United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON AMENDED PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
Vanessa L. Bryant, United States District Judge
petitioner, Ralston Enrico Samuels, currently residing in
Jamaica, brings this action pro se for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (2000). He
challenges his conviction for sexual assault and risk of
injury to a minor on the ground that he was afforded
ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons that
follow, the petition is denied.
petitioner was convicted, after a jury trial, of sexual
assault in the second degree and risk of injury to a minor.
On direct appeal, the petitioner challenged his conviction on
three grounds: the trial court improperly replaced a juror
with an alternate using a nonstatutorily sanctioned method,
the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the state
to amend the long form information after the jury had been
impaneled, and the court improperly allowed the state to call
multiple constancy of accusation witnesses. The Connecticut
Appellate Court reversed the conviction based on its analysis
of the third ground and ordered a new trial. State v.
Samuels, 75 Conn.App. 671, 677-96, 817 A.2d 719, 725-36
(2003). The Connecticut Supreme Court granted the state's
petition for certification and, on May 10, 2005, reversed the
judgment of the Connecticut Appellate Court. State v.
Samuels, 273 Conn. 541, 543-44, 871 A.2d 1005, 1009-10
12, 2005, the petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas
corpus in state court. In his state habeas action, the
petitioner raised four claims of ineffective assistance of
counsel, all relating to medical and psychological testimony.
He argued that counsel should have retained a forensic
pediatric gynecologist, was ineffective in his
cross-examination of the examining gynecologist, should have
retained a forensic psychologist or expert in evaluating
child sexual abuse claims, and was ineffective in
cross-examining the state's expert. The state court
denied the petition. Samuels v. Warden, State
Prison, No. TSR-CV05-4000544-S, 2010 WL 5064654, at *3-6
(Conn. Super. Ct. Nov. 19, 2010). The Connecticut Appellate
Court dismissed the petitioner's appeal in a per curiam
decision and, on March 20, 2013, the Connecticut Supreme
Court denied certification. Samuels v. Commissioner of
Correction, 139 Conn.App. 906, 55 A.3d 626 (2012),
cert. denied, 308 Conn. 918, 62 A.3d 1132 (2013).
petitioner commenced this action by petition dated August 14,
2013. He included three grounds for relief. In the first
ground, the petitioner alleged that he was falsely accused.
In the second ground, he argued that his conviction is the
result of malicious prosecution and/or perjured testimony,
that the severity of his sentence violates the Eighth
Amendment, and that the state destroyed evidence. In the
third ground, the petitioner alleged that trial counsel was
ineffective because counsel failed to call certain witnesses
to testify that the petitioner took the victim and members of
her family shopping on the days the assaults occurred,
investigate whether the victim had a boyfriend, investigate
the dates on which members of the victim's family
traveled to Grenada, consult medical and psychiatric experts
and challenge the testimony of the state's expert
respondents filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the
petitioner had exhausted his state court remedies only with
regard to a portion of the third ground for relief. The Court
granted the motion and dismissed the case. See Doc.
#20. In May 2015, the petitioner moved to reopen the case and
proceed only on the exhausted claims. The Court granted the
motion and ordered the respondents to address the merits of
the exhausted claims, that trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to consult medical and psychiatric experts and
effectively cross-examine the state's experts.
Connecticut Supreme Court determined that the jury reasonably
could have found the following facts. The victim, age
thirteen, went to live with her grandmother prior to the
start of the 1998-99 school year. The grandmother, who was
partially blind, owned a three-story house. She lived on the
first floor and the petitioner, who was twenty-four years
old, rented a basement apartment. He frequently spent time
with the victim and her grandmother. Samuels, 273
Conn. at 545, 841 A.2d at 1010.
early summer of 1999, the petitioner and the grandmother were
involved in a dispute over an allegedly unpaid loan the
grandmother had made to the petitioner. After several
arguments, the grandmother asked the petitioner to move out
of the apartment. The petitioner's former girlfriend
helped him move. She told the grandmother that the victim had
written letters to the petitioner. The grandmother asked the
victim's uncle to determine whether anything
inappropriate had occurred between the petitioner and the
victim. Id., 841 A.2d at 1010.
response to her uncle's questions, the victim said that
she had sexual intercourse with the petitioner on four
separate occasions. The victim's mother immediately
notified the police. A police officer interviewed the victim
and her family and filed an official report in July 1999.
Id., 841 A.2d at 1010.
Standard of Review
federal court will entertain a petition for writ of habeas
corpus challenging a state court conviction only if the
petitioner claims that his custody violates the Constitution
or federal laws. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).
federal court cannot grant a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus filed by a person in state custody with regard to any
claim that was rejected on the merits by the state court