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Anderson v. Racette

United States District Court, W.D. New York

May 1, 2017

GERALD ANDERSON, Petitioner,
v.
STEVEN R. RACETTE, Respondent.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Gerald Anderson (“petitioner”), proceeding pro se, petitions this Court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner is incarcerated pursuant to a judgment entered July 19, 2007, in Erie County Court (Buscaglia, J.), upon his plea of guilty to one count of manslaughter in the first degree (N.Y. Penal Law § 125.20(1)). On October 18, 2007, petitioner was sentenced to a determinate prison term of twenty-two years with five years post-release supervision.

         II. Factual Background and Procedural History

         Plaintiff's plea of guilty arose out of an incident in which he and three co-defendants, who had recently contracted with a couple in Buffalo for purposes of waterproofing their basement, broke into the couple's house and beat the husband, James Gilson, to death inside the home. Petitioner and his co-defendants each pled guilty to one count of manslaughter in the first degree.

         Petitioner filed a direct counseled appeal to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, in which he argued that (1) his plea was not knowing, voluntary, or intelligent; (2) his waiver of the right to appeal was invalid; and (3) his sentence was harsh and excessive. In a supplemental pro se brief, petitioner argued that his statements were obtained in violation of the Constitution.

         On December 23, 2011, the Fourth Department unanimously affirmed petitioner's judgment of conviction. See People v. Anderson, 90 A.D.3d 1475 (4th Dep't 2011), lv. denied, 18 N.Y.3d 991. The Fourth Department found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying youthful offender status. Id. at 1476. The court further held that petitioner's challenge to the factual plea colloquy was unpreserved, noting that the “case [did] not fall within the rare exception to the preservation requirement.” Id. (citing People v. Lopez, 71 N.Y.2d 662, 665 (1988)).

         The instant petition alleges three grounds, arguing that (1) the trial court improperly denied petitioner youthful offender status; (2) his plea was not knowing and voluntary; and (3) trial counsel was ineffective.[1] For the reasons discussed below, the petition is dismissed.

         III. Standard of Review

         The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) applies to this petition. AEDPA “revised the conditions under which federal courts may grant habeas relief to a person in state custody.” Kruelski v. Connecticut Super. Ct. for Judicial 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 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).

         IV. Grounds Asserted in the Petition

         A. Youthful Offender Status

         Petitioner first contends that the trial court improperly denied youthful offender status, and that the Fourth Department should have exercised its “interest of justice jurisdiction” and granted petitioner such status. This claim, grounded entirely in state law, is not cognizable on habeas review and is therefore dismissed. See Jones v. Perez, No. 2015 WL 268917, *2 (W.D.N.Y. Jan. 21, 2015) (where “sentence is well-within the statutorily permitted range, ” a petitioner's “claim regarding the state court's refusal to afford him youthful offender status does not present a constitutional issue”).

         B. ...


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