United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge
Eliezer Torres was convicted of possessing heroin with the
intent to sell it. He brings this action pro se for
a writ of habeas corpus, principally arguing that his arrest
and sentencing were based on intentionally false testimony.
Because petitioner has not fully presented and exhausted his
claims in the Connecticut state courts, I will dismiss his
petition without prejudice to re-filing in the event that he
properly exhausts his claims.
October 22, 2010, detectives with the Bristol Police
Department applied for a warrant to search petitioner's
apartment in Bristol, Connecticut, for heroin and items used
to process, distribute, and sell heroin. Doc. #1-1 at 2. The
affidavit in support of the search warrant included
statements about controlled purchases of heroin made by a
confidential informant from petitioner. Id. at
3. A Connecticut Superior Court judge granted the
application for a search warrant. Id. at 7.
October 26, 2010, before executing the warrant to search the
petitioner's apartment, officers with the Bristol Police
Department pulled petitioner's car over after observing
him allegedly engaged in transactions involving the sale of
narcotics. See State v. Torres, 2015 WL 9242202, at
*3 (Conn. Super. 2015). After stopping the car, an officer
observed suspicious packages in the map pocket on the
driver's side of the car, and petitioner admitted that
the packages contained heroin. See ibid. A search of
the car and petitioner's person disclosed more than two
thousand dollars in cash.
officers placed petitioner under arrest for possession of
narcotics with intent to sell. See ibid. They then
went to petitioner's apartment and executed the search
warrant. There, the officers seized five additional bags
containing heroin and evidence reflecting that the apartment
was petitioner's residence. See Id. at *3-4.
was charged with drug possession offenses in four different
cases. Doc. #1 at 2. He pleaded guilty to one count of
possession of narcotics with intent to sell in exchange for
the other charges being dropped. See ibid. The
Connecticut Superior Court imposed a total effective sentence
of five years of imprisonment followed by five years of
special parole. Ibid.
did not appeal his conviction. Id. at 3. Instead,
petitioner filed a state court habeas corpus petition,
alleging ineffective assistance of counsel and the
suppression of evidence that was favorable to him in
violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
Petitioner later withdrew this petition, apparently without a
hearing and prior to a decision on the merits. Id.
then filed this federal habeas corpus petition. For his first
claim of relief, petitioner alleges that the warrant issued
to search his apartment was based on false material
statements made by the police. Doc. #1 at 9, 22-26. For his
second claim of relief, petitioner alleges that the
prosecution misrepresented the evidence against him at
sentencing. Id. at 11. According to petitioner, he
did not previously raise these claims to the highest state
court having jurisdiction over these claims. Id. at
filing the present federal petition, petitioner filed a
motion to correct illegal sentence in the Connecticut
Superior Court. See Torres, 2015 WL 9242202, at *1.
Petitioner claimed that the prosecutor in his case included
false and misleading evidence in his statement to the court
during his sentencing hearing in 2011. See ibid. The
Superior Court denied the motion. See Id. at *6.
Petitioner has also previously filed a federal lawsuit
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Bristol Police
Department and certain Bristol police officers arising from
the same events described in this ruling, and that lawsuit
was dismissed. See Torres v. Town of Bristol, 2015
WL 1442722 (D. Conn. 2015).
federal 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). With certain exceptions, a prerequisite to
habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is that a
petitioner have previously presented and fully exhausted his
federal claims in the state courts. Id., §
2254(b)(1)(A); Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170,
181 (2011). “This requires that the prisoner fairly
present his constitutional claim to the state courts, which
he accomplishes by presenting the essential factual and legal
premises of his federal constitutional claim to the highest
state court capable of reviewing it.” Jackson v.
Conway, 763 F.3d 115, 133 (2d Cir. 2014). As the Second
Circuit has explained, the exhaustion rule “ensur[es]
that state courts receive a legitimate opportunity to pass on
a petitioner's federal claims and that federal courts
respect the state courts' ability to correct their own
mistakes.” Galdamez v. Keane, 394 F.3d 68,
72-74 (2d Cir. 2005) (Sotomayor, J.).
to exhaust may be excused only where “there is no
opportunity to obtain redress in state court or if the
corrective process is so clearly deficient to render futile
any effort to obtain relief.” Duckworth v.
Serrano, 454 U.S. 1, 3 (1981) (per curiam). A
petitioner cannot, however, simply wait until appellate
remedies no longer are available and argue that the claim is
exhausted. See Galdamez v. Keane, 394 F.3d 68, 73-74
(2d Cir. 2005).
concedes in his petition that he has not exhausted through
the highest state court of Connecticut the claims that he now
seeks to raise in this federal petition for habeas corpus.
Doc. #1 at 10, 12. He did not pursue a direct appeal from his
conviction, and he withdrew his state habeas corpus petition
and so never presented it to the state's highest court.
Id. at 5-6. Although petitioner has separately
pursued a claim by way of a motion to correct illegal
sentence in state court, he did not file that motion until
after initiating this action, and there is no indication that
he has pursued that claim to the Connecticut Supreme ...