United States District Court, N.D. New York
PETITIONER: KEITH RHAMES, Pro Se.
RESPONDENT: HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN.
MATTHEW B. KELLER, ESQ. Assistant Attorney General
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. Peebles U.S. Magistrate Judge.
a proceeding commenced by pro se petitioner Keith
Rhames, a New York State prison inmate as a result of a 1990
conviction for murder and weapon possession, seeking habeas
relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his petition,
Rhames challenges a decision issued by the New York State
Parole Board denying him parole. For the reasons set forth
below, I recommend that the petition be denied and dismissed
in all respects.
a jury trial conducted in 1990 in New York State Supreme
Court, Kings County, petitioner was found guilty of
second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in
the second- and third-degrees under New York State law. Dkt.
No. 15-1 at 83. As was described in a report generated by the
New York State Parole Board ("Parole Board"), the
underlying facts of petitioner's crimes are as follows:
On 3/12/89, at approximately 9:45 pm, the Subject and two
unapprehended others, followed the victim into 162 Troy Ave.
Bklyn, NY, and then proceeded to discharge two rounds into
the victim's abdomen. One eyewitness observed the Subject
follow the deceased into the building, heard two shots and
then saw the Subject fleeeing [sic] the building. The second
witness observed the Subject shooting his victim. Both
witnesses identified the Subject in lineup.
Id. As a result of his conviction, petitioner was
sentenced on October 17, 1990, to an aggregate prison term of
twenty-five years to life. Id. at 52, 75.
December 1, 2015, petitioner appeared before the Parole Board
for a second time. Dkt. No. 15-1 at 109-20. Although during
that parole hearing petitioner admitted his guilt to the
crimes of conviction, he disputed one of the Parole Board
Commissioner's summary of the underlying facts.
Id. at 111. That disagreement is reflected in the
following colloquy between Commissioner J. Smith and
petitioner at the parole hearing:
Q. The instant offense dates back to March of 1989. You and
two others followed the victim into a residence or an
apartment in Brooklyn and discharged two rounds into his
A. No, that's not what happened.
Q. What happened? Give me your version.
A. We didn't follow him. We went in the building. I never
got to - we went to the elevator and as we got - as I got on
the elevator, the deceased person pulled out a gun and so I
reacted once I seen it and I shot him because I felt, you
know, my life was, you know, in jeopardy. It was a housing
project, a pretty rough housing project in Brooklyn, the
Albany Houses. And after that, we ran away after the
Id. at 111-12.
the parole hearing, petitioner also acknowledged his two
prior felony convictions, and that he previously had his
probation revoked. Dkt. No. 15-1 at 113. The Parole Board
discussed with petitioner his two prison disciplinary
violations since his last parole hearing, and petitioner was
provided an opportunity to explain the circumstances of those
violations and, more generally, why he believed he should be
released from prison. Id. at 114-15, 118-19. The
Parole Board also acknowledged during the hearing that (1)
petitioner's Correctional Offender Management Profiling
for Alternative Sanctions ("COMPAS") Risk
Assessment showed that petitioner had a low risk of violence,
arrest, and absconding; (2) petitioner had secured housing for
his potential release; and (3) petitioner had developed leads
for securing employment following release. Id. at
the hearing, the Parole Board issued a decision denying
petitioner parole. Dkt. No. 15-1 at 120. Because petitioner
challenges the basis upon which the Parole Board rendered
that decision, the entire decision is recited below:
Denied 24 months. Next appearance, 12/17.
Parole is denied. After a review of the record and interview,
the panel has determined that if released at this time there
is a reasonable probability that you would not live at
liberty without again violating the law.
This decision is based on the following factors:
The instant offense of Murder 2nd, Criminal Possession of a
Weapon 2nd, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon 3rd, wherein
you did cause the ...