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Boyd Heslop v. Dale Artus

December 14, 2012

BOYD HESLOP, PETITIONER,
v.
DALE ARTUS, SUPERINTENDENT, CLINTON CORR. FACILITY, RESPONDENT.



DECISION and ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court following a Report-Recommendation filed on March 22, 2012, by the Honorable Randolph F. Treece, United States Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and L.R. 72.3(c) of the Northern District of New York. Dkt. No. 12 ("Report-Recommendation"). After fourteen days from the service thereof, the Clerk has sent the entire file to the undersigned, including the Objections by Petitioner Boyd Heslop ("Petitioner"), which were filed on June 18, 2012. Dkt. No. 14 ("Objections").

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Report-Recommendation

The Court is to "make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). Where, however, an objecting "party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates his original arguments, the Court reviews the Report and Recommendation only for clear error." Farid v. Bouey, 554 F. Supp. 2d 301, 307 (N.D.N.Y. 2008) (quoting McAllan v. Von Essen, 517 F. Supp. 2d 672, 679 (S.D.N.Y. 2007)) (citations and quotations omitted); see alsoBrown v. Peters, No. 95-CV-1641, 1997 WL 599355, at *2-3 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 1997). "[W]here 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, reviewing courts should review a report and recommendation for clear error." McAllen, 517 F. Supp. at 679 (quoting Edwards v. Fischer, 414 F. Supp. 2d 342, 346-47 (S.D.N.Y. 2006). "A [district] judge . . . may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

B. Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

"When a state court adjudicates a habeas petitioner's claim on the merits, [the court] must afford that decision the deferential standard of review established by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ('AEDPA') in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)." Hawkins v. Costello, 460 F.3d 238, 242 (2d Cir. 2006) (citing Sellan v. Kuhlman, 261 F.3d 303, 310-11 (2d Cir. 2001)). Under deferential AEDPA review, a court may grant a writ of habeas corpus if the state court's adjudication on the merits either: (1) "was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established, Federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;" 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); 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." Id. § 2254(d)(2).

The petitioner bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he is "in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." Id. § 2254(a); Jones v. Vacco, 126 F.3d 408, 415 (2d Cir. 1997). Further, under the AEDPA, "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); see also DeBerry v. Portuondo, 403 F.3d 57, 66 (2d Cir. 2005); Boyette v. LeFevre, 246 F.3d 76, 88 (2d Cir. 2001).

A state court decision is "contrary to" federal law if it "arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the U.S. Supreme] Court on a question of law" or if it "decides a case differently than [the U.S. Supreme] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000). "Unreasonableness is determined by an 'objective' standard." Gersten v. Senkowski, 426 F.3d 588, 607 (2d Cir. 2005) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 409), cert. denied, 547 U.S. 1191 (2006). "An incorrect decision is not necessarily unreasonable. Instead, we look for '[s]ome increment of incorrectness beyond error.'" Hawkins, 460 F.3d at 243 (quoting Francis S. v. Stone, 221 F.3d 100, 111 (2d Cir. 2000)).

Further, the Second Circuit has enumerated three guiding questions that courts should ask in determining if habeas relief is appropriate: 1) Was the principle of Supreme Court case law relied upon in the habeas petition "clearly established" when the state court ruled? 2) If so, was the state court's decision "contrary to" that established Supreme Court precedent? 3) If not, did the state court's decision constitute an "unreasonable application" of that principle?

Williams v. Artuz, 237 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2001) (citing Francis S., 221 F.3d at 108-09).

III. DISCUSSION

Here, Petitioner's Objections are laid out in the form of a full memorandum of law, including sections on background and procedural history. The sections in Petitioner's Objections mirror the sections in the Report-Recommendation -- and in some cases, including the Standard of Review, copy the Report-Recommendation nearly verbatim. Compare Report-Rec. at 7-8, with Obj. at 8-9. Petitioner does not point to any specific findings of law or fact in the Report-Recommendation that he is objecting to. However, Petitioner's Objections do include lengthy legal analysis of: (1) whether the evidence supporting Petitioner's conviction was legally sufficient; and (2) whether Petitioner's due process rights were violated when the trial court denied his request for a lesser included offense. In light of Petitioner's pro se status, the Court construes his submissions liberally to conclude that he seeks to object, specifically, to these two sections of ...


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