Graziano v. United States

Legal Profession

New York Law Journal


Judge Joseph Bianco

Graziano owned a bar since 1999. He had a contentious relationship with the owners of abutting business Roseanne's Cards Galore. In March 2008 a jury convicted Graziano of arson, conspiracy to commit arson, and using a destructive device during a crime of violence, for his role in an Aug. 2003 fire at Roseanne's. The destructive device charge was dismissed. Second Circuit affirmed district court's July 1, 2009, judgment. Rejecting Graziano's assertions of trial counsel's ineffectiveness, district court denied Graziano vacatur under 28 USC §2255. Trial counsel's performance did not fall below an objective standard of reasonableness. Moreover, even if counsel had performed actions Graziano believed he should have, there was no reasonable probability that the trial's outcome would have been different. In addition to finding it clear that Graziano's lawyer found the recantation by Morrow—the fire's perpetrator—incredible, the court found counsel's decision not to appeal denial of a Rule 29 acquittal motion not objectively unreasonable. Morrow's testimony established the existence of an agreement between Graziano and Morrow to set a fire at Roseanne's, and established that Graziano knowingly and wilfully aided in that endeavor.

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