United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge
Charles Arokium brings this petition for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He is currently on
parole after being convicted in Connecticut state court for
possession of narcotics with intent to sell. Petitioner
argues that his conviction was based on evidence obtained in
violation of the Fourth Amendment. But it is well established
that, if the state courts have provided an opportunity for
full and fair litigation of a Fourth Amendment claim, federal
courts cannot grant habeas corpus relief on that claim. I
will therefore deny the petition.
early 2009, an officer with the Stamford Police Department
received a tip from a confidential informant that a man was
selling cocaine out of a hotel room. See State v.
Arokium, 143 Conn.App. 419, 421-22 (2013). The informant
said that he knew the man as “Charlie, ” and gave
the officer a physical description of the man. The officer
learned from the hotel's clerk that the room was being
rented in petitioner's name. Ibid.
officer had the informant make a controlled purchase from the
seller to confirm that cocaine was being sold. The officer
then stationed himself outside of the hotel room, and saw at
least two individuals enter and exit the hotel room.
Id. at 423. Eventually, the officer noticed
petitioner leave the hotel room and, after following him on
foot, the officer determined that petitioner matched the
physical description of the cocaine seller given by the
informant. Id. at 424. Petitioner got into a cab in
the hotel parking lot. The officer approached the cab,
displayed his badge, and ordered petitioner out of the car.
Petitioner did not immediately comply with the order, and the
officer opened the cab's door and pulled petitioner out
and onto the ground to be handcuffed. Id. at 424-25.
While the officer was removing petitioner from the car, a bag
petitioner had been holding fell to the ground and spilled
some of its contents. The officer noticed, among other
things, a clear plastic bag containing a white powder that he
suspected to be cocaine. Id. at 425.
was charged in Connecticut Superior Court with possession of
narcotics and possession of narcotics with intent to sell. He
filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained by the
police when he was pulled from the cab, arguing that the
police had neither reasonable suspicion to stop him nor
probable cause to arrest him. Ibid. The trial court
denied the motion after a suppression hearing, and petitioner
was found guilty after a jury trial. Id. at 425-26.
appealed his conviction, reiterating the arguments made in
his motion to suppress. Id. The Connecticut
Appellate Court considered at length and then rejected
petitioner's challenge to the denial of his motion to
suppress. Id. at 433-38. Petitioner sought review in
the Connecticut Supreme Court, but his petition was denied.
Doc. #1 at 2.
later sought postconviction review in Connecticut state
court, contending that his trial counsel was ineffective in
the manner that he litigated the suppression hearing.
an evidentiary hearing, the state habeas trial court denied
Accordingly, the court concludes that the petitioner has
failed to present any persuasive evidence that shows [trial
counsel] rendered deficient performance for failing to
investigate and locate all potential witnesses who would have
provided contradictory evidence to the police testimony at
the suppression hearing. The petitioner also has failed to
show that he was not advised about his right to testify at
the suppression hearing. Finally, the petitioner has not
presented any legal authority to this court that [trial
counsel] could have relied upon in the motion to suppress
that undermines this court's confidence in the outcome of
the motion to suppress hearing, nor has the petitioner
demonstrated that the strategy [trial counsel] employed was
Arokium v. Warden, State Prison, 2014 WL 3584746, at
*12 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2014). The Connecticut Appellate Court
dismissed petitioner's appeal of the habeas court's
ruling, see 164 Conn.App. 901 (2016), and the
Connecticut Supreme Court likewise declined to review
petitioner's appeal. Petitioner has now filed the instant
federal habeas corpus petition.
courts have limited authority to overturn state court
convictions. See generally 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
The limitations on this authority are even stricter in the
context of a habeas petition raising Fourth Amendment claims.
It is well established that a federal court may not grant
habeas corpus relief on the basis of a Fourth Amendment claim
“where the State has provided an opportunity for full
and fair litigation” of the claim. See Stone v.
Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 482 (1976). A federal court may
only review a Fourth Amendment claim brought in a habeas
petition “(a) if the state has provided no corrective
procedures at all to redress the alleged fourth amendment
violations; or (b) if the state has provided a corrective
mechanism, but the defendant was precluded from using that
mechanism because of an unconscionable breakdown in the
underlying process.” Capellan v. Riley, 975
F.2d 67, 70 (2d Cir. 1992).
only stated claim here-that his arrest “was the result
of an illegal stop, search, and seizure in violation of [his]
constitutional rights”-arises from the Fourth
Amendment. Doc. #1 at 5. But it is clear that he was able to
fully and fairly litigate this issue in the Connecticut state
courts. Accordingly, I have no authority pursuant to 28