United States District Court, D. Vermont
JOSEPH P. CASTEGNARO, Petitioner,
STATE OF VERMONT, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (DOCS. 7 & 8)
Christina Reiss Chief Judge.
matter came before the court for a review of the Magistrate
Judge's June 7, 2016 Report and Recommendation ("R
& R") (Doc. 8). On December 30, 2015, Petitioner
Joseph P. Castegnaro filed a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 1). Petitioner
contends that "[t]he evidence was insufficient to
establish that [he] was guilty of violating an abuse
prevention order." (Doc. 1 at 5.) In response to the
petition, the State of Vermont (the "State") filed
a motion to dismiss (Doc. 7), which Petitioner did not
oppose. In his R & R, the Magistrate Judge recommends
granting the State's motion to dismiss. No party has
filed an objection to the R & R, and the deadline for
doing so has passed.
13, 2013, Petitioner, who was represented by counsel at the
time, was convicted of two counts of violating an abuse
prevention order, second or subsequent offense, in violation
of 13 V.S.A. § 1030(a), (b). Petitioner was sentenced to
two concurrent terms of eight to nine years of imprisonment,
which he is currently serving in the custody of the Vermont
Department of Corrections.
entry order on Petitioner's direct appeal, the Vermont
Supreme Court summarized the State's evidence against
Petitioner as follows:
In July 2012, [Petitioner] was served with an abuse
prevention order. The order required [Petitioner] to remain
100 feet away from the victim and her residence; it also
prohibited [Petitioner] from contacting the victim "in
any way, " including "indirectly . . . through a
third party or in any other manner." [Petitioner] was
subsequently charged with violating the order by being within
100 feet of the victim's residence on or about September
1, 2012, and for having third-party contact with the victim
on or about September 9, 2012. At trial, two witnesses
testified . . . that [Petitioner] was near the victim's
residence on September 1, 2012. Another witness testified
that, on September 9, 2012, [Petitioner] asked her to tell
the victim to call him.
State v. Castegnaro, 2014 WL 3714918, at *1
(Vt. July Term, 2014).
respect to Petitioner's argument that the State failed to
introduce sufficient evidence of when the alleged acts
occurred, the Vermont Supreme Court noted, and Petitioner
acknowledged, that "the actual date that the alleged
acts occurred is not an element of the crimes."
Id. The court recounted that:
[a] police officer testified that the victim contacted police
on September 1, 2012 and that he spoke that day to the victim
and a neighbor who observed the offense. The victim's
neighbor testified that she saw [Petitioner] in the
victim's driveway on September 1, within approximately 15
feet of victim's home. She testified that she was aware
of the abuse prevention order at that time. Another neighbor
testified that he saw [Petitioner] outside the victim's
home that day, knocking on the victim's door. He
reconstructed the date of this incident several days later
when he mentioned it to the victim. He recalled that he had
seen [Petitioner] knocking on the victim's door the same
day he got his food stamps-namely, September 1.
[A]nother of the victim's neighbors testified that on
September 9, 2012, she ran into [Petitioner] on her way to
church. [Petitioner] asked her to tell the victim that he
wanted the victim to call him because he was lonely. The
neighbor later relayed this information to the victim.
Id. at *2. Based on this testimony, the court
concluded that the State had presented sufficient evidence as
to the timing of the alleged acts.
district judge must make a de novo determination of
those portions of a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation to which an objection is made. Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Cullen v. United
States, 194 F.3d 401, 405 (2d Cir. 1999). The district
judge may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); accord
Cullen, 194 F.3d at 405. A district judge, however, is
not required to review the factual or legal conclusions of
the magistrate judge as to those portions of a report and
recommendation to which no objections are addressed.
Thomas v. Am, 474 U.S. 140, 150(1985).
ten page R & R, the Magistrate Judge carefully reviewed
the factual record and motion before the court and determined
the State's motion to dismiss should be granted. The
Magistrate Judge observed that Petitioner made no effort to
explain the factual basis for his petition and therefore
failed to satisfy the exacting legal standard employed by
federal courts when a petitioner challenges the sufficiency
of the evidence supporting his conviction. See Coleman v.
Johnson, 132 S.Ct. 2060, 2062 (2012) (per curiam)
(recognizing petitioners "face a high bar in federal
habeas proceedings" because "[a] reviewing court
may set aside the jury's verdict on the ground of
insufficient evidence only if no rational trier of fact could
have agreed with the jury" and "a federal court may
not overturn a state court decision rejecting a sufficiency
of the evidence challenge simply because the federal court
disagrees with the state court. The federal court instead may
do so only if the state court decision was 'objectively
unreasonable.'") (internal quotation marks omitted).
The court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's
recommendations and finds them well-reasoned. The court
therefore adopts the R & R in its entirety.
foregoing reasons, the court hereby ADOPTS the Magistrate
Judge's R & R (Doc. 8) as the court's Opinion and
Order. The ...