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Reed v. Graham

United States District Court, N.D. New York

July 11, 2017

EDWARD REED, Petitioner,
HAROLD GRAHAM, Superintendent, Auburn Correctional Facility, Respondent.



          Frederick J. Scullin, Jr. Senior United States District Judge.

         In an Order dated July 7, 2017, this Court accepted Magistrate Judge Hummel's May 24, 2017 Report-Recommendation and Order in its entirety and denied Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. See Dkt No. 22. On the same date, the Court entered judgment dismissing the action for the reasons stated in its Order. See Dkt. No. 23.

         In its July 7, 2017 Order, the Court noted that Petitioner, despite the Court granting his letter request for an extension of time in which to file objections, had not done so. See Dkt. No. 22 at 2. After it had entered its Order and Judgment, the Court discovered that Petitioner had, in fact, filed objections to Magistrate Judge Hummel's recommendations. See Dkt. No. 24. In light of the filing those objections, the Court will vacate its July 7, 2017 Order an Judgment, see Dkt. Nos. 22-23, and conduct the appropriate review of Magistrate Judge Hummel's recommendations in light of Petitioner's objections.

         A district court reviews a magistrate judge's recommendations de novo as to those parts of the report-recommendation to which a party specifically objects. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). On the other hand, a court reviews those parts of the report-recommendation to which the parties do not object or to which they offer "'only frivolous, conclusive or general objections'" for clear error. Arbor Hill Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Ass'n v. Cnty. of Albany, 281 F.Supp.2d 436, 439 (N.D.N.Y. 2003) (quotation and other citation omitted).

         Petitioner states that he objects to the report-recommendation in its entirety. See Dkt. No. 24 at 2. He then recites his objections to Magistrate Judge Hummel's factual and legal conclusions regarding several issues. See Id. at 2-6. Finally, he appears to argue that the state courts never provided him with "'meaningful' assistance of counsel to correct ineffective assistance of trial counsel, where as here . . . the record is replete with examples of failure to object that can have no basis in a counselor's strategy." See Id. at 6. On the basis of these objections, Petitioner asks the Court to "(1) hold this petition in abeyance, (2) Assign counsel to [him] to address issues of ineffective assistance of counsel that [he] has demonstrated in his petition, . . . (3) address issues of prosecutorial misconduct . . . and (4) That an investigation be started for criminal practices by the Onondaga District Attorney's office in the instant case, also as a matter of record in Rivas v. Fischer, 687 F.3d 514 (C.A.2 (N.Y.) 2012) where this same District Attorney did falsify evidence through his medical examiner." See Id. at 6-7.

         Many of Petitioner's objections are conclusory and others merely reiterate the arguments that he made in support of his petition, all of which Magistrate Judge Hummel thoroughly addressed. Moreover, some of the relief that Petitioner seeks is beyond the scope of the relief that this Court could award even if Petitioner were to prevail on his petition. Finally, many of Petitioner's objections are based on his misconceptions about the proper legal standards that a federal habeas court must apply in reviewing a state-court judgment under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA).

         As Magistrate Judge Hummel explained, the AEDP

A provides that, when a state court has adjudicated the merits of a petitioner's claim, a federal court may grant an application for a writ of habeas corpus only if "the adjudication of the claim (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." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e). See also, e.g., Noble v. Kelly, 246 F.3d 93, 98 (2d Cir. 2001); Brown v. Alexander, 543 F.3d 94, 100 (2d Cir. 2008). . . . This is a "difficult to meet, " and "highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, which demands that state court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011) (citations omitted).

See Id. at 9-10 (internal footnote omitted).

         Magistrate Judge Hummel further explained that,

[u]nder section 2254(d)(1), a state-court decision is contrary to clearly established Supreme Court precedent if its "conclusion on a question of law is 'opposite' to that of the Supreme Court or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court's decision 'on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.'" Id. (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000)). A state court decision involves an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent if it correctly identifies the governing legal principle, but unreasonably applies or unreasonably refuses to extend that principle to the facts of a particular case. See Williams, 529 U.S. at 413; Ramdass v. Angelone, 530 U.S. 156, 166 (2000).

See Id. at 10.

         Finally, as Magistrate Judge Hummel noted, in conducting its review, the federal habeas court must presume that "a state court's factual findings are . . . correct, unless that presumption is rebutted by clear and ...

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