United States District Court, S.D. New York
Davalloo Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
Corpus Section Office of the Attorney General of the State of
M. Kutzner Senior Assistant State's Attorney Civil
Litigation Bureau Office of the Chief State's Attorney
Other Counsel by ECF
GABRIEL W. GORENSTEIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, petitioner Sheila
Davalloo challenges her 2012 conviction in Connecticut state
court. See Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for
Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, dated
Nov. 24, 2016 (Docket # 1). The Connecticut conviction was
for a 2002 murder that took place in Stamford, Connecticut.
State v. Davalloo, 101 A.3d 355, 360-64 (Conn. App.
Ct. 2014), aff'd, 128 A.3d 492 (Conn. 2016).
Davalloo was sentenced to 50 years in prison on that
conviction, to run consecutive to a sentence she had
previously received for a conviction in New York State court.
Id. at 364. The New York conviction is not
challenged in the petition.
custodian, respondent Sabrina Kaplan, has now moved to
transfer this case to the District of Connecticut.
See Letter from Michelle Maerov, dated June 1, 2017
(Docket # 11). George Jepsen, the Attorney General of
Connecticut and the other respondent in this action, supports
the transfer. See Letter from David M. Kutzner,
dated June 20, 2017 (Docket # 14). Davalloo opposes transfer.
See Letter from Sheila Davalloo, dated June 12, 2017
(Docket # 13).
U.S.C. § 1404(a) provides in relevant part: “[f]or
the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to
any other district or division where it might have been
brought.” In applying this statute, courts conduct a
two-step inquiry. At the first step, a court must determine
whether the case could have been brought in the other
district. If the first step is satisfied, a court then weighs
a number of factors to determine if transfer is appropriate.
See, e.g., Winter v. Am. Inst. of Med.
Scis. & Educ., 2017 WL 1063459, at *3-4 (S.D.N.Y.
Mar. 17, 2017); Pence v. Gee Grp., Inc., 2017 WL
629470, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 16, 2017); Bacuku v.
Shanahan, 2016 WL 1162330, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 1,
the first step is satisfied. The terms of the general venue
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2), permit a civil
proceeding to be brought in a judicial district “in
which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to the claim occurred.” Given that the crime,
trial and conviction took place in Connecticut, the action
could have been brought in Connecticut.Additionally, the
Supreme Court has specifically held that a habeas corpus
petition may be brought in the state in which the conviction
took place. See Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit
Court, 410 U.S. 484, 493-94 (1973); accord
Bagdasaryan v. Swarthout, 2012 WL 6203113, at *4 (E.D.
Cal. Dec. 12, 2012) (“[T]he general rule with regard to
habeas applications is that both the United States District
Court in the district where petitioner was convicted and the
District Court where petitioner is incarcerated have
jurisdiction over the claims.”); Verissimo v.
I.N.S., 204 F.Supp.2d 818, 820 (D.N.J. 2002) (“[A]
habeas corpus petition may be transferred to the district
court of the state in which the petitioner was sentenced and
convicted, even if the petitioner was transferred to prison
in a different state.”); see also United States ex
rel. Meadows v. New York, 426 F.2d 1176, 1183 & n.8
(2d Cir. 1970) (holding that “the sentencing district
may properly assume jurisdiction over” a habeas
petition). Therefore, we next consider the factors governing
whether transfer is appropriate.
Second Circuit has identified seven factors that a court
should consider at step two of the § 1404(a) transfer
(1) the plaintiff's choice of forum, (2) the convenience
of witnesses, (3) the location of relevant documents and
relative ease of access to sources of proof, (4) the
convenience of parties, (5) the locus of operative facts, (6)
the availability of process to compel the attendance of
unwilling witnesses, and (7) the relative means of the
N.Y. Marine & Gen. Ins. Co. v. Lafarge N. Am.,
Inc., 599 F.3d 102, 112 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation
omitted); accord Bacuku, 2016 WL 1162330, at *1.
Courts in this district have also considered “(8) the
forum's familiarity with the governing law, and (9) trial
efficiency and the interest of justice.” Fellus v.
Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc., 783 F.Supp.2d 612, 618
(S.D.N.Y. 2011); accord Tlapanco v. Elges, 207
F.Supp.3d 324, 328 (S.D.N.Y. 2016); AIG Fin. Prods. Corp.
v. Pub. Util. Dist. No. 1, 675 F.Supp.2d 354, 368
(S.D.N.Y. 2009). “There is no rigid formula for
balancing these factors and no single one of them is
determinative. Instead, weighing the balance is essentially
an equitable task left to the Court's discretion.”
Citigroup Inc. v. City Holding Co., 97
F.Supp.2d 549, 561 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted); accord Tlapanco, 207
F.Supp.3d at 328 (citation omitted).
the analysis squarely points to transfer. While
Davalloo's choice of forum is entitled to some weight,
the convenience of witnesses plainly favors Connecticut,
which is the state where the crime, its investigation, and
its prosecution took place. The same is true for the location
of any relevant documents. The locus of operative facts as
well as the forum's familiarity with the governing law
also point to Connecticut for venue. The remaining factors do
not favor either forum. In other words, the only factor that
disfavors transfer is the fact that Davalloo would prefer to
have her case heard in New York. We find this insufficient to
deny transfer. We note that courts have commonly transferred
a habeas corpus petition to a federal court located in the
state where the conviction took place. See,
e.g., Wilkins v. Erickson, 484 F.2d 969,
973 (8th Cir. 1973) (allowing transfer of habeas corpus case
from the District of South Dakota to the District of Montana
because “Montana, the state of conviction and
sentencing, [was] the most convenient forum because of the
availability of witnesses and records”);
Meadows, 426 F.2d at 1178, 1183 & n.9 (upholding
transfer of Georgia prisoner's habeas petition to a
federal court in New York under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)
where the petition challenged a New York state conviction);
Palubicki v. Minnesota, 2016 WL 7350494, at *3-5 (D.
Vt. Dec. 19, 2016) (Vermont prisoner's habeas petition
could be transferred to Minnesota where the petition sought
review of a Minnesota conviction). III. CONCLUSION
For the above reasons the Court concludes that respondent has
made a meritorious motion to transfer the case to the United
States District Court ...