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Washington v. Taylor

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 15, 2013

BRANDON WASHINGTON, Petitioner,
v.
JUSTIN A. TAYLOR, Respondent.

DECISION AND ORDER

MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Pro se Petitioner Brandon Washington ("Petitioner" or "Washington") has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging the constitutionality of his custody pursuant to a judgment entered May 17, 2004, in New York State, County Court, Monroe County, convicting him, upon a plea of guilty, of Manslaughter in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") § 125.20[1]).

For the reasons that follow, the writ of habeas corpus is denied and the petition is dismissed.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

A Monroe County Grand Jury charged Petitioner in a three-count indictment with Murder in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 125.25[1]) (intentional murder), Murder in the Second Degree (Penal law § 125.25[2]) (depraved indifference murder), and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (Penal Law § 265.03[2]). See Resp't Ex. D (Monroe County Ind. No. 00477 dated October 2, 2003). The charges arose from an incident that occurred on the evening of September 16, 2003 at 67 Scranton Street in Rochester, New York, wherein Petitioner shot and killed Cornell Douglas ("Douglas") during an argument over a sum of money that Petitioner had given to Douglas to purchase marijuana. Plea Mins. [P.M.] 6-8.

On March 17, 2004, Petitioner appeared before Monroe County Court Judge John J. Connell and entered a plea of guilty to Manslaughter in the First Degree (Penal Law § 125.20[1]) under the first count of the indictment. P.M. 7-8. That same day, the county court sentenced Petitioner, in accordance with the plea agreement, to a determine term of fourteen years imprisonment, along with five years of post-release supervision. See Resp't Ex. B at 14 (Sentencing Mins.).

Petitioner filed a counseled brief on direct appeal in the Appellate Division, Fourth Department on the following grounds: (1) that he did not waive his right to appeal the harshness of his sentence; and (2) that his sentence was harsh and excessive. See Resp't Ex. C. Petitioner also submitted a pro se supplemental brief arguing that: (1) his guilty plea was not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently made because the county court and his attorney failed to inform him that "part of his sentence included" post-release supervision; (2) his guilty plea and sentence should be set aside because he was not properly informed of the term of post-release supervision; (3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel; and (4) the sentence was "vindictive, harsh and severe, " and failed to take various factors in account. See Resp't Ex. F.

The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the judgement of conviction on March 14, 2008, finding that Petitioner's claims were meritless. See People v. Washington , 49 A.D.3d 1241 (4th Dep't 2008) (Resp't Ex. H). Leave to appeal was denied on May 19, 2008. People v. Washington, 10 N.Y.3d 872 (2008) (Resp't Ex. K).

In a motion dated September 23, 2009, Petitioner moved, pursuant to N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law ("C.P.L.") § 440.10, to vacate his judgment of conviction on the grounds that: (1) the sentencing court violated the plea agreement by sentencing Petitioner outside the range agreed upon at the plea hearing because the county court imposed post-release supervision in addition to the prison sentence; and (2) the guilty plea was involuntary because the court failed to "explicitly explain" to Petitioner at the plea hearing "what post-release supervision is, " and that post-release supervision would be imposed on top of the prison sentence. See Resp't Ex. L. The county court denied Petitioner's motion on September 28, 2009, finding that Petitioner's claims were mertiless. See Resp't Ex. M. Leave to appeal was denied on April 6, 2010. See Resp't Ex. P. Petitioner moved for reargument, which was denied on June 10, 2010. See Resp't Ex. T. Petitioner then applied for leave to appeal, and the New York Court of Appeals dismissed the leave application because the order "sought to be appealed is not appealable." People v. Washington , 15 N.Y.3d 810 (2010) (Resp't Ex. V).

On June 15, 2011, Petitioner filed a motion, pursuant to C.P.L. § 440.20, to set aside the sentence, asserting the same arguments raised in his C.P.L. § 440.10 motion. See Resp't Ex. W. The county court denied the motion, pursuant to C.P.L. § 440.10(3)(a), (b), finding that the claims had already been raised and denied on direct appeal and in Petitioner's C.P.L. § 440.10 motion. See Resp't Ex. Z. Leave to appeal was denied on November 16, 2011. See Resp't Ex. CC. Petitioner then applied for leave to appeal, and the New York Court of Appeals dismissed Petitioner's application on December 14, 2011 "because the order sought to be appealed from is not appealable." People v. Washington, 18 N.Y.3d 862 (2011) (Resp't Ex. EE).

The instant habeas corpus petition, which was filed on March 7, 2012, [1] followed, in which Petitioner seeks relief on the following grounds: (1) his guilty plea was "unlawfully induced" because the county court promised to sentence him to the "lower part of the range between 10 and 18 years including the 5 years of PRS, " but ultimately sentenced him to "14 years with 5 years PRS, which is a total of 19 years"; (2) the plea agreement was "not voluntarily made with full understanding of the consequences of the plea, " because the county court "failed to explicitly explain to the petitioner during the plea what PRS is, and the ramifications of PRS"; (3) "[t]he trial court imposed an invalid sentence, " "forc[ing] the Petitioner to serve[] incarceration beyond and outside the agreed upon sentencing range"; and (4) "[t]he trial court imposed an illegal sentence, " because "PRS should have been included in the Petitioner's sentence as mandated and agreed upon, " and the county court also improperly precluded Petitioner's C.P.L. § 440.20 motion on procedural grounds. See Pet. at § 22 (Dkt. No. 1). Respondent filed an Answer and Memorandum in Opposition to the habeas petition (Dkt. Nos. 7, 8). Petitioner did not file a Traverse thereto.

III. Timeliness

(A) AEDPA's One-Year Statute of ...


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