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Hyatt v. Gelb

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

October 19, 2016

CHARKEEM HYATT, Petitioner, Appellant,
v.
BRUCE GELB, Superintendent, Respondent, Appellee.

         APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. William G. Young, U.S. District Judge]

          David M. Skeels and Committee for Public Counsel Services, on brief for appellant.

          Susanne Reardon, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Bureau, Appeals Division, and Maura Healey, Attorney General, on brief for appellee.

          Before Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

         Charkeem Hyatt, petitioner-appellant, contests the district court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Hyatt argues that Massachusetts state courts failed to apply the United States Supreme Court's holding in Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U.S. 97, 122 (1934), in denying his request to be present during the jury view of the crime scene. After careful consideration, we affirm the district court's denial of habeas corpus relief.

         I. Background

         On federal habeas review, the findings of fact of a state court "shall be presumed to be correct." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see Sumner v. Mata, 455 U.S. 591, 592-93 (1982) (per curiam). Accordingly, we must accept them unless convinced by clear and convincing evidence that they are erroneous. Lynch v. Ficco, 438 F.3d 35, 39 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting McCambridge v. Hall, 303 F.3d 24, 26 (1st Cir. 2002) (en banc)). We take the facts as presented by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, which affirmed Hyatt's conviction, supplemented with other record facts consistent with the state court's findings. Scoggins v. Hall, 765 F.3d 53, 54 (1st Cir. 2014).

         A. Trial

         In July 2009, Hyatt was involved in the shooting of four people outside a bar in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. A grand jury in Suffolk County indicted Hyatt on the following counts: one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, one count of unlawful possession of ammunition, one count of possession of a loaded firearm, three counts of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and four counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

         Hyatt pled not guilty to all counts, and a jury trial commenced on February 6, 2012, before Justice Brady of the Massachusetts Superior Court. On February 8, Justice Brady discussed the logistics and rules for a jury view of the scene where the shooting took place, which would take place on the following day. Hyatt's trial counsel requested Hyatt's presence during the view. Justice Brady responded that Hyatt could not go because of security reasons. He added, "He's in custody. I can't bring him. I don't have enough security people for that. I've never had a defendant [attend a view], other than one who's on the street."

         Later that day, Hyatt's counsel renewed her request that Hyatt be allowed to accompany the jury on the view. In response to the request, the court engaged in the following exchange:

THE COURT: Look, I'm sorry. He's in custody for very serious charges. It's a very serious event. I'm not going to allow him to come on the view because I just don't have adequate security. Further, I can't have him without chains out there, so the jury is going to be there. It just isn't a workable situation. So I understand that the [Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court] has never changed the Judge's discretion about that, so ...

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