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MCCALLA v. GREINER

October 3, 2005.

KARL McCALLA, a/k/a FRANCIS NEWTON, Petitioner,
v.
CHARLES GREINER, et al., Respondents.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DICKINSON DEBEVOISE, Senior District Judge

OPINION

Karl McCalla, a prisoner who is confined at Green Haven Correctional Facility in New York State, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) challenging a New Jersey sentence.*fn1 Respondents filed an Answer, arguing that Petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief. Petitioner filed a Traverse. For the reasons expressed below, the Court dismisses the Petition on the merits and declines to issue a certificate of appealability. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2253(c), 2254.

  I. BACKGROUND

  Petitioner challenges a judgment of conviction entered in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, on October 24, 1997, after a jury found him guilty of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in the first degree and possession of cocaine. The Court sentenced Petitioner to a term of 50 years, consecutive to his New York sentence. Petitioner appealed and on February 18, 2000, the Appellate Division affirmed the conviction and sentence. On June 7, 2000, the Supreme Court of New Jersey denied certification.

  On August 14, 2001, Petitioner executed the § 2254 Petition which is now before this Court. The Clerk received the Petition on August 21, 2001. The Court notified Petitioner of the consequences of filing such a Petition under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") and gave him an opportunity to withdraw the Petition and file one all-inclusive Petition, pursuant to Mason v. Meyers, 208 F.3d 414 (3d Cir. 2000). The Petition presents the following grounds: POINT 1: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS THE EVIDENCE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED, BECAUSE HIS BEING ORDERED FROM THE CAR CONSTITUTED AN ILLEGAL SEIZURE VIOLATING THE UNITED STATES AND THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONS.

 
POINT II: DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED.
POINT III: DEFENDANT'S SENTENCE MUST BE MODIFIED [BECAUSE] THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY IMPOSING AN EXTENDED TERM.
(Pet. Legal Argument.)

  The State filed an Answer opposing the Petition, with copies of relevant portions of the state court record. Respondents concede that the Petition is timely and the claims are fully exhausted. Respondents argue that Petitioner's claims are not cognizable and, to the extent that they are cognizable, they do not warrant habeas relief.

  Petitioner filed a Traverse in which he contends that he is entitled to a writ because the adjudication of his claims in the New Jersey courts resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable interpretation of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

  II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

  A habeas corpus petition must meet "heightened pleading requirements." McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 2(c)). The petition must specify all the grounds for relief available to the petitioner, state the facts supporting each ground, and state the relief requested. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 2(c)(1), (c)(2), (c)(3).

  Section 2254(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code gives the court jurisdiction to entertain a habeas petition challenging a state conviction or sentence only where the inmate's custody violates federal law:
[A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).

  A district court must give deference to determinations of state courts. Duncan v. Morton, 256 F.3d 189, 196 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 919 (2001); Dickerson v. Vaughn, 90 F.3d 87, 90 (3d Cir. 1996). Federal courts "must presume that the factual findings of both state trial and appellate courts are correct, a presumption that can only be overcome on the basis of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary." Stevens v. Delaware Correctional Center, 295 F.3d 361, 368 (3d Cir. 2002).

  Where a federal claim was "adjudicated on the merits" in state court proceedings, § 2254 does not permit habeas relief unless adjudication of the claim

 
(1) resulted in a decision that 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) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of ...

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