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Jenkins v. Bergeron

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 19, 2014

SHAUN JENKINS, Petitioner,
v.
KAREN BERGERON, Respondent

Page 473

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 474

For Shaun Jenkins, Petitioner: Stewart T. Graham, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Graham & Graham, Hampden, MA.

For Karen Bergeron, Superintendent Old Colony Correctional Center, Respondent: Thomas E. Bocian, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General Martha Coakley, Boston, MA.

Page 475

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge.

This habeas petition arises out of the conviction of petitioner Shaun Jenkins (" Jenkins" or " petitioner" ) in 2005 for first-degree murder in Massachusetts Superior Court.

I. Background

A. State court proceedings

In April, 2003, Jenkins was indicted for the murder of his cousin, Stephen Jenkins (" Stephen" ). He was tried and convicted of first-degree murder in April, 2005 and sentenced to life in state prison. The Superior Court denied his motion for a new trial. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (" SJC" ) affirmed the conviction and the order denying the motion for a new trial in February, 2011 upon finding, inter alia, that the claims asserted in the instant petition lacked merit. Commonwealth v. Jenkins, 458 Mass. 791, 941 N.E.2d 56 (2011).

B. Federal court proceedings

In September, 2012, Jenkins filed the instant petition for habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He challenges his state court conviction on the grounds that 1) he did not waive his Sixth Amendment right to testify, 2) his trial counsel was ineffective and 3) the Commonwealth failed to disclose exculpatory evidence in violation of due process.

For the following reasons, the petition for habeas corpus will be denied.

II. Legal Analysis

A. Habeas standard

A federal court sitting in habeas corpus is not obliged to re-examine state-court determinations of state-law issues but rather " 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, 112 S.Ct. 475, 116 L.Ed.2d 385 (1991). Factual findings made by state courts on direct review are therefore entitled to a presumption of correctness and interpretations of state law are binding. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Bradshaw v. Richey, 546 U.S. 74, 76, 126 S.Ct. 602, 163 L.Ed.2d 407 (2005).

When the basis for a petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus was adjudicated on the merits in state court, the petition will be granted only if the state court adjudication:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal

Page 476

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 ...

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