RABAIA v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 8/31/2015. (TH, ) Modified on 8/31/2015 (TH).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 15-4809 (JBS)
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al.,
SIMANDLE, Chief Judge:
Before the Court is Petitioner Hajes Rabaia’s petition for
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Docket
Petitioner, a state-sentenced inmate incarcerated at
South Woods State Prison, filed an application for writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, on June 17, 2015. (Docket
By Order dated July 13, 2015, this Court
administratively terminated the petition for failure to submit
the filing fee or a complete application to proceed in forma
pauperis, as well as for failure to use the form provided by the
Clerk for § 2254 petitions. (Docket Entry 2).
Petitioner submitted an amended petition for habeas
corpus and the filing fee, (Docket Entry 3), and the Clerk
reopened the matter for the Court’s consideration on August 11,
Section 2254(a) of Title 28 provides in relevant part:
(a) [A] 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.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).
Habeas Rule 4 requires the assigned judge to sua
sponte dismiss a habeas petition or application without ordering
a responsive pleading under certain circumstances:
The clerk must promptly forward the petition to a judge
under the court's assignment procedure, and the judge
must promptly examine it. If it plainly appears from the
petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner
is not entitled to relief in the district court, the
judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to
notify the petitioner...
28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 4.
Habeas Rule 2 provides in relevant part:
(c) Form. The petition must:
(1) specify all the grounds for relief available to the
(2) state the facts supporting each ground;
(3) state the relief requested;
(4) be printed, typewritten, or legibly handwritten; and
(5) be signed under penalty of perjury ...
28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 2(c).
The Supreme Court explained the habeas pleading
requirements as follows:
proceedings, a complaint need only provide “fair notice
of what the plaintiff's claim is, and the grounds upon
which it rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957). Habeas Rule 2(c) is more demanding. It provides
that the petition must “specify all the grounds for
relief available to the petitioner” and “state the facts
supporting each ground.” See also Advisory Committee's
note on subd. (c) of Habeas Corpus Rule 2, 28 U.S.C., p.
469 (“In the past, petitions have frequently contained
mere conclusions of law, unsupported by any facts. [But]
it is the relationship of the facts to the claim asserted
that is important....”); Advisory Committee's Note on
Habeas Corpus Rule 4, 28 U.S.C., p. 471 (“‘[N]otice’
pleading is not sufficient, for the petition is expected
to state facts that point to a real possibility of
A prime purpose of Rule 2(c)'s demand that habeas
petitioners plead with particularity is to assist the
district court in determining whether the State should
be ordered to “show cause why the writ should not be
granted.” § 2243. Under Habeas Corpus Rule 4, if “it
plainly appears from the petition ... that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief in district court,”
the court must summarily dismiss the petition without
ordering a responsive pleading.
Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 655 (2005).
“Federal courts are authorized to dismiss summarily
any habeas petition that appears legally insufficient on its
face.” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994). The United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has found summary
dismissal without the filing of an answer warranted where none
of the grounds alleged in the petition would entitle the
petitioner to habeas relief, see United States v. Thomas, 221
F.3d 430, 437 (3d Cir. 2000), or the petition contains vague and
conclusory allegations, see United States v. Dawson, 857 F.2d
923, 928 (3d Cir. 1988).
Petitioner raises two grounds for relief. The first
ground, entitled “ineffective assistance of counsel,” merely
asserts: “Counsel failed to obtain evidence that would have
supported my version of events that happened, Failed to call
supporting witnesses.” (Docket Entry 3 at 6). The second ground,
entitled “Extended term was improperly admitted,” reads in its
entirety: “There was not enough evidence in my record to say I
was a repeat offender, the crime at hand was only a second
degree.” (Docket Entry 3 at 8).
Petitioner’s assertions of errors by trial counsel and
the trial court are too vague to proceed as pled. The Petition
presently before this Court will therefore be dismissed,
pursuant to Habeas Rules 2 and 4, without prejudice, as
Petitioner has failed to plead with particularity the facts
supporting his claims of constitutional error, as required by
Rule 2(c)(2); see also Advisory Committee's Note on Habeas
Corpus Rule 4, 28 U.S.C., p. 471.
Ground One, labeled ineffective assistance of counsel,
fails to set forth grounds for relief. Generally, a claim for
ineffective assistance of counsel requires demonstrating two
prongs: first, that counsel's performance failed to meet the
minimum level of reasonableness required by the circumstances,
and second, that the deficiency mattered, that is, that the
outcome would have been different but for counsel’s inadequacy.
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). Here,
Petitioner has not supplied any basis for either required prong
to be met.
Ground Two is also deficient as it does not specify
each federal ground on which the extended term is being
contested, as required by Habeas Rule 2(c)(1). Petitioner also
does not indicate what his prior record was and why it was
deficient to meet the statutory standard.
The dismissal of the Petition is without prejudice to
the filing of a new petition which complies with the aforesaid
pleading requirements and is on the form provided by the Clerk.
Any amended petition must provide specific facts that
support Petitioner’s claims for relief, including, but not
limited to, what the exculpatory evidence was, how it would have
supported his defense, and why counsel’s failure to obtain it
constituted ineffective assistance of counsel.
A certificate of appealability pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(2) is denied because jurists of reason would not find it
debatable that dismissal of the Petition is correct. See Slack
v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000).
An appropriate Order accompanies this Opinion.
August 31, 2015
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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