Hughes v. Sheahan

Decision Date01 May 2018
Docket Number9:15–CV–0896
Citation312 F.Supp.3d 306
Parties Patrick HUGHES, Petitioner, v. Michael SHEAHAN, Superintendent; Five Points Correctional Facility, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of New York

O'CONNELL & ARONOWITZ, OF COUNSEL: SCOTT W. ISEMAN, ESQ., 54 State Street, 9th Floor, Albany, New York 12207–2501, Attorneys for Petitioner.

HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General of the State of New York, OF COUNSEL: PRISCILLA I. STEWARD, ESQ., Ass't Attorney General, 28 Liberty Street, New York, New York 10005, Attorneys for Respondent.

MEMORANDUM–DECISION and ORDER

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION...316

II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND...316

III. LEGAL STANDARDS...317

A. AEDPA Standard of Review...317
C. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel...319

IV. DISCUSSION...320

E. Legal Sufficiency of Other Counts and Double Jeopardy...342
1. Regarding Counts Two, Three, and Four...342
2. Double Jeopardy–Related Claims...344

V. CONCLUSION...346

I. INTRODUCTION

On December 1, 2015, petitioner Patrick Hughes ("Hughes" or "petitioner") filed an amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondent Michael Sheahan ("respondent") answered the amended petition on February 12, 2016, and petitioner filed a reply.

On June 9, 2016, this action was stayed in order to permit Hughes an opportunity to fully exhaust certain claims in state court. The stay was lifted on March 9, 2017, after petitioner's counsel informed the Court that petitioner had completed the exhaustion process. Thereafter, petitioner filed a supplemental memorandum of law and exhibits from his collateral state court proceedings, respondent filed a supplemental memorandum of law in response, and petitioner filed a reply memorandum of law.

Hughes raises the following grounds for habeas relief: (1) his trial counsel and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance; (2) his confession was obtained in violation of his rights under the Fifth Amendment; (3) his conviction for predatory sexual assault against a child was based on legally insufficient evidence and violated the Ex Post Facto Clause; and (4) his convictions on counts one through four of the indictment were based on legally insufficient evidence and violated principles of double jeopardy.

For the reasons that follow, the amended petition is denied and dismissed.

II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

On March 6, 2012, following a jury trial in the Albany County Supreme Court, Hughes was convicted of predatory sexual assault against a child in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 130.96, rape in the first degree in violation of Penal Law § 130.35(1), rape in the second degree in violation of Penal Law § 130.30(1), and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child in violation of Penal Law § 260.10(1).

The facts precipitating the charges against Hughes were later summarized as follows:

When the police located defendant's 16–year-old stepdaughter after she ran away from home, she told them that she had been subjected to physical and sexual abuse by the 39–year-old defendant. He then voluntarily spoke with police and, in a video-recorded interview, gave a written statement in which he admitted that he had "disciplined" the victim by making her fellate him and have sexual intercourse with him on at least four separate occasions.

People v. Hughes , 114 A.D.3d 1021, 1021, 981 N.Y.S.2d 158 (N.Y. App. Div. 3d Dep't 2014).

After his conviction but prior to sentencing, Hughes filed a motion to set aside the verdict pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law ("CPL") § 330.30. The Albany County Supreme Court denied his § 330.30 motion on May 22, 2012, and on June 5, 2012 the trial court sentenced petitioner to an aggregate prison sentence of fifty years to life. Hughes , 114 A.D.3d at 1021, 981 N.Y.S.2d 158.

Hughes took a direct appeal in which he raised numerous arguments, but the Third Department affirmed the judgment of conviction on February 20, 2014. Hughes , 114 A.D.3d at 1025, 981 N.Y.S.2d 158. In affirming his conviction, the Appellate Division rejected certain of petitioner's arguments on the merits and concluded that his "remaining arguments were not preserved for our review ... and their inclusion in his posttrial CPL 330.30 motion is insufficient to preserve them as issues for appeal[.]" Id. at 1024, 981 N.Y.S.2d 158. Petitioner sought leave to appeal further, but the New York Court of Appeals denied that application. People v. Hughes , 23 N.Y.3d 1038, 993 N.Y.S.2d 251, 17 N.E.3d 506 (2014).

On July 23, 2015, Hughes, through counsel, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, but as noted above the proceeding was stayed on June 9, 2016 to allow petitioner to exhaust his claims that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to (1) interview or call to testify at trial certain individuals identified by petitioner; (2) investigate petitioner's financial records and petitioner's medical condition; (3) call two individuals for purposes of impeaching the credibility of the victim, C.D. ("C.D." or "the victim"); (4) enter into evidence photographs of a garage and camp that would have supported his defense; (5) consult with or call an expert witness regarding false confessions and/or false memories; and that (6) his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to argue that his confession was coerced.

On July 5, 2016, Hughes filed in state court a notice of motion for writ of error coram nobis, which the Third Department denied on August 17, 2016. On November 5, 2016, the Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal. People v. Hughes , 28 N.Y.3d 1072, 69 N.E.3d 1027 (2016).

On July 7, 2016, Hughes, through counsel, also filed in state court a motion seeking to vacate his conviction pursuant to CPL § 440.10. The Albany County Supreme Court denied the motion on September 22, 2016 and, on November 28, 2016, the Third Department denied leave to appeal further. Thereafter, petitioner returned to federal court to pursue habeas relief in this action.

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. AEDPA Standard of Review

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), a federal court may grant habeas corpus relief with respect to a claim adjudicated on the merits in state court only if, based upon the record before the state court, the state court's decision (1) "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) "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(d)(1), (2) ; Cullen v. Pinholster , 563 U.S. 170, 180–81, 185, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 179 L.Ed.2d 557 (2011) ; Premo v. Moore , 562 U.S. 115, 120–21, 131 S.Ct. 733, 178 L.Ed.2d 649 (2011) ; Schriro v. Landrigan , 550 U.S. 465, 473, 127 S.Ct. 1933, 167 L.Ed.2d 836 (2007).

This standard is "highly deferential" and "demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Felkner v. Jackson , 562 U.S. 594, 598, 131 S.Ct. 1305, 179 L.Ed.2d 374 (2011) (per curiam) (quoting Renico v. Lett , 559 U.S. 766, 773, 130 S.Ct. 1855, 176 L.Ed.2d 678 (2010) (internal quotation marks omitted) ). The Supreme Court has repeatedly explained that "a federal habeas court may overturn a state court's application of federal law only if it is so erroneous that ‘there is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's decision conflicts with th[e Supreme] Court's precedents.’ " Nevada v. Jackson , 569 U.S. 505, 508–09, 133 S.Ct. 1990, 186 L.Ed.2d 62 (2013) (per curiam) (quoting Harrington v. Richter , 562 U.S. 86, 102, 131 S.Ct. 770, 178 L.Ed.2d 624 (2011) ); see Metrish v. Lancaster , 569 U.S. 351, 358, 133 S.Ct. 1781, 185 L.Ed.2d 988 (2013) (explaining that success in a habeas case premised on § 2254(d)(1) requires the petitioner to "show that the challenged state-court ruling rested on ‘an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement’ ") (quoting Richter , 562 U.S. at 103, 131 S.Ct. 770 ) ).

Additionally, the AEDPA foreclosed " ‘using federal habeas corpus review as a vehicle to second-guess the reasonable decisions of state courts.’ " Parker v. Matthews , 567 U.S. 37, 38, 132 S.Ct. 2148, 183 L.Ed.2d 32 (2012) (per curiam) (quoting Renico, 559 U.S. at 779, 130 S.Ct. 1855 ). A state court's findings are not unreasonable under § 2254(d)(2) simply because a federal habeas court reviewing the claim in the first instance would have reached a different conclusion. Wood v. Allen , 558 U.S. 290, 301, 130 S.Ct. 841, 175 L.Ed.2d 738 (2010). "The question under AEDPA is not whether a federal court believes the state court's determination was incorrect but whether that determination was unreasonable–a substantially higher threshold." Schriro , 550 U.S. at 473, 127 S.Ct. 1933.

Federal habeas courts must presume that the state courts' factual findings are correct unless a petitioner rebuts that presumption with "clear and convincing evidence." Schriro , 550 U.S. at 473–74, 127 S.Ct. 1933 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1...

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