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Crawford v. Sticht

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 27, 2018

THOMAS STICHT, Superintendent, Wyoming Correctional Facility, Respondent.


          Vincent L. Briccetti United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), dated November 9, 2017 (Doc. #42), on Donavan Crawford's pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         After a bench trial, petitioner was convicted in Dutchess County Court of second degree criminal possession of a weapon pursuant to New York Penal Law § 265.03(3). The court sentenced petitioner as a second felony offender to a determinate term of imprisonment of nine and one-half years, followed by five years post-release supervision. The Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed the conviction. People v. Crawford, 96 A.D.3d. 964 (2d Dep't 2012). The Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal. People v. Crawford, 20 N.Y.3d 931 (Table) (2012). Petitioner also filed a number of post-trial and post-conviction motions, all of which were denied.

         Petitioner now contends his conviction and sentence were unlawful because (i) the prosecution failed to meet its burden of disproving petitioner's temporary and lawful possession defense; (ii) the prosecution offered no evidence to rebut petitioner's defense of temporary, innocent possession; (iii) trial counsel was ineffective; (iv) the cases offered by the prosecution do not support the verdict; and (v) petitioner was not read his Miranda rights at any time before or after his arrest.[1]

         Judge Davison recommended denying the petition.

         The Court agrees with that recommendation. Accordingly, for the following reasons, the R&R is adopted as the opinion of the Court, and the petition is DENIED.


         I. Standard of Review

         A district court reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Parties may raise objections to the report and recommendation, but the objections must be “specific[, ] written, ” and submitted within fourteen days after being served with a copy of the recommended disposition, Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), or within seventeen days if the parties are served by mail. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(d). .

         When a party submits a timely objection to a report and recommendation, the district court reviews the parts of the report and recommendation to which the party objected under a de novo standard of review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The district court may adopt those portions of the recommended ruling to which no timely objections have been made, provided no clear error is apparent from the face of the record. See Wilds v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 262 F.Supp.2d 163, 169 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). The clearly erroneous standard also applies when a party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates his original arguments. See Ortiz v. Barkley, 558 F.Supp.2d 444, 451 (S.D.N.Y. 2008). Because petitioner is proceeding pro se, the Court “will ‘read [his] supporting papers liberally, and . . . interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'” Id. (quoting Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994)).

         Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), when a state court denies a federal claim on the merits, a habeas petitioner is entitled to relief on that claim only if he can show the state court either (i) made a decision contrary to, or unreasonably applied clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court, or (ii) unreasonably determined the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), (2). When a state court denies a federal claim on a procedural ground that is “firmly established and regularly followed” in that state, a federal court may not even review the claim unless the petitioner shows either cause and prejudice for the failure to comply with state procedural rules, or that he is actually innocent. Clark v. Perez, 510 F.3d 382, 391-93 (2d Cir. 2008).

         II. Objections

         Petitioner filed timely objections to the R&R. (Doc. #43). Petitioner objects to the R&R's conclusion that he received effective assistance of counsel. Specifically, petitioner asserts trial counsel (i) failed to request a psychiatric hearing; (ii) refused petitioner's demand for a jury trial; and (iii) failed to object to hearsay testimony. These objections largely restate petitioner's original arguments. Nevertheless, in consideration of petitioner's pro se status, the Court has carefully reviewed the R&R and the underlying record de novo as to any specific objection the petitioner has made. Having done so, the Court finds no error, clear or otherwise, in Judge Davison's thorough and well-reasoned R&R.

         For petitioner to succeed on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, he must show (i) “counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, ” Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688 (1984), and (ii) “a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Id. at 694. A ...

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