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Williams v. Kelly

United States District Court, Second Circuit

December 4, 2013

SHAKA D. WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
CHARLES KELLY, [1] Superintendent, Marcy Correctional Facility, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

JAMES K. SINGLETON, Jr., District Judge.

Shaka D. Williams, a New York state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Williams is currently in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and is incarcerated at Marcy Correctional Facility. Respondent has answered. Williams has not replied.

I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

In satisfaction of a four-count indictment, Williams pled guilty to criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree in exchange for receiving an indeterminate term of six years' imprisonment followed by three years of post-release supervision. In further consideration of the plea, the prosecution agreed to forgo potential prosecutions for first-degree perjury resulting from Williams's grand jury testimony and a felony charge for first-degree bail jumping.

Williams pled guilty and was adjudicated as a second felony offender. The court sentenced Williams to six years' imprisonment followed by three years of post-release supervision in accordance with the plea agreement.

On appeal, Williams was represented by counsel who filed a brief requesting to be relieved of his assignment because there were no meritorious or non-frivolous issues to appeal. Williams then filed a pro se supplemental brief arguing that his plea was not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered, his plea allocution was legally insufficient because it did not demonstrate the requisite mental state to sell cocaine, and his statement at the plea allocution that he was the "muscle" during the transaction was ambiguous. The Appellate Division agreed that there were no meritorious or non-frivolous issues to be raised, granted counsel's leave to withdraw, and affirmed Williams's conviction.

Williams then filed a pro se application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals, which the court summarily denied.

Williams timely filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court.

II. ISSUES RAISED

Williams argues in his Petition before this Court that: 1) his guilty plea was not knowing, intelligent and voluntary where, at the plea hearing, the court failed to inquire into the facts supporting the charge; and 2) he was denied the effective assistance of counsel where trial counsel failed to object to the insufficiency of the plea allocution.

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, " § 2254(d)(1), or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding, " § 2254(d)(2). A state-court decision is "contrary" to federal law "if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth" in controlling Supreme Court authority or "if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision" of the Supreme Court, but nevertheless arrives at a different result. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 406 (2000).

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, " Williams, 529 U.S. at 412, and not circuit precedent, see Renico v. Lett, 130 S.Ct. 1855, 1865-66 (2010). The holding must also be intended to be binding upon the states; that is, the decision must be based upon constitutional grounds and not on the supervisory power of the Supreme Court over federal courts. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 10 (2002). 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.'" Carey v. Musladin, 549 U.S. 70, 77 (2006) (citation omitted). In applying these standards in habeas review, this Court reviews this "last reasoned decision" by the state court. Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 804 (1991); Jones v. Stinson, 229 F.3d 112, 118 ...


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