United States District Court, D. Connecticut
STEVEN K. STANLEY, Petitioner,
MULLIGAN et al., Respondents.
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2254
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.
Steven K. Stanley has filed a pro se petition for a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He
challenges his state court criminal convictions on the
grounds that evidence was introduced against him in violation
of the Fourth Amendment, that the evidence was not sufficient
to convict him, and that his rights were violated during the
course of state habeas corpus proceedings. Because I conclude
that Stanley has not shown that the state courts engaged in
an unreasonable finding of facts or application of the law, I
will deny his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
is currently a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction. On December 12, 2012, a jury
convicted Stanley of 100 counts of criminal violation of a
protective order in violation of Connecticut General Statutes
§ 53a-223, stalking in the first degree in violation of
Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-181c, and threatening
in the second degree in violation of Connecticut General
Statutes § 53a-62. He was sentenced on February 25,
2013, to a total effective sentence of eighteen years in
appealed his conviction to the Connecticut Appellate Court.
See State v. Stanley, 161 Conn.App. 10 (2015),
cert. denied, 320 Conn. 918 (2016). He raised
several claims, including that there was insufficient
evidence to support a finding that he personally made the
calls to the victim that served as the basis for his
convictions. The Appellate Court found the evidence was
sufficient, see 161 Conn.App. at 14-16, and the
Connecticut Supreme Court denied Stanley's petition for
certification for appeal. See State v. Stanley, 320
Conn. 918 (2016).
meantime, Stanley filed the first of four state habeas
petitions on August 14, 2013. He claimed trial errors and
improper conduct by the prosecutors. See Stanley v.
Warden, 2014 WL 1345266, at *1 (Conn. Super. 2014).
Judge Cobb dismissed the trial error claims as barred by the
doctrine of procedural default. Ibid. She found that
Stanley's allegations regarding prosecutorial
misconduct-specifically that the prosecutor intimidated his
witnesses at his criminal trial and failed to provide him
with phone records-may have been procedurally defaulted, and
that if not, they nonetheless failed on the merits.
Ibid. She dismissed the petition, concluding that
Stanley's phone records had been produced by the
prosecution, that only the victim's phone records had
actually been entered into evidence at trial, and that the
prosecutors did not threaten or intimidate witnesses.
Connecticut Appellate Court dismissed Stanley's appeal.
See Stanley v. Commissioner of Correction, 156
Conn.App. 903 (2015) (per curiam). Stanley did not
seek certification for an appeal to the Connecticut Supreme
filed a second state habeas petition on July 7, 2015. Judge
Sferrazza dismissed all but one of his claims and then held a
trial on his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
See Stanley v. Warden, 2017 WL 2539074, at *1 (Conn.
Super. 2017). Judge Sferrazza concluded that Stanley could
not show that his counsel was ineffective. Id. at
*5. Stanley appealed the ruling, and the Connecticut
Appellate Court affirmed without opinion. See Stanley v.
Commissioner of Correction, 194 Conn.App. 903 (2019).
from his effort to seek habeas relief, Stanley petitioned for
a new trial on July 31, 2015, pursuant to Connecticut General
Statutes § 52-270. He alleged prosecutorial misconduct,
deprivation of the opportunity to prepare a defense, and
abuse of judicial discretion during the trial. Judge Nazarro
granted the respondent's motion for summary judgment on
the ground that the first two claims were barred by res
judicata, because they had already been decided on
direct appeal or in a habeas proceeding, and that the third
claim was barred either by res judicata or because
it had not been diligently pursued. See Stanley v.
State's Attorney, 2016 WL 4007590 (Conn. Super.
2016). This judgment was affirmed without opinion by the
Connecticut Appellate Court, see Stanley v. State's
Attorney, 179 Conn.App. 901 (2018), and the Connecticut
Supreme Court denied the petition for certification to
appeal, see Stanley v. State's Attorney, 328
Conn. 926 (2018).
19, 2017, Stanley filed a third state habeas petition
claiming that prosecutors had threatened his witnesses, that
he had not received notice when his telephone records were
procured, that the judge mishandled his criminal trial, and
that the cell phone number he called so many times did not
actually belong to the victim. In an oral ruling issued
February 21, 2018, Judge Mullarkey granted respondents'
motion to dismiss on the grounds that the same claims were
subjects of Stanley's pending appeals, or that Stanley
failed to raise them in earlier proceedings at which they
could have been raised. Doc. #10-8 at 43-44 (transcript of
ruling); Stanley v. Comm. of Corr., CV17-4008840-S.
Stanley appealed the decision, which is currently pending
before the Appellate Court. Stanley v. Comm. of
Corr., AC 41705.
filed a fourth state habeas petition on March 28, 2018,
alleging that prosecutors behaved improperly at his trial and
intimidated his witnesses at one of his subsequent habeas
proceedings. See Stanley v. Comm'r of
Correction, 2019 WL 5681384 (Conn. Super. Ct.
2019). Judge Newson denied the petition on the
grounds that Stanley's claim of prosecutorial misconduct
at his criminal trial was barred by res judicata and
that he had not advanced any evidence in support of his claim
of additional prosecutorial misconduct at one of his habeas
trials. Ibid. Stanley's appeal is pending.
Stanley v. Comm. of Corr., AC 42876.
filed the instant federal habeas petition on March 15, 2019.
Doc. #1. Although his claims are difficult to interpret, I
understand him to raise the following three grounds for
relief: (1) that the prosecution improperly procured his
telephone records without notice and that their admission at
trial violated his rights; (2) that there was insufficient
evidence for the jury to conclude that he made the telephone
calls to the victim; and (3) that Judge Newson erred in
declining to enforce all of the witness subpoenas for one of
Stanley's state habeas corpus hearings. Respondents have
moved to dismiss the petition. Doc. #9. Stanley has filed
multiple responses. Docs. #13, #14, #15.
courts have very limited authority to overturn state court
criminal convictions. A state court defendant who seeks
relief by way of a federal petition for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 must show that his
state court conviction was rendered by means of a very clear
violation of federal law-i.e., that the state
court's adjudication of his claims “(1) resulted in
a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ”
or that it “(2) resulted in a decision that was based
on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the