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.

Lacen v. Russo

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 25, 2019

EMILIO LACEN, Petitioner,
v.
LOIS RUSSO, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Indira Talwani United States District Judge

         Petitioner Emilio Lacen filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [#1] pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking habeas relief from his 2011 conviction for trafficking in cocaine in an amount greater than two hundred grams, in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 94C, § 32E(b). Upon review of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation [#30], Respondent's Limited Objections [#31], and Petitioner's Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation [#38] and Objections to Respondent's Limited Objections [#39], and determining de novo those portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation that have been objected to, the court hereby ACCEPTS and ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation for the reasons set forth therein and below. The Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus [#1] is DENIED.

         I. Introduction, Background, and General Habeas Principles

         Neither party raises any objection to the Report and Recommendation's recounting of the background and facts underlying this petition, or its discussion of the general habeas principles applicable under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254. These portions of the Report and Recommendation are adopted in their entirety.

         II. Exhaustion of Claims

         Respondent asserts that the Magistrate Judge incorrectly determined that the Petitioner exhausted his claim that his Fifth Amendment right to due process was violated when the trial judge presided over his trial after stating multiple times that she would recuse herself. Resp't's Limited Objs. [#31]. Petitioner disagrees. Pet'r's Objs. to Resp't's Limited Objs [#39]. The court need not resolve this dispute. Although a court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 unless it appears that the petitioner has exhausted his available remedies in state court, id. § 2254(b)(1)(A), a court may deny the writ on the merits notwithstanding any failure of the petitioner to exhaust such remedies. Id. § 2254(b)(2). As set forth below, the writ is subject to dismissal on the merits.

         III. Alleged Violation of Fifth Amendment Right to Due Process

         Petitioner argues that the Massachusetts Appeals Court's decision upholding the trial judge's decision to preside over his trial was a violation of his right to due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution and was contrary to and an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. Pet'r's Objs. [#38]. Petitioner points to In re Murchison, in which the Supreme Court found a due process violation where a judge was both the “one-man grand jury” and the judge trying the charges. See 349 U.S. 133, 138 (1955). Petitioner contends that the instant case is very similar to In re Murchison because the trial judge here “heard the same kind of evidence a grand jury judge would have heard.” Pet'r's Objs. 3 [#38]. But the Supreme Court's concern in In re Murchison was not the judge's familiarity with the evidence in the case before him, but the dual roles the judge played. The Supreme Court explained that “no man is permitted to try cases where he has an interest in the outcome, ” and that “[h]aving been a part of [the accusatory] process a judge cannot be, in the very nature of things, wholly disinterested in the conviction or acquittal of those accused.” 349 U.S. at 137. Here, there is no similar allegation that the trial judge had an interest in the outcome of the proceedings or had any dual role.

         Petitioner points to no other Supreme Court precedent setting forth clearly established law.

         On de novo review, the court adopts the magistrate judge's thorough review of federal case law and application to the record here, finding, as did the magistrate judge, that the trial judge's decision not to recuse herself does not rise to a constitutional violation, and that the Massachusetts Appeals Court's decision was not contrary to, nor did it involve an unreasonable application of, clearly established Supreme Court law.

         IV. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO COMPULSORY PROCESS.

         In his petition, Lacen stated that the trial court erred in not allowing him to impeach Trooper Flanagan with the testimony of the prosecutor, in violation of his Sixth Amendment rights. Pet. 9 [#1]. The magistrate judge noted that Lacen's references to the Sixth Amendment and his application of the law to the facts, both in the state court proceedings and here:

make clear that he is arguing that he was prevented from impeaching Trooper Flanagan on cross-examination with statements he allegedly made to the [prosecutor], that he was prevented from putting on this evidence again when he was not permitted to call the [prosecutor] as a witness at trial, and that his right to present evidence in his favor was further violated when he was not allowed to voir dire the [prosecutor] after trial. Given the facts of the case, he properly made claims concerning his right to cross-examine the witness against him, his right to compulsory process, and generally his Sixth Amendment right to offer testimony in his defense. None of these claims is “misplaced.”

R. & R. 12-13 [#30]. Respondent objects to this “re-framing” of the petitioner's claim, while at the same time concurring with the magistrate judge's ultimate focus on compulsory process. Resp't's Limited Obj. 5 [#31]. Petitioner does not respond to this objection. On de novo review, the court finds that the magistrate judge's explanation of the ...


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.