The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge
Reginald Taylor ("Taylor" or "Petitioner") has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging that he is being held in state custody in violation of his constitutional rights. Taylor was convicted by guilty plea in Supreme Court of Erie County, New York, to one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and one count of violating the terms of his probation.
II. Factual Background and Procedural History
On April 17, 2009, Taylor and his co-defendant Kenneth Pettway ("Pettway") were charged in a single-count indictment with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree (N.Y. Penal Law § 265.03(3)). The charge stemmed from an allegation that on February 11, 2009, Taylor and Pettway were in possession of a loaded pistol found in a vehicle in which they had been riding. Taylor also was charged with violating the terms of his probation which had been imposed for a previous felony conviction.
Following a suppression hearing, the trial court (Buscaglia, J.) ruled that the police had acted properly in stopping and searching Taylor's vehicle, and that the pistol would not be suppressed.
Taylor pleaded guilty on October 16, 2009, to attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. One of the stated conditions of the plea agreement was that Taylor waive his right to appeal. During the colloquy and prior to the entry of the plea, trial counsel stated that Taylor wished to reserve his right to appeal the denial of the suppression motion. Ultimately, however, Taylor agreed to enter his plea according to the originally stated conditions--that is, with a waiver of his appellate rights.
On February 19, 2010, Taylor pleaded guilty to violating the terms of his probation for which he was sentenced to five years of imprisonment and three years of post-release supervision. This sentence was set to run concurrently with his sentence of five years of incarceration and five years of post-release supervision for the attempted weapons-possession conviction.
On direct appeal, Taylor argued that he did not effectively waive any challenge to the trial court's suppression ruling; the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress; the probation violation conviction should be reversed because it, and the underlying charge, were based on improper police conduct; and the sentence for the probation violation conviction was unduly harsh and excessive and should be modified in the interests of justice.
The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, of New York State Supreme Court unanimously affirmed both convictions on September 30, 2011. People v. Taylor, 87 A.D.3d 1310, 930 N.Y.S.2d 336 (4th Dept. 2011). Leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals was denied on December 1, 2011. People v. Taylor, 18 N.Y.3d 362 (2011).
This timely habeas petition followed in which Taylor raises the same grounds for relief as he asserted on his direct appeal. For the reasons that follow, Taylor's request for a writ of habeas corpus is denied, and the petition is dismissed.
A. Validity of Appellate Rights Waiver
Petitioner contends, as he did on direct appeal, that the record does not establish that the appellate rights waiver precluded him from challenging the suppression ruling. In the alternative, Petitioner argues, if the waiver is interpreted preclude review of the suppression issue, then it is invalid because the record does ...