The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOSEPH GREENAWAY JR., District Judge
Yves Duvais filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
pursuant, to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a), challenging a conviction in the
Superior Court of New Jersey. Respondents filed an Answer, with
relevant portions of the state court record, arguing that the
Petition should be dismissed on the merits. For the reasons
expressed below, this Court dismisses the Petition with prejudice and declines to issue a certificate of appealability.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2253(c), 2254(a), (b), (c).
Petitioner challenges a judgment of conviction entered on
September 25, 2000, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law
Division, Essex County, after a jury convicted him of first
degree aggravated manslaughter, unlawful possession of a weapon,
and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The Law
Division merged the weapons offenses and sentenced Petitioner to
a 13-year term of imprisonment, with an 85% parole ineligibility
period on the manslaughter charge, and a concurrent four-year
term on the weapons charges. Petitioner appealed, and in an
opinion filed January 2, 2003, the Appellate Division of the
Superior Court of New Jersey affirmed. State v. Duvais, No.
A-3324-00T4 slip op. (App.Div. Jan. 2, 2003). On February 28,
2003, the Supreme Court of New Jersey denied certification.
State v. Duvais, 175 N.J. 550 (2003) (table).
On February 9, 2004, Petitioner executed his § 2254 Petition
and handed it to prison officials for mailing to the Clerk of the
Court. The Clerk received it on February 13, 2004. 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 two grounds:
Ground One: THE TESTIMONY OF INVESTIGATOR RICHARD
GREGORY WHICH INTRODUCED THE ADMISSION OF A
NON-TESTIFYING CODEFENDANT ALBERT'S STATEMENT INTO THE TRIAL AND HIS TESTIMONY
ABOUT PETITIONER HAD A CRIMINAL RECORD, VIOLATED
PETITIONER'S RIGHT TO CONFRONT WITNESS AGAINST HIM AS
WELL AS HIS RIGHT TO HAVE A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL TRIAL,
IN VIOLATION OF THE SIXTH AMENDMENT OF CONFRONTATION
AND THE FOURTEEN [sic] AMENDMENT UNDER THE FEDERAL
AND STATE CONSTITUTIONS. U.S. CONST. AMEND. VI,
Ground Two: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING THE
OUT-OF-COURT PHOTOGRAPHIC IDENTIFICATION BY EDSON
ELYSEE DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF ANY EVIDENCE OF ITS
RELIABILITY OR THE FAIRNESS OF THE IDENTIFICATION
PROCEDURE. THE COURT FURTHER FAILED TO PROVIDE THE
JURY WITH AN IDENTIFICATION CHARGE WITH RESPECT [TO]
THE OUT-OF-COURT IDENTIFICATION BY ELYSEE AND JEAN
VOLTAIRE, THEREBY DEPRIVING PETITIONER OF HIS RIGHT
TO A FAIR TRIAL UNDER THE UNITED STATES AND THE NEW
JERSEY CONSTITUTIONS. U.S. CONST., AMEND. XIV.
(Pet. ¶¶ 12.A., 12.B.)
The State filed an Answer seeking dismissal of the Petition,
arguing that, to the extent the grounds assert federal claims,
they do not satisfy the standard for habeas relief.
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.
See 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
"In conducting habeas review, a federal court is limited to
deciding whether a conviction violated the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States." Estelle v. McGuire,
502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); accord Barry v. Bergen
County Probation Dept., 128 F.3d 152, 159 (3d Cir. 1997).
"Federal courts hold no supervisory authority over state judicial
proceedings and may intervene only to correct wrongs of
constitutional dimension." Smith v. Phillips, 455 U.S. 209, 221
(1982). "If a state prisoner alleges no deprivation of a federal
right, § 2254 is simply inapplicable. It is unnecessary in such a
situation to inquire whether the prisoner preserved his claim
before the state courts." Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 120 n.
In reviewing a § 2254 petition, a federal court is not
permitted to address a federal constitutional claim pertinent to
the facts of the case unless the petitioner asserts the claim as
a ground for relief.*fn1 Nor may the Court recharacterize a
ground asserted under state law into a federal constitutional
claim.*fn2 "[E]rrors of state law cannot be repackaged as
federal errors simply by citing the Due Process Clause." Johnson v. Rosemeyer,
117 F.3d 104, 110 (3d Cir. 1997). Moreover, "it is well established
that a state court's misapplication of its own law does not
generally raise a constitutional claim." Smith v. Horn,
120 F.3d 400, 414 (3d Cir. 1997) (citations and internal quotation
marks omitted); see also Smith v. Zimmerman, 768 F.2d 69, 71,
73 (3d Cir. 1985).
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 ...