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Mitchell v. Ward

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 31, 2017

STEPHEN MITCHELL, Petitioner,
v.
“JOE” WARD, Superintendent Respondent.

          ORDER

          LaSHANN DeARCY HALL, United States District Judge.

         On June 28, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom issued a Report and Recommendation (R. & R., ECF No. 49) recommending that this Court deny the petition for a writ of habeas corpus (Pet., ECF No. 1). The parties were afforded fourteen days to file objections to the Report and Recommendation. (See R. & R. 7.) On July 6, 2016, Petitioner filed a request for an extension until August 12, 2016, which was granted by Magistrate Judge Bloom. (ECF No. 51.) Petitioner then filed an objection on August 12, 2016. (Pet'r's Obj., ECF No. 54). When a timely objection has been made to any portion of a report and recommendation on a petition challenging the fact or duration of confinement, the District Court reviews the report and recommendation de novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The Court has reviewed the record and the Report and Recommendation de novo and hereby adopts Magistrate Judge Bloom's Report and Recommendation in its entirety.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Court presumes familiarity with the underlying facts of this case, which have been outlined in Magistrate Judge Bloom's June 28, 2016 Report and Recommendation (see R. & R. 1-3), and are adopted herein.

         In addition to the facts outlined in the Report and Recommendation, Petitioner alleges that Magistrate Judge Bloom failed to consider certain “important facts” and, as a result, that “an essential portion of the report [was] based upon a false premise.” (Pet'r's Obj. ¶¶ 7, 37.) Specifically, Petitioner claims that around mid-June of 2014, he attempted to file an order to show cause motion in the Appellate Division, Second Department, to compel the Appellate Division to stay all proceedings in lower courts. (See Id . ¶ 19.) However, a clerk in the Appellate Division allegedly refused to accept his order to show cause application because he did not have an attorney who could file the application. (See Id . ¶ 22.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         As amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (the “AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2254 permits a federal court to entertain only those applications alleging that a person is in state custody “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Sections 2254(b) and (c) impose the additional requirement that the petitioner must have exhausted state remedies for his claims. Finally, for claims which were “adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings, the federal habeas court may not grant the application unless the adjudication:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

Id. § 2254(d). A state court decision is “contrary to” clearly established federal law if “the state court reached a conclusion of law that directly contradicts a holding of the Supreme Court” or, “when presented with ‘facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme Court precedent, '” the state court arrived at a different result. Evans v. Fischer, 712 F.3d 125, 132 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000)). A state court decision is an “unreasonable application” of clearly established federal law if “the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [Supreme Court] decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.” Williams, 529 U.S. at 413.

         DISCUSSION

         Petitioner's objections to Magistrate Judge Bloom's Report and Recommendation are largely premised upon his contention that Magistrate Judge Bloom misconstrued his claims by relying on false premises or not attending to the relevant facts. (See Pet'r's Obj. ¶¶ 7, 37.) Against that backdrop, Petitioner alleges that: (1) the denial of his request for his petition for temporary bail to be heard by Justice Lewis was an arbitrary and unfair application of state law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (id. ¶¶ 104, 132); (2) he was subject to ‘class of one' discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (id. ¶¶ 133-37); and (3) clerks of the Appellate Division, Second Department, violated his rights to access the courts by refusing to accept his order to cause motion for temporary injunctive relief on the ground that he could not afford counsel (id. ¶¶ 144-49).

         With respect to his due process claim, Petitioner maintains that he was unfairly denied a state procedure for selecting the judicial forum in which his § 460.50 motion was to be heard. (Id. ¶ 104.) Magistrate Judge Bloom plainly and correctly stated, however, first, that § 460.50 does not confer a right to select the judge who will preside over a § 460.50 application, and, second, that-even if it did-such a right is not protected by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. (See R. & R. 5.) See Watson v. City of New York, 92 F.3d 31, 37-38 (2d Cir. 1996) (“Ample precedent establishes that a state rule of criminal procedure . . . does not create a liberty interest that is entitled to protection under the federal Constitution.”).

         To be afforded due process protection, a state procedural right must implicate those rights that the Supreme Court has long considered fundamental. For example, the right to effective counsel, see Evitts v. Lucey, 469 U.S. 387, 403 (1985) (state appellate procedures implicated the due process right to effective counsel in criminal appeals), the right to a fair trial, see Davis v. Strack, 270 F.3d 111, 132 (2d Cir. 2001) (withholding the justification charge to the jury deprived appellant of the constitutional right to fair trial), and the length of confinement, see Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 557 (1974) (Nebraska's prison disciplinary procedure for revoking good-time credits held to be unconstitutional because the procedure directly affected the length of confinement), have all long been considered protected by the ...


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