United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Susan D. Wigenton, United States District Judge.
before the Court is the amended petition for a writ of habeas
corpus of Ernest Dubose (“Petitioner”) brought
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his state court
convictions. (ECF No. 3). Following an order to answer,
Respondents filed an answer to the petition (ECF No. 10).
Petitioner did not file a reply. For the following reasons,
the Court will deny Petitioner's habeas petition, and
deny Petitioner a certificate of appealability.
Petitioner's amended petition presents three discrete
claims, only a limited discussion of the background of this
matter is necessary for the purposes of this opinion. As
explained by the Superior Court of New Jersey - Appellate
A Morris County grand jury charged [Petitioner] in a
five-count indictment with second-degree conspiracy [in
violation of N.J. Stat. Ann. §] 2C:5-2 (count one);
second-degree official misconduct [in violation of N.J. Stat.
Ann. §] 2C:30-2(a) (count two); second-degree bribery in
official and political matters [in violation of N.J. Stat.
Ann. §] 2C:27-2(c) (count three); second-degree
attempted theft by deception [in violation of N.J. Stat. Ann.
§] 2C:20-4(a) (count four); and second-degree false
contract payment claims [in violation of N.J. Stat. Ann.
§] 2C:21-34(a) (count five). Following a thirteen-day
trial, the jury convicted [Petitioner] of all of the charges.
The trial judge sentenced [Petitioner] to six years in prison
on count one, and concurrent six-year terms on counts two,
three, four, [and] five.
(Document 9 attached to ECF No. 10 at 1-2). Petitioner's
charges and conviction arose out of a scheme in which he and
his co-conspirator Gaudner Metellus conspired to defraud the
New Jersey Department of Transportation out of several
hundreds of thousands of dollars by, among other things,
inflating repair costs for state owned bridges as part of
grant proposals submitted to the Department. (ECF No. 3 at
19; ECF No. 10 at 6). At his trial, Petitioner represented
himself with the aid of standby counsel. (Document 9 attached
to ECF No. 10 at 3 n. 1).
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a), the 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.” The 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, 28 U.S.C. § 2244
(“AEDPA”), 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,
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;
(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). The Supreme Court has
explained that “clearly established Federal law for the
purposes of § 2254(d)(1) includes 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) (internal
quotations omitted). “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
t]he applicant shall have the burden of rebutting the
presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).