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Richardson v. Morton

September 20, 1999

RE: ARTHUR RICHARDSON V. WILLIAM E. MORTON, ET AL


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nicholas H. Politan U.S.D.J.

CHAMBERS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. NICHOLAS H. POLITAN FEDERAL BUILDING & U.S.COURTHOUSE JUDGE 50 WALNUT ST., ROOM 5076 P.O. BOX 999 NEWARK, N.J. 07101-0999

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

LETTER ORDER

ORIGINAL ON FILE WITH CLERK OF THE COURT

Dear Litigants:

This matter comes before the Court on the petition of Arthur Richardson for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Court has decided the matter without oral argument pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. After careful consideration of the papers submitted in support of and in opposition to the petition, the Court concludes that the petition for habeas relief should be DENIED. This case is CLOSED.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Richardson's petition arises from his conviction in a New Jersey state court. After his direct appeal in the state courts, petitioner commenced post-conviction relief. Post-conviction proceedings concluded on May 23, 1997, when the New Jersey State Supreme Court denied his petition for certification. Shortly thereafter, in compliance with the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Petitioner filed his habeas corpus petition.

DISCUSSION

Petitioner contends that: (1) by denying Edith Batts permission to testify, the trial court violated his constitutional rights; (2) the court permitted Felicia Scott, a lay witness, to give expert testimony which violated Petitioner's right to a fair trial; (3) the trial judge, through his questioning of witnesses was partial to the state, therefore depriving Petitioner of a fair trial; (4) the reporter failed to transcribe read-back of testimony, which is cause for a reversal of Petitioner's conviction; (5) the trial judge coerced the jury into convicting Petitioner and (6) Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel at his initial trial and on appeal.

I. LAY WITNESS TESTIMONY

Petitioner alleges that Felicia Scott, the decedent's neighbor, gave expert testimony concerning lighting conditions at the time of the murder. Because Scott testified as a lay witness, petitioner contends that the court erred by permitting her to discuss, "[t]he lighting conditions in the victim's bedroom at night [which] were certainly within the purview of expert testimony." (Defendant's Brief in Support of Petition, p. 14). Petitioner apparently argues that either the jury gave Scott's testimony more weight because it falsely believed that Scott acted as an expert witness or that the court erred in admitting her testimony.

Rule 701 of the Federal Rules of Evidence discusses the testimony that a lay ...


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