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Chappelle v. Griffin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

June 15, 2017

TYRONE CHAPPELLE, Petitioner,
v.
THOMAS GRIFFIN, Respondent.

          TYRONE CHAPPELLE, HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN Attorneys for Respondent

          MARGARET A. CIEPRISZ ALYSON J. GILL Assistant Attorneys General

          DECISION AND ORDER

          GARY L. SHARPE Senior United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner Tyrone Chappelle filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Dkt. No. 1, Petition ("Pet.").[1] He challenges a 2012 judgment of conviction in Ulster County Court of two counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. Pet. at 1-2. As a result of the conviction, petitioner is currently serving an aggregate prison term of fifteen years with three years post-release supervision. Id.

         Petitioner raises three grounds for habeas relief: (1) his due process rights were violated, and his right to appeal was abridged when a portion of jury selection was not recorded; (2) the trial court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence the drugs purchased from him; and (3) trial counsel was ineffective because counsel did not "object to the introduction of the crack cocaine as evidence, " or "to the off-the-record jury selection that took place." Pet. at 9-16. Respondent opposed the petition. Dkt. No. 9, Respondent's Memorandum of Law ("R. Mem."); Dkt. No. 10, Answer; Dkt. No. 11-1 to Dkt. No. 11-2, State Court Records (SR); Dkt. No. 11-3 through 11-5, Transcripts (T). Petitioner filed a reply. Dkt. No. 16, Reply.

         For the reasons that follow, the petition is denied and dismissed.

         II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         In November 2011, the police in the city of Kingston, New York, conducted a targeted operation called "Operation Clean Sweep" aimed at street-level cocaine and heroin dealers. The police department used undercover officers and confidential informants to carry out this operation. Dkt. No. 11-3 at ¶ 338-39; Dkt. No. 11-4 at ¶ 404-05.

         On November 16, 2011, police officer Shirley Jiminian was working undercover with a confidential informant (CI). Dkt. No. 11-4 at ¶ 405-06. During the morning hours, Officer Jiminian and the CI met with a known drug dealer to purchase crack cocaine. Id. at T 406-07. After arriving at the designated location, the dealer entered the rear passenger seat of the undercover car and sold cocaine to the CI with pre-recorded police funds. Id. at T 406- 07, 411; Dkt. No. 11-3 at ¶ 342-44. Once the sale was finished, Officer Jiminian was about to drive away from the area when petitioner, who was not known to either the officer or the CI, approached the vehicle, introduced himself and asked for a ride. Dkt. No. 11-3 at ¶ 344-45; Dkt. No. 11-4 at ¶ 412, 498. The CI said she could not give him a ride, but asked for petitioner's number in case the drugs she had just purchased were "garbage." Dkt. No. 11-4 at ¶ 412, 501-03. Petitioner responded that he had good quality crack to sell. Id. at T 502. The CI promised to call him to arrange a meeting for the purpose of buying more crack cocaine. Id.

         Later that day, the CI made a recorded "controlled" call to petitioner, during which they agreed to meet five minutes later for the purpose of buying "fifty cent, " or $50 worth of crack cocaine. Dkt. No. 11-4 at ¶ 416-19; 504, 510. When Officer Jiminian and the CI pulled into the designated meeting place, petitioner got into the back seat of the car. The CI gave petitioner $50 and petitioner gave her a loose chunk of crack cocaine. Id. at T 417-19, 510-12, 516. After petitioner left, the CI handed Officer Jiminian the chunk of crack cocaine, which was later placed into an evidence bag. Id. at T 436, 516-17.

         Shortly thereafter, the CI called petitioner a second time to arrange another sale. Dkt. No. 11-4 at ¶ 438-39; 517-18. Five minutes later, Officer Jiminian and the CI drove to the designated spot. However, while they were driving, petitioner called the CI and directed them to a different location. Id. at T440, 522-23. Once they arrived at the second location, petitioner got into the back seat of the undercover car, and sold the CI a quantity of crack cocaine. Id. at T 489-90, 523-25. As before, when petitioner left the car, the CI handed Officer Jiminian the crack cocaine which was later sealed into a second evidence bag. Id. at T 451.

         Petitioner was subsequently indicted in March 2012, by an Ulster County Grand Jury, of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree (two counts) and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (two counts). Dkt. No. 11-1 at ¶ 8-9. After a jury trial, petitioner was found guilty of all counts. He was sentenced as a prior violent felony offender to an aggregate term of fifteen years in prison, followed by three years of post-release supervision. Id. at SR 35-36.

         Petitioner appealed his conviction, and, on March 12, 2015, the Appellate Division affirmed. People v. Chappelle, 126 A.D.3d 1127 (3d Dep't 2015). On June 10, 2015, petitioner's application for leave to appeal was denied. Chappelle, 25 N.Y.3d 1161 (2015). This action followed.

         III. RELEVANT STANDARDS

         A. Standard of Review

         Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), a federal court may grant habeas corpus relief with respect to a claim adjudicated on the merits in state court only if, based upon the record before the state court, the state court's decision: (1) 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) was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding. 28 U.S.C. §§2254(d)(1), (2); Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 180-183 (2011); Premo v. Moore, 562 U.S. 115, 120-21 (2011); Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007). This standard is "highly deferential" and "demands that ...


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