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Harris v. Sheahan

United States District Court, W.D. New York

February 15, 2017

KADEEM HARRIS, 10-B-1512, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL SHEAHAN, Respondent.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Pro se petitioner Kadeem Harris (“Petitioner”) seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 alleging that his judgment of conviction of Robbery in the First Degree, N.Y. Penal L. § 160.15(2), entered in Erie County Court (Pietruszka, J.), was unconstitutionally obtained.

         II. Factual Background and Procedural History

         Petitioner was charged by a Superior Court Information in Erie County Court with Robbery in the First Degree, see N.Y. Penal L. § 160.15(2).[1] The single charge served as a plea package that encompassed eight felony charges incurred in three separate incidents between the months of April and July, 2009, including Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Felony Assault, Reckless Endangerment, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, and Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle. On October 8, 2009, Petitioner entered a plea of guilty to Robbery in the First Degree. Plea Tr. 10/8/2009 at 2-12.

         The record further reflects that the bargained-for plea negotiated by Petitioner's counsel at the time was pursuant to People v. Farrar, 52 N.Y.2d 302 (1981), with an agreed-upon determinate term of imprisonment of nine and one-half years followed by five years of post-release supervision. Sentencing Tr. 5/17/2010 at 3-4. Petitioner retained new counsel for his sentencing proceedings.

         Petitioner appealed the judgment of conviction to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, on the grounds of: ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing; invalid waiver of appeal; and harsh and excessive sentence. Pet'r App. Br. (Resp't Ex. B). On April 27, 2012 the Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the judgment of conviction, and leave to appeal to the New York State Court of Appeals was denied on June 22, 2012. People v. Harris, 94 A.D.3d 1484 (4th Dept.); lv. denied, 19 N.Y.3d 961 (2012).

         The instant petition (“Pet.”) followed, raising two grounds for relief: ineffective assistance of counsel and invalid waiver of appellate rights. Pet. at 6-8. For the following reasons, Petitioner's request for habeas relief is denied.

         III. Discussion

         Standard of Review

         The instant petition is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). AEDPA “revised the conditions under which federal courts may grant habeas relief to a person in state custody.” Kruelski v. Conn. Superior Ct. for Jud. Dist. of Danbury, 316 F.3d 103, 106 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254). Under AEDPA, a federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 only if the state court's adjudication of the petitioner's claim on the merits ruling is “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), or involved an “unreasonable determination of the facts” in light of the evidence presented, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2). Habeas petitioners have “the burden to show by clear and convincing evidence that the state court's decision was defective in some way.” Smith v. Sullivan, 1 F.Supp.2d 206, 211 (W.D.N.Y. 1998).

         Habeas Corpus Petition

         1. Ineffective Assistance of Sentencing Counsel

          In support of his habeas petition, Petitioner argues that his attorney during the sentencing proceeding was ineffective for failing to request youthful offender status. Pet'r Mem. (Dkt. # 23) at 7-8.[2] The Appellate Division found that, “to the extent that defendant's contention that he was denied effective assistance of counsel survives his guilty plea and valid waiver of the ...


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