Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Palacios-Rodriguez v. Buechele

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 2, 2018

JOSE R. PALACIOS-RODRIGUEZ, Petitioner,
v.
ROBERT BUECHELE, et al., Respondents.

          OPINION

          MADELINE COX ARLEO, District Judge

         Presently before the Court is the petition for a writ of habeas corpus of Jose R. Palacios-Rodriguez ("Petitioner") brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging Petitioner's state court conviction. (ECF No. 1.) Following an order to answer, Respondents filed a response to the petition. (ECF No. 3.) For the following reasons, this Court will deny the petition and will deny Petitioner a certificate of appealability.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In its opinion affirming Petitioner's conviction, the Superior Court of New Jersey -Appellate Division provided the following factual summary of the background of this matter:

[O]n the afternoon of June 28, 2008, [Petitioner], the victim ([Petitioner's] cousin) and two others were sitting in the living room of their home drinking beers when the victim grabbed [Petitioner] and threw him down on the sofa. ... The victim pushed [Petitioner] down and told him that he was not a man. After a struggle, the victim let [Petitioner] up, but then [Petitioner] pursued the victim through the house stabbing the victim in the back and the chest.
[Petitioner] left the house and walked to work. Later that evening, the police apprehended [Petitioner] outside of his workplace. When arrested. [Petitioner] provided the police with a false name. Officers transported [Petitioner] to the Ramsey Police Headquarters, where he was placed in a holding cell and subsequently fell asleep. [Petitioner] later participated in a videotaped interview with Detectives James Brazofsky, Brian Huth and Luis Alvarez Prior to trial, [Petitioner] moved to suppress his confession, and the judge conducted a Miranda[1]hearing. Brazofsky, Huth and Alvarez testified regarding the interrogation. Brazofsky testified that he and Huth brought [Petitioner! into an interview room at the Bergen County prosecutor's office. The interview was conducted in Spanish initially by Brazofsky, then later by Alvarez Before questioning [Petitioner], Brazofsky advised him that his consent was necessary and it was his option to discuss the incident. Brazofsky noticed that [Petitioner's] eyes appeared bloodshot and his speech was slurred, but stated that he took into account that [Petitioner] had recently been asleep. Brazofsky testified that he smelled an odor of alcohol on [Petitioner's] breath.
[Petitioner] admitted to the detectives that he was illiterate, but Brazofsky testified that [Petitioner] understood their conversation, and [Petitioner] informed him that he understood Spanish, but not English. Brazofsky presented [Petitioner] with a Miranda waiver form translated into Spanish. Brazofsky read each of the warnings aloud in Spanish and questioned whether [Petitioner] understood [Petitioner] initialed each paragraph and signed a written waiver. Huth later testified that although [Petitioner] appeared to have been drinking he did understand Brazofsky's questions.
Brazofsky testified that he then began to question [Petitioner] about the incident but called m Alvarez, a native Spanish speaker, to continue the interrogation ' Alvarez testified that [Petitioner] was "calm, cooperative, attentive" and responded coherently during questioning. [Petitioner] repeatedly informed Alvarez that as a result of his drinking, he could not remember what had occurred However, [Petitioner] stated that the victim pushed him down and claimed that he' was not a man. [Petitioner] admitted to stabbing the victim two or three times with a knife Alvarez testified that [Petitioner] detailed his placement of the knife during the altercation, its color, as well as the points of impact on the victim's body [Petitioner] also stood up from his chair in order to physically demonstrate how he stabbed the victim. [Petitioner] informed the detective that after the stabbing, he left the house, threw the knife away and went to work.

         The three-and-one-half-hour interrogation was videotaped. A transcript of [Petitioner's] interview and a portion of the videotape were provided to the court during the motion hearing and to the jury during the trial. The video shows [Petitioner] waiving his Miranda rights and confessing to the stabbing.

         At the conclusion of the Miranda hearing, the judge denied [Petitioner's] motion [Petitioner] thereafter asserted intoxication as a defense to the attempted murder and aggravated assault charges. Nevertheless, the jury found [Petitioner] guilty of attempted murder, aggravated assault and the two related charges. State v. Palacios-Rodriguez, No. A-0892-10T3, 2013 WL 4710521, at * 1-2 (N.J. App. Div. Sept. 3, 2013).[2]

         Petitioner was sentenced by the state trial court to a fourteen-year term of imprisonment, 85% of which was to be served without parole eligibility. Id. at * 1. Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence, and the Appellate Division, on September 3, 2013, affirmed. Id. The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification in July 2014. State v. Palacios-Rodriguez, 218 N.J. 275 (2014).

         Petitioner thereafter filed his habeas petition in this Court on January 21, 2015. (ECF No. 1). The petition raises two grounds for relief:

GROUND ONE: [PETITIONER'S] RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM SELF INCRIMINATION WAS VIOLATED BECAUSE THE INTERROGATING DETECTIVE MISLEADLNGLY QUALIFIED THE MIRANDA WARNINGS BY SAYING THAT [PETITIONER] COULD REMAIN SILENT BUT THEN "WON'T HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLAIN " U s' CONST AMENDS. V, XIV.
GROUND TWO: [PETITIONER'S] WAIVER OF HIS RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM SELF INCRIMINATION WAS NOT KNOWING BECAUSE HE WAS DRUNK, EXHAUSTED, AND ILLITERATE; THE WARNINGS WERE GIVEN IN SPANISH BY A NON-FLUENT DETECTIVE; THE WARNINGS WERE MISLEADING; [PETITIONER] RESPONDED NEGATIVELY WHEN ASKED IF HE UNDERSTOOD HIS RIGHT TO SILENCE- AND [PETITIONER] THEREAFTER TRIED TO CUT OFF THE INTERROGATION. U.S. CONST. AMENDS. V, XIV.

(ECF No. 1 at 5-6.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a), the district court "shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus [o]n 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." A habeas petitioner has the burden of establishing his entitlement to relief for each claim presented in his petition based upon the record that was before the state court. See Eley v. Erickson, 712 F.3d 837, 846 (3d Cir. 2013); see also Parker v. Matthews, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 132 S.Ct. 2148, 2151 (2012). Under the statute, as amended by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, ("AEDPA"), Pub. L 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (Apr. 24, 1996), district courts are required to give great deference to the determinations of the state trial and appellate courts. See Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 772-73 (2010).

         Where a claim has been adjudicated on the merits by the state courts, the district court shall not grant an application for a writ of habeas corpus unless the state court adjudication:

(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 the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2).

         Federal law is clearly established for these purposes where it is clearly expressed in "only the holdings, as opposed to the dicta" of the opinions of the United States Supreme Court. See Woods v. Donald, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015). "When reviewing state criminal convictions on collateral review, federal judges are required to afford state courts due respect by overturning their decisions only when there could be no reasonable dispute that they were wrong." Id. Where a petitioner challenges an allegedly erroneous factual determination of the state courts, "a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct [and the] applicant shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

         The AEDPA standard under § 2254(d) is a "difficult" one to meet; it is a "highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, which demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011). Review under § 2254(d)(1) "is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits." Id. In applying AEDPA's standards, the relevant state court decision that is appropriate for federal habeas corpus review is the last reasoned state court decision. See Bond v. Beard, 539 F.3d 256, 289-90 (3d Cir. 2008).

         B. Analysis

         Both Grounds presented in Petitioner's habeas petition are rooted in Petitioner's assertion that his right against self-incrimination was violated during the course of his three-and-one-half hour interrogation on June 28, 2008. In Ground One, Petitioner asserts that the Miranda warning given to him by Detective Brazofsky before Petitioner provided his incriminating statement to police included "a substantially misleading qualification of the right-to-silence warning." (Pet'r's Br. 27, ECF No. 1-2.) In Ground Two, Petitioner asserts that his subsequent waiver of his right to remain silent was not knowing because "[e]ven if the Miranda warnings were perfect, [Petitioner] - a drunk exhausted, and illiterate immigrant - was in no condition to understand them." (Id. at 36.) Petitioner asserts that his inculpatory statements to police should have been suppressed in light of the foregoing. (Id. at 42.)

         Petitioner raised all of these claims on direct appeal. State v. Palacios-Rodriguez, 2013 WL 4710521, at *2-3 (N.J. App. Div. Sept. 3, 2013). In ultimately affirming the state trial court's judgment and conviction of Petitioner, the Appellate Division analyzed these claims as follows:

[Petitioner] contends that his confession should have been suppressed on several theories, namely that he was illiterate and non-English speaking and therefore did not understand his Miranda rights; he was so intoxicated that he was incapable of knowingly and voluntarily waiving his Miranda rights during the police interview; and he was provided misleading and ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.