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Charles Connors v. Bruce Hauck

February 14, 2011

CHARLES CONNORS, PETITIONER,
v.
BRUCE HAUCK, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pisano, District Judge

OPINION

Petitioner Charles Connors, a convicted state prisoner, has submitted a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his New Jersey state court conviction and sentence. For the reasons stated herein, the Petition will be denied for lack of substantive merit.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Statement of Facts

The facts of this case were recounted below and this Court, affording the state court's factual determinations the appropriate deference, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), will simply reproduce the factual recitation as set forth in the unpublished opinion of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, decided on October 9, 2002, with respect to petitioner's direct appeal from his judgment of conviction and sentence:

The facts can be briefly stated. Defendant's armed robbery conviction arose out of a shoplifting incident at Rite-Aid pharmacy in Trenton. Defendant walked into the store and immediately attracted the attention of two security officers because he was wearing women's pants and an orange-reddish wig. With a pocketbook, dangling from his forearm, defendant, a pre-operative transsexual, walked up and down different aisles, eventually stopping in the cigar section. Defendant picked up a $15 box of cigars and concealed it under his left armpit inside his black leather jacket. Defendant walked over to the cashier and was talking with the cashier when he was confronted by the security officers.

Defendant denied having any store merchandise and according to the security officers, became belligerent, refusing to accompany the officers. Defendant stuck his hand in his pocketbook and said "I'll cut you, I killed once, I killed one M.F., and I'll kill another one," and started backing towards the door with his hands in his pocketbook. One of the security officers also testified that defendant opened his handbag and the officer noticed a knife handle protruding from the pocketbook. Defendant took the cigars from his coat, returned them to th spot on the shelf, and went toward the door with his hands in his pocketbook.

The officers insisted that defendant follow them to the back room. Defendant refused and left the store. Outside, according to one of the officers, defendant took out a knife from his pocketbook, held its blade upward and threatened to kill the officer.

Defendant testified at trial. He explained that he was merely pricing the cigars for his grandfather, and when he bent over some cigars, a security officer approached him aggressively. Defendant denied that he tried to conceal the cigars in his jacket and that he ever threatened anyone. The knife he carried was a "paring" knife that he used to cut his nails and cuticles. (Ra14,*fn1 October 9, 2002 Appellate Division Opinion at pp. 3-4).

B. Procedural History

On July 22, 1999, a Mercer County Grand Jury indicted petitioner, Charles Connors ("Connors"), under Indictment No. 99-7-717. The Indictment charged Connors with first-degree armed robbery, third-degree possession of a weapon (knife) for an unlawful purpose, fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon (knife), and fourth-degree certain persons not to have a weapon (knife). (Ra1).

II. STATEMENT OF CLAIMS

Connors asserts the following claims in his petition for habeas relief:

A. The trial court erred in the manner in which it responded to a question from the jury during deliberations, which adversely impacted upon the jury's verdict finding petitioner guilty of first degree robbery. (Petition, ¶ 12.A., Ground one).

B. The petitioner was denied his right to a fair trial as a result of the prosecutor's reference to petitioner's "impecuniousity." (Pet., ¶ 12.B., Ground two).

C. The petitioner was denied his right to a fair trial as a result of the prosecutor's cross-examination of petitioner eliciting his prior criminal record after it had been fully disclosed during direct examination. (Pet., ¶ 12.C., Ground three).

D. The jury verdict was against the weight of the evidence. (Pet., ¶ 12.D., Ground four).

The State essentially contends that the petition should be denied for lack of substantive merit or because it fails to raise claims of federal constitutional dimension. The State also argues that the petition is time-barred under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2244(d). This Court finds that the petition ...


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