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Amran v. Commissioner of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 9, 2018

ASIM AMRAN, Petitioner.
v.
COMMISSIONER OP CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge.

         In July, 2015, petitioner Asim Amran ("petitioner" or "Amran") filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Magistrate Judge to whom the matter was referred entered a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Docket No. 52) in December, 2017, recommending that this Court deny Amran's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         Petitioner filed timely objections to the R&R (Docket No. 54). After considering those objections and carefully reviewing the R&R de novo, for the following reasons the Court will overrule petitioner's objections, accept and adopt the report and recommendation of the Magistrate Judge and dismiss the petition.

         I. Background

         This habeas petition arises from Amran's conviction for murder in the first degree in Worcester Superior Court in December, 2012. The Supreme Judicial Court ("SJC") affirmed Amran's conviction in April, 2015 and Amran filed the instant habeas corups petition three months later.

         In his petition, Amran contends that (1) the trial court abused its discretion in failing to grant a mistrial after the trial court told the jury this was a homicide case (where the defense was that it was a suicide), (2) the defendant's redacted statement should not have been allowed into evidence, (3) the admission of photographs of the victim's body was prejudicial and (4) the trial court erred in failing to conduct voir dire of the jury after its exposure to extraneous evidence on two occasions.

         The Magistrate Judge entered the R&R recommending that this Court deny the petition in December, 2017. In the R&R, the Magistrate Judge determined that Claims One, Two and Three were waived because Amran failed to address them in his memorandum of law in support of the petition. Furthermore, those claims relate to issues of state law not cognizable on habeas review. The Magistrate Judge held that, although Amran had exhausted Claim Four, he had failed to show he was entitled to habeas relief on that ground. Amran timely filed his objections, contesting the SJC's findings of fact and the R&R's treatment of those findings.

         II. Analysis

         A. Legal Standard

novo

Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). 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 (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 (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 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 ...

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