United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. McConnell, Jr. United States District Judge.
Carpio filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF No. 1. Mr. Carpio
asserts three grounds for his petition: (1) the state
court's jury instructions deprived him of due process;
(2) he proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he
was not responsible for his actions; and (3) he was deprived
of his Sixth Amendment right to effective trial counsel. The
State of Rhode Island has moved to dismiss the petition (ECF
No. 6), and Mr. Carpio has objected (ECF No. 10). For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants the State's
motion, and the petition is dismissed.
Carpio is a state court prisoner serving sentences imposed
for first-degree murder of a police officer; discharging a
firearm while committing a crime of violence; and felony
assault with a dangerous weapon. The judgments of conviction
were affirmed by the Rhode Island Supreme Court. See
State v. Carpio, 43 A.3d 1 (R.I. 2012). Mr. Carpio
sought, and was denied, post-conviction relief in state
court. See Decision, Carpio v. State, No.
PM-2012-3716 (R.I. Super. Ct. Feb. 2, 2016) [hereinafter
"Decision"], cert, denied, No. SlM6-0086
(R.I. Mar. 6, 2017).Mr. Carpio filed this petition within the
one-year durational limit prescribed by 28 U.S.C. §
Court is aware of the limited review available to Mr. Carpio.
Both United States Supreme Court precedent, see, e.g.,
Cavazos v. Smith, 565 U.S. 1 (2011), and the
congressional mandate contained in the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Pub.
L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, restrict federal court review
of state court convictions and sentences. AEDPA, as codified
in § 2254(d)'s limited review, "reflects the
view that habeas corpus is a 'guard against extreme
malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems/ not a
substitute for ordinary error correction through
appeal." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S 86,
102-03 (2011) (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307, 332 n.5 (1979) (Stevens, J, concurring in judgment)).
state court adjudicates a claim on the merits, a federal
court may grant habeas relief only if the state court's
"adjudication of the claim" was either
"contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application
of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the
Supreme Court of the United States" or was "based
on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). A state
court's factual determinations are presumed to be
correct, with the petitioner bearing "the burden of
rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and
convincing evidence." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
Carpio first argues that the Rhode Island Superior Court
denied him due process of law by imposing an additional
requirement on the availability of an insanity defense.
Specifically, Mr. Carpio claims that the state court erred by
instructing the jury "that the result satisfy the
community's sense of justice, in the discretion of the
jury, on a case-specific basis." ECF No. 1 at 5.
close of evidence in Mr. Carpio's trial, the state court
instructed the jury on the Rhode Island insanity defense:
[A] person is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the
time of such conduct, as a result of mental disease or
defect, his capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of
his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of
the law [was] so substantially impaired that he cannot justly
be held responsible.
Carpio, 43 A.3d at 7 (second alteration in
original). The trial justice "also impressed upon the
jury that the question of whether defendant is criminally
responsible is a question for the fact finder-the jury-to
determine in light of community standards of
blameworthiness." Id. The jury rejected Mr.
Carpio's insanity defense.
appeal, Mr. Carpio argued that, by asking the jurors to
consider the "community's sense of justice, "
the trial court had imposed a "second tier" to his
burden of proof. Id. at 9-10. The Rhode Island
Supreme Court rejected this argument. That court held that,
because "the degree of 'substantial' impairment
required [for the insanity defense] is essentially a legal
rather than a medical question . . . the precise degree
demanded is necessarily governed by the community sense of
justice as represented by the trier of fact."
Id. at 11 (quoting State v. Johnson, 399
A.2d 469, 477 (R.I. 1979)). The Rhode Island Supreme Court
[T]he trial justice's inclusion of language such as
"community sense of justice" and
"blameworthiness" in the jury instructions did not
graft an additional element onto defendant's burden of
proof; the language merely elucidated the role of the jury in
passing on the merits of the defense. Simply put,
"community standards of blameworthiness" constitute
the backdrop against which the defendant's degree of
impairment is ...