IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
September 13, 2012
JONATHAN ROSADO, PETITIONER,
MICHAEL CAPRA,*FN1 SUPERINTENDENT, SING SING CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, RESPONDENT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: James K. Singleton, Jr. United States District Judge
Jonathan Rosado, a state prisoner appearing pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Rosado is currently in the custody of the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Respondent has answered, and Rosado has replied.
I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS
In July 2005, following his conviction by two separate juries of Assault in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal Law §§ 20.00, 120.10 ), Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (N.Y. Penal Law § 265.03), and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (N.Y. Penal Law § 265.03), Rosado was sentenced in the Broome County Court as a second felony offender to an aggregate prison term of twenty-five years. The Appellate Division, Third Department, affirmed Rosado's conviction and sentence in a published decision, and the New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal on November 30, 2007.*fn2 On January 6, 2009, Rosado, appearing pro se, filed a coram nobis petition in the Appellate Division, which was summarily denied without opinion or citation to authority on February 24, 2009, and the New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal on May 18, 2009. Rosado timely filed his Petition for relief in this Court on June 1, 2009.
As summarized by the Appellate Division, the facts underlying Rosado's conviction:
 Those charges stemmed from an incident in May 2004 in which [Rosado] waived a gun out the window of a moving vehicle at two women, who flagged down police; when the vehicle was stopped, police observed and recovered two loaded firearms, a .22 caliber pistol and the .32 caliber revolver which [Rosado] had displayed from the car window. While in custody, [Rosado] gave a statement to police admitting the charged conduct, as well as his role in an August 2003 shooting for which he was subsequently indicted and tried. At the second trial, various witnesses, including [Rosado's] accomplice, testified that [Rosado] had orchestrated an assault on Anthony Tillman in retaliation for Tillman having previously shot [Rosado].*fn3
II. GROUNDS RAISED/DEFENSES
In his Petition, Rosado raises four claims: (1) the trial court denied him his Sixth Amendment right to conduct his own defense (self-representation); (2) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; (3) the convictions were obtained by the use of a coerced confession; and (4) the assault conviction was against the weight of the evidence. Respondent contends that Rosado's first (denial of right to self-representation), second (ineffective assistance of trial counsel), and fourth (assault conviction), claims are unexhausted and procedurally barred; and that his third (coercion) claim is unexhausted. In his Traverse Rosado does not address Respondent's failure to exhaust defense. In his Petition, however, Rosado appears to concede the exhaustion issue, but contends it was because appellate counsel was ineffective. Because prisoner pro se pleadings are given the benefit of liberal construction,*fn4 this Court will treat Rosado's ineffective assistance of appellate counsel argument as a fifth ground and proceed accordingly.*fn5
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), this Court cannot grant relief unless the decision of the state court was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" at the time the state court renders its decision or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding."*fn6 The Supreme Court has explained that "clearly established Federal law" in § 2254(d)(1) "refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme Court] as of the time of the relevant state-court decision."*fn7 The holding must also be intended to be binding upon the states; that is, the decision must be based upon constitutional grounds, not on the supervisory power of the Supreme Court over federal courts.*fn8 Thus, where holdings of the Supreme Court regarding the issue presented on habeas review are lacking, "it cannot be said that the state court 'unreasonabl[y] appli[ed] clearly established Federal law.'"*fn9 When a claim falls under the "unreasonable application" prong, a state court's application of Supreme Court precedent must be "objectively unreasonable," not just "incorrect or erroneous."*fn10 The Supreme Court has made clear that the objectively unreasonable standard is "a substantially higher threshold" than simply believing that the state-court determination was incorrect.*fn11 "[A]bsent a specific constitutional violation, federal habeas corpus review of trial error is limited to whether the error 'so infected the trial with unfairness as to make the resulting conviction a denial of due process.'"*fn12 In a federal habeas proceeding, the standard under which this Court must assess the prejudicial impact of constitutional error in a state court criminal trial is whether the error had a substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the outcome.*fn13 Rosado"bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that his constitutional rights have been violated."*fn14
The Supreme Court recently underscored the magnitude of the deference required:
As amended by AEDPA, § 2254(d) stops short of imposing a complete bar on federal court relitigation of claims already rejected in state proceedings. Cf. Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 664, 116 S.Ct. 2333, 135 L.Ed.2d 827 (1996) (discussing AEDPA's "modified res judicata rule" under § 2244). It preserves authority to issue the writ in cases where there is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's decision conflicts with this Court's precedents. It goes no farther. Section 2254(d) reflects the view that habeas corpus is a "guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems," not a substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 332, n.5, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979) (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment). As a condition for obtaining habeas corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.*fn15
In applying this standard, this Court reviews the "last reasoned decision" by the state court.*fn16 Under AEDPA, the state court's findings of fact are presumed to be correct unless the petitioner rebuts this presumption by clear and convincing evidence.*fn17 Although pre-AEDPA precedent established that deference is due to the findings of state appellate courts,*fn18 the Second Circuit has left the question open with respect to AEDPA cases.*fn19 In the absence of a clear indication from the Second Circuit to the contrary, this Court can find no principled reason not to apply the same rule in the context of AEDPA, i.e., findings of a state appellate court are presumed to be correct.
This Court may not consider claims that have not been fairly presented to the state courts.*fn20 Unexhausted claims must be dismissed.*fn21 The claim must have been presented to the highest state court that may consider the issue presented.*fn22 "[F]or purposes of exhausting state remedies, a claim for relief in habeas corpus must include reference to a specific federal constitutional guarantee, as well as a statement of facts that entitle the petitioner to relief."*fn23 A
mere appeal to a broad constitutional guarantee, e.g., due process, is insufficient to present the substance of a constitutional claim to the state courts.*fn24 A petitioner satisfies the fair presentation aspect of the exhaustion requirement by presenting the essential factual and legal premises of his federal constitutional claim to the appropriate state courts.*fn25 An issue is exhausted when the substance of the federal claim is clearly raised and decided in the state court proceedings, irrespective of the label used.*fn26 Exhaustion does not require that Rosado have cited the "book and verse on the federal constitution."*fn27 A petitioner who does not cite the "book and verse of the Constitution" may nonetheless "fairly present to the state courts the constitutional nature of his claim" through:
(a) reliance on pertinent federal cases employing constitutional analysis, (b) reliance on state cases employing constitutional analysis in like fact situations, (c) assertion of the claim in terms so particular as to call to mind a specific right protected by the Constitution, and (d) allegation of a pattern of facts that is well within the mainstream of constitutional litigation.*fn28
In New York, to invoke one complete round of the State's established
appellate process, a criminal defendant must first appeal his or her
conviction to the Appellate Division and then seek further review by
applying to the Court of Appeals for leave to appeal.*fn29
Claims are fairly presented to the New York Court of Appeals
when the application for leave to appeal clearly states that all
claims in the attached brief are being pressed, or no arguments are
made in detail and the application simply requests review of all
issues outlined in the brief.*fn30 Where the
application for leave to appeal refers to specific claims raised
before the Appellate Division but
omits mention of others, the unmentioned claims are deemed
abandoned.*fn31 Where the application for leave to
appeal argues one or more specific claims but only makes a passing
reference to possible other claims found in the attached briefs, the
claims mentioned in passing have not been fairly presented to the
Court of Appeals.*fn32
Even if a federal claim has not been properly presented to the highest state court or preserved under state law, it will be deemed exhausted if it has become procedurally barred under state law.*fn33
In the case of procedural default (including where an unexhausted claim no longer can proceed in state court), we may reach the merits of the claim "only if the defendant can first demonstrate either cause and actual prejudice, or that he is actually innocent."*fn34
However, the Court need not rely on this basis as it may deny the petition on the merits notwithstanding the lack of exhaustion of state-court remedies,*fn35 particularly where the ground raised is plainly meritless.*fn36
In his petition for a writ of error coram nobis in the Appellate Division, Rosado challenged the effectiveness of his appellate counsel in failing to raise on appeal his first (denial of right of self-representation) and second (ineffective trial counsel) grounds. In his application for leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals Rosado included only the failure of his appellate counsel to raise the claim that he had been improperly denied his right of self-representation. Rosado did not raise his third ground (use of a coerced confession) on either direct appeal or in his coram nobis petition. Thus, because they have not been presented to the highest state court in any form, Rosado's second (ineffective assistance of trial counsel) and third (use of a coerced confession) grounds have not been properly exhausted. Accordingly, this Court is not only precluded from considering them on the merits, it is also precluded from considering Rosado's ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim based upon the failure to raise those issues. Rosado is not entitled to relief under his second and third grounds.
Ground 1: Denial of Right to Self-Representation (Sixth Amendment Violation)
Rosado contends that the trial court improperly denied his request that he be permitted to fire his trial counsel and proceed to defend himself pro se. Respondent contends that because Rosado did not raise the denial of his right to self-representation on direct appeal, he has failed to properly exhaust his state-court remedies. Although this Court agrees that Rosado did not raise the question on direct appeal, he did exhaust his claim that his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the claim. Thus, as noted above, in order for this Court to determine whether his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to present his Sixth Amendment claim on direct appeal, this Court must assess the validity of the underlying claim.*fn37
Neither the Appellate Division nor the New York Court of Appeals provided any reasoning for rejecting Rosado's claim. A state court is not required to give reasons before its decision can be deemed to be "adjudicated on the merits."*fn38 When there is no reasoned state court decision denying an issue presented to the state courts "it may be presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles to the contrary."*fn39 "The presumption may be overcome when there is reason to think that some other explanation for the state court's decision is more likely."*fn40
Where there is no reasoned decision of the state court addressing the ground or grounds raised on the merits and no independent state grounds exist for not addressing those grounds, this Court must decide the issues de novo on the record before it.*fn41 In so doing the Court presumes that the state court decided the claim on the merits and the decision rested on federal grounds.*fn42
This Court gives the presumed decision of the state court the same AEDPA deference that it would give a reasoned decision of the state court.*fn43
The record reflects that Rosado first broached the subject of replacing counsel at a pre-trial hearing preceding the first trial on December 3, 2004.
THE DEFENDANT: Excuse me, can I say something?
THE COURT: Oh, sure.
THE DEFENDANT: Can I get more time? I am getting another lawyer. THE COURT: Well, you have a right to hire an attorney any time you want, Mr. Rosado. Mr. Scanlon has been assigned, yes?
MR. SCANLON: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Here is where we are: You can, as I said, you can retain an attorney any time you want. We are going to schedule this for trial and it's going to go to trial on that date whether you have a new attorney or not. So, any
THE DEFENDANT: Okay.
THE COURT: (Continuing) -- any attorney that you retain, if that happens is going to have to be able to try the case on that date or he is not going to be handling the case. The reason for that is simple. If a defendant were to have the right to say, Judge, I'm getting a new attorney, and now you have to keep postponing the trial. You could keep getting new attorneys and we would never try the case. You were arraigned on this indictment June 16th, almost six months ago. So, you have had plenty of time, if you wanted to hire an attorney, to do so. So, I will not -- I will permit it but it's conditioned, it will be conditioned upon this attorney, whoever it is being able to go to trial on the date that I give.*fn44
Thereafter, the first matter went to trial, in which Rosado was convicted. On February 14, 2005, at a pre-trial conference in the second matter the following occurred.
THE DEFENDANT: Can I say something?
THE COURT: Certainly.
THE DEFENDANT: Can I fire my lawyer please?
THE COURT: No.
THE DEFENDANT: Can I represent myself because that's what I'm doing anyway? I mean, all he does, he doesn't do anything for me, he didn't put my motions in, you have to scream at him because he didn't put no motions.
THE COURT: I've got them right here.
THE DEFENDANT: You had to scream to him for five or ten minutes straight. First of all, he barely comes there to see me, all he does is talk about I highly recommend that you take this offer. Come on.
THE COURT: That's his advice?
THE DEFENDANT: His advice? There's so much stuff in this case that has to be looked at that has to be looked at. He hasn't asked me about nothing, nothing. He don't come up there to talk to me about the case.
THE COURT: Mr. Rosado, you're entitled to assigned counsel. Mr. Scanlon represents defendants in this court on a regular basis. He's done so for many years. He's competent counsel and he will be preparing this case for trial. You had substantial exposure, have substantial exposure, given the there's multiple indictments, two indictments pending against you. You went to trial in the last indictment, you were convicted. This offer that's been made by the People would satisfy in effect both cases. You don't want it, that's not a problem. Mr. Scanlon will prepare this case for trial and it will be scheduled accordingly. I'm telling you right now work with Mr. Scanlon and he will be doing whatever needs to be done to prepare this charge for trial.
THE DEFENDANT: How come I can't go pro se?
THE COURT: The problem with going pro se, you're entitled, any defendant is entitled to represent himself. The problem with that is you are not familiar with the statutes, the laws of the State of New York. You're not familiar with the rules of evidence. You don't know how to pick a jury, so to speak, in the first place. Representing yourself would be a very, very bad mistake on your part and I would strongly recommend you not do it because why, you don't know how to do it. That's like saying bad analogy, but that's like saying to a doctor why don't you operate on yourself, you're a brain surgeon, take care of yourself, he can't, he goes to another doctor.
THE DEFENDANT: But I know about what's going on in this case and I know how to ask questions.
THE COURT: What you can do is questions you want asked when the appropriate time comes, whether it's during jury selection or during the actual conduct of the trial when the witnesses are on the stand, you write those questions out and there will be no doubt about it, Mr. Scanlon will ask those questions of the witnesses.
THE DEFENDANT: I did that. He didn't ask the questions.
THE COURT: I'm telling you he will do that. That's assuming that the questions that you want to ask are legal or admissible questions, competent questions. You can't ask any question of any witness you want. It has to be a proper question. It has to be relevant, had has to be properly phrased. You don't know how to phrase questions, you don't know the rules of evidence as I pointed out but if you have a point that you want to be brought out through a witness and you want a witness to be asked about a particular event or a fact or a time, Mr. Scanlon will phrase that correctly and he'll ask it for you and during the course of the trial, if there is a problem and you want something asked, you can raise your hand and you and I and your attorney will talk up here privately outside the presence of the jury and we will make certain that it's covered, if it's legal to have it covered. Do you understand what I'm saying?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: All right, You'll get a trial notice.*fn45
The next point at which Rosado raised the issue of the quality of counsel's representation was on May 31, 2005, the first day of the second trial.
THE COURT: Noted. What's up?
THE DEFENDANT: I told you before I'm not very comfortable with this lawyer right here. I feel like he's working more against me than with me, and he's proved it many times.
Plus this is my life right here. I'm facing attempted murders. Doesn't come see me or nothing or talk to me about no cases on. I've been in the jail a year. He came to see me seven or eight times. I've got a list of people I want to subpoena to trial.
THE COURT: And he's going to be taking that for you with his investigator. If your request is for an adjournment and new trial, it's denied.
THE DEFENDANT: What I'm saying is today -- I haven't been able to give him my list of names until today.
THE COURT: Well, I've had a conference with your attorney and the prosecutor moments ago and he indicated that at his most recent conversation with him you gave him this list of witnesses. He also indicates he's given you all of the paperwork he's received from the original -- from the time this case was originally filed up to date, including lead sheets, et cetera.
Is that true, he's given you these records?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: And you've had these records since then; in fact, right after you were arrested.
Here is what you are going to do. Continue to work with Mr. Scanlon. He's going to represent you. I've already indicated if he needs an additional investigator assigned to assist him in locating these witnesses, that's not a problem.
THE DEFENDANT: You are going to make sure these witnesses come? THE COURT: You have to find them and serve them first. Nonetheless, we're going to go ahead and pick a jury today. You can step back.
Do you have a list of witnesses?
MR. SCANLON: No, sir. I just received it today. I can give it to the Court in just a moment.
THE COURT: Very well. Thank you.*fn46
Rosado does not identify any other point at which he broached the subject of self-representation, and this Court's review of the record does not reveal that Rosado made any other request.
Because it is the criminal defendant who personally bears the consequences of conviction, he or she has an independent constitutional right of self-representation under the Sixth Amendment.*fn47 A criminal defendant may proceed to defend himself or herself without counsel when he or she voluntarily and intelligently elects to do so.*fn48 The competency standard for waiving the right to counsel is the same as the competency standard for standing trial: whether the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings.*fn49 The Supreme Court has made clear that the ability to represent oneself, i.e., "technical legal knowledge," has no bearing on a defendant's competence to choose self-representation.*fn50 Thus, a defendant has the right to proceed without the assistance of counsel, "provided only that he knowingly and intelligently [waives] his right to counsel and that he is able and willing to abide by [the] rules of procedure and courtroom protocol."*fn51
Second Circuit case law makes clear that a defendant who elects to
forego the assistance of counsel "must make a timely and unequivocal
request" to the trial court to proceed pro se.*fn52
If "a defendant's request to proceed pro se is informed, voluntary and
unequivocal, '[t]he right of a defendant to act as his own lawyer is
unqualified if invoked prior to the start of trial.'"*fn53
On the other hand, "[d]istinct considerations bear upon
requests made after trial has begun."*fn54
After trial has begun, a trial court faced with such an application must balance the legitimate interests of the defendant in self-representation against the potential disruption of the proceedings already in progress. In exercising this discretion, the appropriate criteria for a trial judge to consider are the defendant's reasons for the self-representation request, the quality of counsel representing the party, and the party's prior proclivity to substitute counsel.*fn55
The December 3, 2004, request was clearly not an unequivocal request that Rosado be permitted to represent himself. The February 14, 2005, request does not present as clear a picture. Although it appears that at the beginning of the colloquy Rosado unequivocally requested that he be allowed to proceed pro se, the colloquy as a whole does not. Faretta-Moran- McKaskle require that prior to permitting an accused to discharge counsel and appear pro se, the accused must be advised of the consequences of waiving the right to counsel and proceeding pro se. The trial court did advise Rosado of the consequences, including the pitfalls and dangers involved in self-representation. At the conclusion of the trial court's advisement, Rosado merely acknowledged that he understood the consequences of his self-representation, but never indicated at that point that he nevertheless wished to represent himself. Rosado's actions at the conclusion of the advisement were certainly not unequivocal.*fn56 The next point at which Rosado raised the issue, on May 31, 2005, the first day of trial, simply reveals a continued dissatisfaction with the representation he was receiving, but was not an unequivocal request that he be permitted to represent himself.
The failure of appellate counsel to raise meritless or weak issues
does not constitute ineffective assistance of counsel.*fn57
Applying that rule, this Court cannot say that in rejecting
Rosado's ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the state courts
erred in determining that Rosado's claim that the trial court violated
his Sixth Amendment right to represent himself did not have sufficient
merit such that the failure of his appellate counsel to raise it on
appeal constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the
record before it, this Court cannot say that the assumed decisions of
the Appellate Division and New York Court of Appeals were "contrary
to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established
Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States"
at the time the state courts rendered their decisions or were "based
on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence
presented in the State court proceeding."*fn58 Rosado
is not entitled to relief under his first ground.
Ground 4: Assault Conviction
Rosado contends that his conviction for first-degree assault was unsupported by the weight of the evidence. Specifically, Rosado points to numerous instances that he contends show that the evidence was either internally conflicting or contradictory. Respondent contends that the weight-of-the-evidence test is a matter of state law, beyond the purview of this Court in a federal habeas proceeding.
Under New York law, the Appellate Division employs two standards of
review-legal sufficiency and weight of the evidence.*fn59
Although related, each requires a discrete analysis. Under
the legal-sufficiency standard, the Appellate Division must determine
whether "after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential
elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt."*fn60
Under the weight-of-the-evidence standard, the court must examine the
evidence further. If, based upon all the credible evidence, a
different finding would not have been unreasonable, the Appellate
Division must, giving deference to the jury on credibility, weigh the
relative probative force of the conflicting testimony and the relative
strength of conflicting inferences that may be drawn from the
testimony.*fn61 In determining the weight of the
evidence, the Appellate Division determines credibility issues; it
must assess the evidence in light of the elements of the crime
as charged to the jury.*fn62 That is, the Appellate
Division "must consider the elements of the crime, for even if the
prosecution's witnesses were credible their testimony must prove the
elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt."*fn63
A verdict that satisfies the legally sufficient test may nevertheless
be against the weight of the evidence.*fn64
A "weight of the evidence" argument is purely a state law claim grounded in the criminal procedure statute, whereas a legal sufficiency claim is based on federal due process principles. Since a "weight of the evidence claim" is purely a matter of state law, it is not cognizable on habeas review. In making a "weight of the evidence" argument, Rosado has not asserted a federal claim; instead, he has raised an error of state law, for which habeas review is not available.*fn65 Even if this Court were to treat Rosado's fourth ground as a fully exhausted federal sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim, Rosado would not prevail.
The Appellate Division rejected Rosado's weight-of-the-evidence argument:
Turning to [Rosado's] contention addressed to his second trial, that the conviction of assault in the first degree was not supported by the weight of credible evidence, we have independently reviewed the conflicting testimony and evidence in a neutral light and are not persuaded to disturb the jury's credibility determinations or verdict. [Rosado's] conviction was predicated on the testimony of several witnesses, as well as his confession, all establishing that he orchestrated and ordered the retaliatory assault on Tillman. Although Tillman and the actual shooter, who was separately tried, did not testify, [Rosado's] female accomplice testified to following [Rosado's] plan whereby she met up with Tillman and they were driven to a parking lot; she kept [Rosado] informed via cell phone, enabling another accomplice-the shooter-to approach the parked vehicle and shoot Tillman.
Neither the accomplice's substantial delay in identifying the shooter and admitting her own role in the assault (which she ultimately revealed to police in May 2004), nor the fact that she testified in exchange for a favorable disposition of the serious charges against her, all of which were highlighted to the jury, rendered her testimony unworthy of belief or incredible. Indeed, her account was consistent with and corroborated by other witness accounts and [Rosado's] own signed confession to police which was admitted at trial. [Rosado's] trial testimony, in which he tried to disavow his confession and denied any role in this attack, was implausible, inconsistent and not particularly worthy of belief. In light of the conflicting testimony, although a different finding might not have been unreasonable, we discern no grounds upon which to disturb the jury's resolution of credibility determinations and do not find that the jury failed to give the evidence the weight it deserved.*fn66
Under Jackson, the constitutional standard for sufficiency of the evidence is whether, "after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt."*fn67 This Court must, therefore, determine whether the decision of the Appellate Division constituted an unreasonable application of Jackson. In making this determination, this Court may not usurp the role of the finder of fact by considering how it would have resolved any conflicts in the evidence, made the inferences, or considered the evidence at trial.*fn68 Rather, when "faced with a record of historical facts that supports conflicting inferences," this Court "must presume-even if it does not affirmatively appear in the record-that the trier of fact resolved any such conflicts in favor of the prosecution, and defer to that resolution."*fn69
Rosado's argument misperceives the role of a federal court in a habeas proceeding challenging a state-court conviction. It is a fundamental precept of dual federalism that the states possess primary authority for defining and enforcing the criminal law.*fn70 Consequently, although the sufficiency of the evidence review by this Court is grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment, it must undertake its inquiry by reference to the elements of the crime as set forth in state law.*fn71
Unlike the Appellate Division applying the New York "weight-of-the-evidence" test, this Court is precluded from either re-weighing the evidence or assessing the credibility of witnesses. Under Jackson, the role of this Court is to simply determine whether there is any evidence, if accepted as credible by the jury, sufficient to sustain a conviction of the crime as prescribed by state law.*fn72
In this case, the Appellate Division, a state court, found that there
was sufficient evidence of each element of the crime to support the
conviction under state law. Although it might have been possible to
draw a different inference from the evidence, this Court is required
to resolve that conflict in favor of the prosecution.*fn73
Rosado bears the burden of establishing by clear and
convincing evidence that these factual findings were
erroneous;*fn74 a burden Rosado has failed to carry.
The record does not compel the conclusion that no rational trier of
fact could have found proof of guilt, especially considering the
double deference owed under Jackson and AEDPA. Rosado is not entitled
to relief under his fourth ground.
V. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Rosado is not entitled to relief on any ground raised in his Petition.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT the Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the Court declines to issue a Certificate of Appealability.*fn75 Any further request for a Certificate of Appealability must be addressed to the Court of Appeals.*fn76
The Clerk of the Court is to enter judgment accordingly.
James K. Singleton, Jr.