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Artis v. Rock

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 21, 2014

CLARENCE L. ARTIS, JR., Petitioner,
DAVID ROCK, Superintendent, Upstate Correctional Facility, [1] Respondent.


JAMES K. SINGLETON, Jr., Senior District Judge.

Clarence L. Artis, Jr., a New York state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Artis is currently in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and is incarcerated at Upstate Correctional Facility. Respondent has answered, and Artis has replied.


On October 22, 2009, a jury found Artis guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree for having his seven-year-old daughter perform oral sex on him. Artis moved through counsel to set aside the verdict pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law ("CPL") § 330.30 on the ground that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.

On October 30, 2009, the trial court informed the parties that one of the jurors ("Juror No. 8") called the court and relayed a conversation that had occurred during deliberations. The jurors had discussed whether Artis was incarcerated or had been indicted when, in March 2009, he wrote a letter to his daughter telling her that he wanted to take her to Disneyland. According to the Juror No. 8, another juror ("Juror No. 6") stated that her husband was on the grand jury that indicted Artis and that Artis was in jail at that time.

The prosecutor responded that his office had spoken with Juror No. 6 and that her husband had not been on the grand jury that indicted Artis. Artis's counsel stated that he intended to supplement his motion to set aside the verdict to include a juror misconduct claim and subsequently submitted a supplemental affidavit in support of Artis's CPL § 330.30 motion.

On February 1, 2010, the court denied the motion on the record. The court denied Artis's first claim-that counsel was ineffective-because counsel "provided more than adequate counsel throughout the[] proceedings." The court also rejected Artis's juror misconduct claim. It noted that Juror No. 8 refused to provide a sworn affidavit repeating the information that she had previously provided not under oath. The court further noted that the prosecution contacted the other 11 jurors "[a]nd the thrust of that is seven of them absolutely denied ever hearing that. Some indicated they heard something along that line, but they couldn't recall exactly what it was. And all 11 of them said under any set of circumstances it had absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with their verdict of guilty in this case."

By papers dated February 4, 2010, Artis, proceeding through counsel, renewed his CPL § 330.30 motion and attached a sworn affidavit from Juror No. 8 stating that "a different verdict may have been reached if [the jury] were permitted to hear the testimony of the caseworkers who interviewed the child, ... and see the videotaped interview." Juror No. 8 again averred that Juror No. 6 "told us during deliberations [Artis] knew he was going to trial when he wrote the letter in March 2009 to his daughter, ['] because her husband was on the Grand Jury who voted to indict Mr. Artis." She further stated that, as a result of Juror No. 6's statement, "I believe Mr. Artis was unfairly treated and deserves a new trial."

The prosecutor opposed the motion, attaching affidavits from the other eleven jurors, including Juror No. 6. Juror No. 6 averred that she had stated during deliberations that her husband had sat on a grand jury and that it was a month-long process, but denied that she had stated that her husband sat on the grand jury that indicted Artis. Seven of the jurors stated that they either did not recall or did not hear that Juror No. 6's husband sat on the grand jury that indicted Artis. One of the jurors believed that Juror No. 6 had stated that her husband sat on the grand jury that "decided if Artis's case went to trial, " but noted that "another male juror [s]topped her and told her it was not relevant." She further stated that the "comment did not have any impact on [her] guilty verdict."

On February 8, 2010, the court denied the renewed CPL § 330.30 motion. It concluded that Juror No. 8's statement that the jury's verdict might have been different if they had been permitted to hear the testimony of the caseworkers who interviewed the victim and see the videotaped interview was "sheer speculation on her part" and thus insufficient to establish ineffective assistance of counsel. The court likewise rejected Artis's juror misconduct claim because "[t]he jury was polled" and Juror No. 8 made "no allegation in her affidavit that the only reason she voted guilty was because of what some juror purportedly told her even though the rest of the jurors denied that occurred in the fashion she alleges." The court concluded that it was "an attempt to engage in impeachment of a jury's verdict... [a]nd there are no grounds for misconduct here that this Court sees would even require the scheduling of a hearing, a fact finding hearing."

The trial court then adjudicated Artis a second felony offender and sentenced him to a determinate prison term of twenty years plus five years of post-release supervision. On February 16, 2010, the court resentenced Artis to a ten-year term of post-release supervision, stating that the ten-year period was the minimum permitted by law.

Through counsel, Artis appealed his conviction to the Appellate Division. He filed a counseled brief and appendix claiming that the court should have held a hearing on his juror misconduct claim. Artis also filed a pro se supplemental brief in which he claimed that: 1) the verdict was against the weight of the evidence and legally insufficient to support the conviction;

2) counsel was ineffective; 3) the trial judge was biased; 4) the prosecutor committed a Brady violation; and 5) he was denied his right to a speedy trial.

The Appellate Division affirmed his conviction in its entirety in a reasoned opinion. Counsel for Artis sought leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals solely on the juror misconduct claim. The Court of Appeals summarily denied Artis's application on March 30, 2012. Artis timely filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus to this Court on May 14, 2012.


In his pro se Petition before this Court, Artis raises the following grounds for relief: 1) juror misconduct; 2) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; 3) insufficient evidence to support his conviction; 4) prosecutorial misconduct; 5) judicial bias; and 6) speedy trial violation.


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 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).

To the extent that the petition raises issues of the proper application of state law, they are beyond the purview of this Court in a federal habeas proceeding. See Swarthout v. Cooke, 131 S.Ct. 859, 863 (2011) (per curiam) (holding that it is of no federal concern whether state law was correctly applied). It is a fundamental precept of dual federalism that the states possess primary authority for defining and enforcing the criminal law. See, e.g., Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991) (a federal habeas court cannot reexamine a state court's interpretation and application of state law); Walton v. Arizona, 497 U.S. 639, 653 (1990) (presuming that the state court knew and correctly applied state law), overruled on other grounds by Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002).

In applying these standards on habeas review, this Court reviews the "last reasoned decision" by the state court. Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 804 (1991); Jones v. Stinson, 229 F.3d 112, 118 (2d Cir. 2000). Under the AEDPA, the state court's findings of fact are presumed to be correct unless the petitioner rebuts this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003).


A. Exhaustion

Respondent contends that Artis has failed to exhaust all but his juror misconduct claim. This Court may not consider claims that have not been fairly presented to the state courts. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); see Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (2004) (citing cases). To be deemed exhausted, a claim must have been presented to the highest state court that may consider the issue presented. See O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). In New York, to invoke one complete round of the State's established appellate process, a criminal defendant must first appeal his or her conviction to the Appellate Division and then seek further review by applying to the Court of Appeals for leave to appeal. Galdamez v. Keane, 394 F.3d 68, 74 (2d Cir. 2005).

On direct appeal, Artis's counsel raised only the juror misconduct claim. Artis also submitted a pro se supplemental brief which raised the other claims to the Appellate Division. After his appeal was denied, Artis's counsel then petitioned for review to the Court of Appeals, again raising only the juror misconduct claim. Artis nonetheless contends in his Traverse that he fully exhausted his claims because his appellate counsel additionally submitted Artis's pro se supplemental brief in his petition for review of the appellate decision.

As Artis contends, his appellate counsel's letter indicates that the pro se supplemental brief was enclosed in the leave application. However, appellate counsel did not mention any of the issues asserted in Artis's supplemental pro se brief, and Artis did not file a pro se leave application. It therefore does not appear that Artis "fairly presented" those claims to the New York Court of Appeals. See Jordan v. Lefevre, 206 F.3d 196, 198-99 (2d Cir. 2000) (finding that appellate counsel's "arguing one claim in his letter while attaching an appellate brief without explicitly alerting the ...

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