Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Carter v. Chappius

United States District Court, Second Circuit

December 13, 2013

NATSU CARTER, Petitioner,
v.
PAUL CHAPPIUS, [1] Superintendent, Elmira Correctional Facility, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

JAMES K. SINGLETON, Jr., District Judge.

Natsu Carter, 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. Carter is currently in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and is incarcerated at Elmira Correctional Facility. Respondent has answered. Carter has not replied.

I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

On May 16, 2002, John Turner was severely beaten outside a bar. The attack left him in a coma for two weeks and caused him permanent damage. On May 30, 2002, a Cayuga County Grand Jury charged Carter with Assault in the First Degree for seriously injuring Turner while committing or attempting to commit a felony, Assault in the First Degree for acting under circumstances "evincing a depraved indifference to human life, " Robbery in the First Degree, and Assault in the Second Degree for intending to cause serious injury to Turner. A jury found Carter guilty of first-degree "depraved indifference" assault and second-degree assault. He was sentenced to concurrent determinate terms of 25 years to life for first-degree assault and seven years for second-degree assault.

Through counsel, Carter directly appealed, raising the following claims: 1) the trial court erred in not charging the jury with the counts of first-degree depraved indifference assault and second-degree intentional assault in the alternative; 2) the verdict was repugnant; 3) the Appellate Division should review, "as a matter of discretion in the interest of justice, " Carter's unpreserved claims that the jury charge was defective and that the verdict was repugnant; 4) the evidence was not legally sufficient to support the depraved indifference assault conviction; 5) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object that the jury charge was inconsistent and that the verdict was repugnant; and 6) the sentence was harsh and excessive.

On September 30, 2005, the Appellate Division affirmed the judgment of conviction. The court concluded that Carter had failed to preserve for review his contention that the jury instructions were inconsistent, and further declined to exercise discretionary review of the claim. The court additionally concluded that Carter failed to preserve for review his argument that the verdict was repugnant, but that in any event the claim was without merit because Carter could have intended to cause Turner serious injury while recklessly creating a grave risk that he could cause Turner's death. The court further concluded that Carter could not prevail on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim because he failed to demonstrate the absence of strategic or other legitimate explanations for defense counsel's failure to object to the charge and verdict. The court likewise held that Carter's general motion to dismiss at the close of the People's case failed to preserve his argument that the conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence and that his contention was not properly before the court because he failed to renew his motion after the close of his proof. However, the court alternatively held that his claim lacked merit because a single beating under the circumstances of the case was sufficient to establish that his conduct evinced a depraved indifference to human life. Finally, the court held that Carter's sentence was not unduly harsh or severe.

Carter filed a counseled application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals. He attached copies of the briefs submitted to the Appellate Division, and specifically referenced his claim that the counts of first-degree depraved indifference assault and second-degree intentional assault were inconsistent and the verdict was repugnant. On March 27, 2006, the Court of Appeals granted leave to appeal.

In his counseled brief to the Court of Appeal, Carter raised the following claims: 1) the evidence was legally insufficient to support the depraved indifference assault conviction; 2) his general trial order of dismissal preserved his claim that the trial court erred by failing to charge the jury with first-degree depraved indifference assault and second-degree assault in the alternative, and alternatively, the failure to preserve the argument was not fatal to raising the claim on appeal; 3) the trial court erred in not charging the jury with the counts of first-degree depraved indifference assault and second-degree intentional assault in the alternative; and 4) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the jury charge or to the repugnancy of the verdict.

The Court of Appeals affirmed in a reasoned, published opinion. The court concluded that Carter had failed to preserve his arguments by not objecting at trial, and rejected his contentions that preservation was not necessary and that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the jury instructions and alleged repugnancy of the verdict. The court further held that Carter had failed to preserve his argument that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for first-degree depraved indifference assault.

II. ISSUES RAISED

Carter's Petition before this Court incorporates by reference all claims raised in his petition for appeal to the Appellate Division, namely-1) the trial court erred in not charging the jury with the counts of first-degree depraved indifference assault and second-degree intentional assault in the alternative; 2) the verdict was repugnant; 3) the Appellate Division should review, "as a matter of discretion in the interest of justice" Carter's unpreserved claims that the jury charge was defective and that the verdict was repugnant; 4) the evidence was not legally sufficient to support the depraved indifference assault conviction; 5) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object that the jury charge was inconsistent and that the verdict was repugnant; and

6) the sentence was harsh and excessive. In addition, Carter acknowledged that he did not timely file his Petition, but argues that his Petition is not barred by the one-year statute of limitations due to his "mental illness."

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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.