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Eric D. Bulla v. Paula Dow

August 5, 2011

ERIC D. BULLA, PETITIONER,
v.
PAULA DOW, RESPONDENT.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Petitioner Eric D. Bulla ("Bulla"), a prisoner currently confined at East Jersey State Prison, has submitted a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The sole respondent is Paula Dow.

For the reasons stated herein, the Petition must be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The relevant facts are set forth in the opinion of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.*fn1

On February 7, 2002, Tahida Nelson and Emmabell Aquino attended a party at the College of St. Elizabeth, at which they were students. After the party, they met several friends. As the group was preparing to leave the college grounds, one of their number, Darris Davis, became involved in an argument with defendant, Eric Bulla. Ms. Aquino and Ms. Nelson were able to separate the antagonists, after which Ms. Nelson and Ms. Aquino drove off in one car while the balance of their party left in another. When they stopped at a service station to put air in a tire of one of the cars, two other vehicles pulled into the gas station. Defendant exited from one, pulled a revolver, and pointed it at two of the party, Darris Davis and Bashere Moyd. When Ms. Aquino exited her car, in at [sic] attempt to defuse what she thought was a continuation of the earlier argument, defendant pointed the gun at her. At this point, defendant commandeered Davis' car and left the gas station. Ms. Nelson and three others followed in the other car. While pursuing defendant, Ms. Nelson called 911 to report the situation.

Then ensued a high speed chase which ultimately involved a Chatham patrol officer, Patrolman Gahart. Gahart activated his overhead lights in an attempt to signal defendant to stop, but without effect. Ultimately, the car being driven by defendant crashed and began burning. Defendant exited the car, was chased by Patrolman Gahart on foot and was apprehended by him. A search of the area traversed by defendant revealed a seven-shot Harrington and Richardson twenty-two caliber revolver, which was photographed in situ, and apparently, thereafter, in all dimensions. (Opinion of Appellate Division at 4-5 (December 19, 2005).)

B. Procedural History

After trial by jury, Bulla was convicted of first-degree robbery, first-degree carjacking, third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, second-degree possession of a weapon, second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, three counts of fourth-degree aggravated assault, and second-degree eluding.

After the verdict was entered, Petitioner appealed that sentence to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division (docket number A-1224-04T4). The conviction was affirmed on December 19, 2005, but the matter was remanded for resentencing on two counts. The sentence was modified on remand. Certification was denied by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.*fn2

Bulla then filed a Petition for Post Conviction Relief (PCR) in the Superior Court of New Jersey on July 27, 2006. On September 14, 2007, the PCR court denied all but one of Bulla's claims and vacated Bulla's conviction for fourth-degree aggravated assault. The PCR decision was affirmed by the Appellate Division on July 8, 2009 (docket number A-5199-07T4). Certification was denied by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.*fn3

II. 28 U.S.C. § 2254

As amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254 now provides, in pertinent part:

(a) The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or 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 ...


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