, and directed him to file any objections by February 21, 2011. (Order Granting Motion for Extension of Time to File, dated 1/19/2011.) On February 23, 2011, the court received a copy of petitioner's Response, dated February 19, 2011, to the Report and Recommendation. (See ECF No. 14, Response to Report & Recommendation, filed 2/23/2011 ("Pet'r Response").)*fn2


I.Legal Standard

To the extent that a party makes specific and timely written objections to a magistrate judge's findings and recommendations, the district court must review de novo "those portions of the report . . . to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); United States v. Male Juvenile, 121 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 1997). "However, when a party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates his original arguments, the Court reviews the Report and Recommendation only for clear error." Walker v. Vaughan, 216 F. Supp. 2d 290, 292 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Ortiz v. Barkley, 558 F. Supp. 2d 444, 451 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) ("Reviewing courts should review a report and recommendation for clear error where objections are merely perfunctory responses, argued in an attempt to engage the district court in a rehashing of the same arguments set forth in the original petition.") (internal quotation marks omitted).

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, No. 05-CV-6527, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74488, at *3-4 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 26, 2008) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006). "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., No. 06-CV-5023, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55034, at *2-3 (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2008) (citation and internal quotations marks omitted). Upon review, "[t]he district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3).

In reviewing a petition for habeas corpus relief, a federal court may only consider whether a person is in custody pursuant to a state court judgment in violation of the United States Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 requires federal courts to apply a deferential standard when conducting habeas corpus review of state court decisions. Renico v. Lett, 130 S. Ct. 1855, 1862 (2010). A petitioner is entitled to habeas corpus relief if he can show the state court decision "was contrary to, or involved unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).


The relevant factual and procedural background of this case is set forth in Magistrate Judge Bloom's thorough Report and Recommendation. (See ECF No. 12, Report and Recommendation at 1-4.) In his Response to the Report and Recommendation, petitioner argues that his constitutional rights were violated because:

(1) His counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to object to the delay in petitioner's trial. (ECF No. 14, Pet'r Response at 7-8, 11-12.)

(2) His counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to file a reply objecting to the prosecution's belated justification for the 14-day adjournment of trial. (Id.)

(3) His counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to preserve petitioner's federal constitutional basis for objecting ...

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