Grassia v. Scully, Docket No. 131

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore WINTER, MINER and ALTIMARI; ALTIMARI
Citation892 F.2d 16
PartiesPeter GRASSIA, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Charles SCULLY, Superintendent of Green Haven Correctional Facility, Respondent-Appellee.
Decision Date08 December 1989
Docket Number89-2157,Docket No. 131

Page 16

892 F.2d 16
Peter GRASSIA, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Charles SCULLY, Superintendent of Green Haven Correctional
Facility, Respondent-Appellee.
Docket No. 131, 89-2157.
United States Court of Appeals,
Second Circuit.
Argued Sept. 13, 1989.
Decided Dec. 8, 1989.

Page 17

Philip L. Weinstein, New York City (Murray E. Singer, The Legal Aid Soc., of counsel), for petitioner-appellant.

Gary Fidel, Asst. Dist. Atty., New York City (John J. Santucci, Dist. Atty., Queens County, Kew Gardens, of counsel), for respondent-appellee.

Before WINTER, MINER and ALTIMARI, Circuit Judges.

ALTIMARI, Circuit Judge:

Petitioner-appellant Peter Grassia appeals from a judgment entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Kenneth Conboy, Judge), denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Grassia asserts that his attorney induced his plea of guilty to second degree murder through fraud and misrepresentation, thereby depriving him of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel. The matter was referred to Magistrate Kathleen A. Roberts, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) (1982), who conducted an evidentiary hearing and recommended to the district court that the habeas petition be granted. After reviewing the record of the magistrate's evidentiary hearing and conducting a supplemental evidentiary hearing, the district court denied Grassia's petition. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (1982). The district court found that Grassia had failed to establish that, but for the alleged fraud and misrepresentation, Grassia would not have pled guilty.

On appeal, Grassia contends that the district court erred by not showing greater deference to the magistrate's recommendation. Specifically, Grassia argues that the magistrate's factual conclusions, based on the live testimony of five witnesses, merit greater deference than those reached by the district court, which reviewed the record of the magistrate's hearing and heard live testimony from only two witnesses. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

BACKGROUND

A Queens, New York grand jury indicted Grassia for second degree murder and arson, charging that he acted as a look-out while a co-defendant sprayed a subway token booth with gasoline. The gasoline ignited, resulting in the deaths of two clerks inside the token booth. On November 5, 1979, upon advice of counsel, Grassia pled guilty to one count of second degree murder before Justice Bernard Dubin of the New York Supreme Court. Before accepting Grassia's guilty plea, Justice Dubin conducted an extensive allocution which included Grassia's acknowledgement that his plea would result in a sentence of from fifteen years to life imprisonment and that no other promises had been made to him. Grassia was subsequently sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

In May 1986, having previously exhausted all state remedies, Grassia filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the district court, claiming violation of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel. Grassia asserted that his attorney, Anthony Sparacio, had misrepresented to him that he would be released from prison on a work release program after serving only 5 years of his 15 years to life sentence, misinformed him that co-defendant William Prout could not testify on Grassia's behalf, and misled him to believe

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that his family no longer supported his decision to stand trial. In addition, Grassia claimed that Sparacio dissuaded him from withdrawing his guilty plea at the sentencing proceeding by misinforming him that it was not possible for the court to vacate the guilty plea and that the early work release agreement would be cancelled if it became publicly known.

District Judge Edward Weinfeld referred the matter to Magistrate Roberts. The magistrate conducted a two-day evidentiary hearing at which she heard testimony from Grassia, Sparacio, Grassia's mother Florence Grassia, Father Walter Mitchell, and the attorney of co-defendant Prout. The magistrate recommended that Grassia's petition for a writ of habeas corpus be granted. An assessment of the witnesses' credibility was necessary to resolve the "central [evidentiary] conflict" concerning "Sparacio's statements to petitioner regarding the availability of work release." The magistrate considered Grassia to be a "highly credible witness" who was "thoughtful and forthright in answering questions" during the evidentiary hearing. In contrast, she assessed Sparacio's testimony at the hearing as "uncorroborated, inconsistent, and illogical." Based on the testimony, the magistrate concluded that Grassia had been deprived of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel and recommended that the district court grant his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

After reviewing the record of the magistrate's evidentiary hearing, District Judge Kenneth Conboy, to whom the matter had been assigned,...

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266 practice notes
  • Dacosta v. City of N.Y., 15–CV–5174
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • November 8, 2017
    ...days to object to a Report and Recommendation. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72. Plaintiff did not file an objection. But see Grassia v. Scully , 892 F.2d 16, 19 (2d Cir. 1989) ("[T]he district court is not bound by the recommendation of the magistrate."). The court has discretion to conduct de novo revi......
  • U.S. v. Rosa, Nos. 954
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • December 3, 1993
    ...further evidence need not hear live evidence from each of the witnesses who appeared before the magistrate judge. See Grassia v. Scully, 892 F.2d 16, 19 (2d Cir.1989); see also Peretz v. United States, --- U.S. ----, ----, 111 S.Ct. 2661, 2670, 115 L.Ed.2d 808 (1991) (court may opt to " 're......
  • Harewood v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Educ., 18 Civ. 5487 (KPF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 22, 2021
    ...the findings or recommendations made by a magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.Page 13 R. Civ. P. 72(b); Grassia v. Scully, 892 F.2d 16, 19 (2d Cir. 1989). More specifically, a court may accept those portions of a report to which no specific, written objection is made, as long a......
  • Roldan v. Racette, No. 1684
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 22, 1993
    ...to object timely to a magistrate's report operates as a waiver of any further judicial review of the magistrate's decision." Small, 892 F.2d at 16 (collecting cases). In Small, we clarified the application of this rule to pro se litigants, holding that their failure to object to a magistrat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
266 cases
  • Dacosta v. City of N.Y., 15–CV–5174
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • November 8, 2017
    ...days to object to a Report and Recommendation. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72. Plaintiff did not file an objection. But see Grassia v. Scully , 892 F.2d 16, 19 (2d Cir. 1989) ("[T]he district court is not bound by the recommendation of the magistrate."). The court has discretion to conduct de novo revi......
  • U.S. v. Rosa, Nos. 954
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • December 3, 1993
    ...further evidence need not hear live evidence from each of the witnesses who appeared before the magistrate judge. See Grassia v. Scully, 892 F.2d 16, 19 (2d Cir.1989); see also Peretz v. United States, --- U.S. ----, ----, 111 S.Ct. 2661, 2670, 115 L.Ed.2d 808 (1991) (court may opt to " 're......
  • Harewood v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Educ., 18 Civ. 5487 (KPF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 22, 2021
    ...the findings or recommendations made by a magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.Page 13 R. Civ. P. 72(b); Grassia v. Scully, 892 F.2d 16, 19 (2d Cir. 1989). More specifically, a court may accept those portions of a report to which no specific, written objection is made, as long a......
  • Roldan v. Racette, No. 1684
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 22, 1993
    ...to object timely to a magistrate's report operates as a waiver of any further judicial review of the magistrate's decision." Small, 892 F.2d at 16 (collecting cases). In Small, we clarified the application of this rule to pro se litigants, holding that their failure to object to a magistrat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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