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Sharbu Redd v. Carol Woughter

July 12, 2012

SHARBU REDD,
PETITIONER,
v.
CAROL WOUGHTER, SUPERINTENDENT OF MOHAWK CORRECTIONAL FACILITY,
RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul A. Engelmayer, District Judge:

OPINION & ORDER

Sharbu Redd, pro se and incarcerated, petitions for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, arguing that the New York courts' denial of his motion to withdraw a guilty plea, and his attorney's unwillingness to join in that motion, deprived him of his rights to, respectively, due process under the Fourteenth Amendment and counsel under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. Redd further claims that his sentence of eight years-twice the minimum sentence for the crimes to which he pled guilty-is cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment. For the following reasons, the petition is denied.

I.Background*fn1

In late 2006 and early 2007, the New York City Police Department conducted a number of undercover drug purchases in Upper Manhattan. In the course of that investigation, Redd was identified as a source from whom the undercover officers could buy drugs. Initially, the undercover officers called Redd to request drugs, and Redd then put the officers in touch with Joseph Martin, who supplied the drugs. In November 2006, however, the officers began purchasing from Redd directly; the transactions occurred inside an apartment building located on East 129th Street, or just outside that building.

Based on the information obtained during these purchases, the police obtained a warrant to search the apartment of one Eric Davis, who lived in Redd's building. On January 24, 2007, that warrant was executed; the police recovered, inter alia, a safe from Davis's apartment, which contained both pre-recorded buy money given by an undercover officer to Redd earlier that day, and a .45 caliber handgun. Redd was subsequently arrested.

On February 5, 2007, a New York County grand jury returned a 12 count indictment against Redd, charging him with multiple counts of both criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. Because Redd's money was in the safe with the gun, he was also charged with one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Lyons Decl. Ex. B.

On December 4, 2007, Redd appeared before a judge to plead guilty to two counts in the indictment-one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, and one count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree. Redd's plea colloquy with the Court included, in pertinent part:

The Court: Is it your wish to withdraw your heretofore entered plea of not guilty to this indictment, and are you now offering to plead guilty to criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree under the eighth count of the indictment, and are you also offering ot plead guilty to criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree under the twelfth count of the indictment, in full satisfaction of this indictment?

The Defendant: Yes.

The Court: Are you entering this plea of your own free will?

The Defendant: Yes. [ . . . ]

The Court: Have you discussed the case and your plea with your attorney? [ . . . ]*fn2

The Court: Have you had sufficient time to discuss your decision to plead guilty?

The Defendant: Yes.

The Court: Are you pleading guilty because you are, in fact, guilty of these charges?

The Defendant: Yes. [ . . . ]

The Court: Do you understand the charges you're pleading guilty to?

The Defendant: Yes.

The Court: Has anyone, including the Court, the ADA, your lawyer or anyone else forced or threatened you to enter these pleas of guilty?

The Defendant: No. [ . . . ]

The Court: Count twelve charges you with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree committed as follows: The defendant, Sharbu Redd, in the County of New York, on or about January 24, 2007, possessed a loaded firearm, to wit: a pistol, outside of his home or place of business. Do you admit to that? The Defendant: Yes.

After taking Redd's guilty plea, the Court informed Redd that he would be sentenced, under the plea agreement, to two determinate sentences of eight years and five years, to run concurrently. Approximately one week after the plea, Redd moved pro se to withdraw his guilty plea to the weapon-possession count. In that motion, he acknowledged that the court had advised him of his rights, but that he nevertheless had not realized the full consequences of pleading guilty. Redd wrote into the motion form that he "was being ...


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