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Navdeep Singh, Pro Se v. William Connolly

March 22, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dora L. Irizarry, U.S. District Judge:


On January 7, 2009, pro se*fn1 petitioner Navdeep Singh ("Petitioner") filed the instant writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his 2001 conviction in the Supreme Court of New York, Queens County. By Order dated June 22, 2010, this court referred the petition to United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy. On May 20, 2011, the magistrate judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("R & R"),*fn2 recommending the petition be denied. Petitioner timely objected. (See Docket Entry No. 26, Petitioner's Objection ("Pet. Obj.").) For the reasons set forth below, the R & R is adopted in its entirety and the petition is denied.


I.Legal Standards

A.Review of Report and Recommendation

Where a party objects to a R & R, a district judge must make a de novo determination with respect to those portions of the R & R to which the party objects. See FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b); United States v. Male Juvenile, 121 F. 3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 1997). If, however, a party makes conclusory or general objections, or reiterates his or her original arguments, the court will review the R & R only for clear error. Robinson v. Superintendent, Green Haven Correctional Facility, 2012 WL 123263, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 17, 2012) (quoting Walker v. Vaughan, 216 F. Supp. 2d 290, 292 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)). Portions of the R & R to which the parties have not objected are also reviewed for clear error. See Orellana v. World Courier, Inc., 2010 WL 3861013, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 28, 2010).The district court may then "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); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

B.Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), which governs the review of petitions challenging state convictions entered after 1996, federal courts may grant habeas relief only if the state court's adjudication on the merits:

(1) 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; or

(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). A decision is "contrary to" 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, 412-13 (2000). An "unreasonable determination" is one in which "the state court identifie[d] the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme Court's] decisions but unreasonably applie[d] that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id. at 413. A federal court may not grant relief "simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly." Id. at 411. Rather, the state court's application must have been "objectively unreasonable." Id. at 409. "[A] determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct," and "[t]he applicant shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence."

28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).


Objections of parties appearing pro se are "generally accorded leniency" and should be read "to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Robinson, 2012 WL 123263, at *2 (citations omitted). "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." Id. (quoting Pinkney v. Progressive Home Health Servs., 2008 WL 2811816, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2008) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)). Here, Petitioner raises several objections to the R & R: 1) the magistrate judge erred in concluding Petitioner's newly-discovered evidence claim fails to state a ground for habeas relief or, in the alternative, is unexhausted and procedurally barred; 2) the "lower courts'" ...

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