Mendoza v. Lee

U.S. DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Criminal Practice

New York Law Journal

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Judge Joanna Seybert

State appellate court upheld Mendoza's convictions—and sentences—for sexually abusing a young girl. It found the girl competent to give sworn testimony because the trial court's examination revealed she knew the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie, and she promised to tell the truth. It also found the trial court properly exercised its discretion in allowing the prosecution's expert to testify as to the lack of physical findings of abuse. District court denied Mendoza 28 USC §2254 habeas relief rejecting, among others, his claim that the trial court's evidentiary errors violated his due process rights, and that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by trial court's refusal to suppress statements made to the police. Noting Mendoza's reliance on state law to support his evidentiary arguments to the appellate court, district court determined that Mendoza's assertion that trial court's evidentiary errors "denied him a fair trial" did not put the state court on notice that he was asserting a federal due process violation. Noting that he had already appealed to the appellate division and the state's high court, district court found Mendoza barred from raising his unexhausted federal due process claim in state court.

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