United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge
Griggs (“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 June 9, 2011, in New York
State Supreme Court, Erie County (Wolfgang, J.), following a
jury trial in which he was convicted of criminal possession
of a weapon in the second degree (N.Y. Penal Law §
265.03(3)). Petitioner, who was sentenced as a second felony
offender, is currently serving a prison sentence of 15 years
followed by five years post-release supervision.
his conviction, petitioner filed a direct counseled appeal to
the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth
Department, in which he argued, as relevant here, that (1)
the court erred in allowing evidence of prior bad acts; (2)
the prosecutor committed misconduct on summation; and (3)
defense counsel was ineffective for failing to object to
5, 2013, the Fourth Department unanimously affirmed
petitioner's judgment of conviction. See People v.
Dupleasis, 112 A.D.3d 1318 (4th Dep't 2013), lv.
denied, 21 N.Y.3d 1074.Specifically, the Fourth
Department found that the trial court erred in admitting
evidence of prior bad acts, but “conclude[d] that the
error [was] harmless” because “[petitioner], by
his own admission, possessed the loaded firearm, ” and
his innocent possession defense was at odds with the trial
evidence. Id. at 1063. The court summarily rejected
petitioner's prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective
assistance of counsel arguments, “conclud[ing] that
[they did not] warrant modification or reversal.”
filed a post-conviction motion to vacate his judgment of
conviction pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law
(“CPL”) § 440.10, arguing that the evidence
was legally insufficient and that the prosecutor committed
misconduct. The trial court denied that motion on August 20,
2012, and the Fourth Department denied leave to appeal.
Petitioner filed an application for a writ of error coram
nobis with the Fourth Department on December 20, 2013, which
application was denied on October 2, 2015. See People v.
Griggs, 132 A.D.3d 1327 (2015), lv. denied, 26
instant petition (doc. 1) contends that (1) the trial court
erred in allowing evidence of prior bad acts and (2) trial
counsel was ineffective for failure to object to
prosecutorial misconduct. For the reasons discussed below,
the petition is dismissed.
Standard of Review
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).
Grounds Asserted in the Petition
Prior Bad Acts
contends that the trial court erred in allowing evidence of
prior bad acts in the course of the testimony of
petitioner's girlfriend. As discussed above, the Fourth
Department held that the admission of the prior bad acts
constituted harmless error. Griggs, 108 A.D.3d at
1062. “A decision to admit evidence of a criminal
defendant's uncharged crimes or bad acts under
[People v. Molineux, 168 N.Y. 264 (1901)]
constitutes an evidentiary ruling based on state law.”
Jones v. Conway, 2011 WL 1356751, *2 (W.D.N.Y. Apr.
4, 2011) (citing Sierra v. Burge, 2007 WL 4218926,
*5 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 30, 2007)). “As such, state court
Molineux rulings are generally not cognizable on
habeas review.” Id. (citing Roldan v.
Artuz, 78 F.Supp. 2d, 260, 276 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)).
relief is available for Molineux violations
“only if the petitioner demonstrates that the alleged
evidentiary error violated a constitutional right and that
the error ‘[was] so extremely unfair that its admission
violates fundamental conceptions of justice.'”
Id. (quoting Dunnigan v. Keane, 137 F.3d
117, 125 (2d Cir. 1998)). ...