United States District Court, E.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
SANDRA J. FEUERSTEIN, District Judge.
Before the Court is Johnny Mayo's ("petitioner") petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the foregoing reasons, petitioner's application is DENIED and the petition is dismissed.
On August 13, 2000, petitioner and his cohorts went to the home of Michael Dobrie for the purpose of robbing money and drugs. Upon entering the front door, a shot was fired and Dobrie was killed. On February 3, 2007 and while he was serving time at the Fort Dix Correctional Facility, petitioner was interrogated and allegedly "proffered" a statement. DE 1-1 p. 5.
Subsequently, petitioner was indicted by a Suffolk County Grand Jury and charged with second degree felony murder under New York Penal Law (NYPL) § 125.25(3) and first degree burglary under NYPL § 140.30(1). DE 4 ¶ 3. On July 3, 2007, petitioner was arrested for the murder of Michael Dobrie, but denied his involvement. DE 1-1 p. 5. Subsequent to his arrest, petitioner "again offered statements negating his involvement." Id.
On September 3, 2008, a Huntley hearing was held and the petitioner's motion to suppress his statements was denied on the grounds he received Miranda warnings and the statements were not coerced. Id.; DE 4 ¶ 3. In February 2009, petitioner's jury trial began and on February 24, 2009, petitioner, with the advice of counsel, interrupted the proceedings and pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree felony murder in satisfaction of the charges. DE 1-1 p. 5; DE 4 ¶ 4.
Petitioner appealed from his judgment of conviction and counsel was appointed to represent him on direct appeal. DE 4 ¶ 5. Three (3) issues were raised on appeal: (1) his waiver of appeal was unenforceable because it was neither knowing nor voluntary; (2) his conviction for attempted felony murder was a legal impossibility; and (3) given that petitioner did not admit to the crime of felony murder, his guilty plea was involuntary and unenforceable.
New York's Appellate Division, Second Department, issued its decision affirming the judgment on October 5, 2010. DE 4, Exh. 6. It held that petitioner's purported waiver of his right to appeal was ineffective. People v. Mayo, 77 A.D.3d 683, 683-84 (2d Dept. 2010) (Slip Op). The court also held that the plea of guilt for attempted felony murder, a non-existent or logically and legally impossible crime, was permissible. Id. at 684 (citation omitted). As to petitioner's third ground, the appellate court held that a factual basis for the plea was not required under the circumstances. Id. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. Id Petitioner then sought leave to appeal from New York's Court of Appeals, which application was denied on March 7, 2011. People v. Mayo, 946 N.E.2d 185 (N.Y. 2011). Accordingly, petitioner's claims are properly exhausted.
In his application for a writ of habeas corpus, petitioner alleges his waiver of appeal was invalid and his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily made.
A. Legal Standard for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody
"In reviewing a state prisoner's habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, a federal district court makes an independent determination as to whether the petitioner is in custody in violation of his rights under the Constitution, or any laws and treaties of the United States." McCool v. New York State, 29 F.Supp.2d 151, 157 (W.D.N.Y. 1998) (citing Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 730 (1991)).
As amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) provides that a "district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." A federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus to a State prisoner where the federal claim was "adjudicated on the merits" in state court if adjudication of the claim:.
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the ...