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Anderson v. Smith

United States District Court, N.D. New York

August 2, 2017

CLAUDE ANDERSON, Petitioner,
v.
BRANDON SMITH, Greene Correctional Facility, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

          JAMES K. SINGLETON, JR. Senior United States District Judge

         Claude Anderson, a New York state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Anderson is in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and incarcerated at Greene Correctional Facility. Respondent has answered the Petition, and Anderson has not replied.

         I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

         On October 4, 2010, Anderson was charged with two counts of second-degree assault, aggravated criminal contempt, first-degree criminal contempt, and two counts of second-degree menacing. On April 5, 2011, Anderson was also charged with first-degree criminal contempt for disobeying the order of protection by having contact with the victim while in custody at the Schenectady County Jail. On direct appeal of his conviction, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court recounted the following facts underlying the charges against Anderson:

In August 2010, [Anderson] visited his paramour, Kimmarie Stokes, in an apartment in the City of Schenectady, Schenectady County where Stokes resided with her roommates, Melvin Moore and Marion Little. Little stepped outside the apartment, and shortly thereafter an altercation occurred, resulting in both Moore and Stokes being struck in the head with a baseball bat. Little saw [Anderson] run out of the residence, followed by Stokes, who was bleeding from the head. Stokes told Little that Moore had also been injured. Upon entering the apartment, Little found Moore unconscious and called 911. [Anderson] was no longer at the scene when police arrived, but he later identified himself to law enforcement officers and was arrested.
[Anderson] was indicted for various offenses, including contempt charges arising from an order of protection already in effect that required him to refrain from illegal contact with Stokes. A new order of protection was issued that prohibited [Anderson] from all direct or indirect contact with Stokes. Thereafter, [Anderson] contacted Stokes by telephone from jail, resulting in a second indictment and a new contempt charge.

Anderson, 981 N.Y.S.2d 200, 203 (N.Y.App.Div. Feb. 27, 2014).

         Anderson was incarcerated throughout the period between his arrest and the trial, which commenced on January 23, 2012. The initial delay was due to conflicts in Anderson's legal representations, which was discovered after the People declared trial-readiness in October 2010, and frustrated attempts to assign substitute counsel. The efforts to substitute counsel were still underway in April 2011 when the second indictment was filed. Substitute counsel was appointed within a few days, Anderson was arraigned on the second indictment, and the People again declared readiness. Less than two months later, Stokes died from causes unrelated to Anderson's actions. Anderson moved to dismiss his indictments on New York Criminal Procedure Law (“CPL”) § 30.30[1] grounds, alleging that he had been in jail for 17 months and that his case was prejudiced by Stokes' death. The trial court orally denied the motion.

         On January 23, 2012, Anderson proceeded to a jury trial. Moore and Little testified as eyewitnesses of the incident. The court also admitted, over defense objection, statements Stokes made to law enforcement resulting from a 911 call placed after the incident. Anderson's call to Stokes from the jail was also placed into evidence, as was an in-car video recording of Anderson telling the arresting offices that Stokes and Moore tried to rob him, which caused him to “[take the bat] from [Moore] and whoop his ass” and hit Stokes when she attempted to run away with his money.

         Upon conclusion of trial, Anderson was convicted of second-degree assault (two counts), aggravated criminal contempt, first-degree criminal contempt (two counts), and second-degree menacing. He was subsequently sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment with 3 years of post-release supervision for his second-degree assault against Stokes and a consecutive term of 4 years' imprisonment and 3 years of post-release for his second-degree assault of Moore. Anderson also received a concurrent imprisonment term of 21/3 to 7 years for the aggravated criminal contempt conviction and 11/3 to 4 years for the first-degree criminal contempt conviction. He additionally received time served for the menacing charge.

         Through counsel, Anderson appealed his conviction, arguing that: 1) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of Anderson's prior assault conviction and temporary order of protection; 2) the court erred in refusing to admit letters written by the deceased victim Stokes; 3) the trial judge acted improperly and denied Anderson a fair trial by interjecting himself in witness questioning; 4) the court erred in denying Anderson's application for a justification charge as to Stokes; 5) the recording of Anderson's jail call to Stokes was not properly authenticated and thus improperly admitted; 6) Stokes' statements to law enforcement after the incident were improperly admitted; and 7) Anderson was denied his right to a speedy trial. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the judgment against Anderson in a reasoned opinion issued on February 27, 2014. Anderson, 981 N.Y.S.2d at 207. The New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal on April 22, 2014. People v. Anderson, 9 N.E.3d 912, 912 (N.Y. 2014).

         While his leave application was pending, Anderson moved in the county court to vacate his conviction pursuant to CPL § 440.10. In that pro se filing, Anderson asserted that: 1) trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to investigate and present evidence that Anderson was acting in self-defense or intoxicated and did not argue involuntariness of post-arrest statements; and 2) newly discovered evidence in the form of medical records of an MRI showing extensive damage to Anderson's shoulder supported his claim that he was assaulted and acted in self defense. The superior court denied the motion, holding that, since the issues Anderson raised as part of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim were part of the trial record, his failure to raise the ineffective assistance claim on direct appeal mandated denial under CPL § 440.10(2)(c). The court likewise rejected Anderson's medical evidence claim after concluding that it was not newly discovered evidence. The court reasoned that “[t]he only record of the injury occurring on the date of the crimes charged is the self-reporting of the defendant to the doctor three years later.” The court additionally found that, “even if this evidence were introduced to the jury, it would not have created a probability that a more favorable verdict would have been rendered.” Anderson moved the Appellate Division for leave to appeal the § 440.10 denial, which was denied without comment on August 3, 2015.

         Anderson then timely filed a pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus to ...


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