United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D
April 24, 1957
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, EX REL. DE VANDLIS WIGGINS, PETITIONER,
JOSEPH E. RAGEN, WARDEN, ILLINOIS STATE PENITENTIARY, JOLIET, ILLINOIS, RESPONDENT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Perry, District Judge.
On March 27, 1951, the petitioner, having pleaded guilty to an
indictment charging armed robbery, was sentenced by the State
court to serve terms in the Illinois penitentiary. In 1954 the
petitioner prosecuted his petition under the Post-Conviction law
of Illinois, S.H.A. Ill. ch. 38, § 826 et seq., which was denied
on December 22, 1954. Upon writ of error to the Supreme Court of
Illinois, this order was affirmed. Petition for certiorari was
denied by the Supreme Court of the United States on January 10,
1956, Wiggins v. People of State of Illinois, 350 U.S. 940, 76
S.Ct. 314, 100 L.Ed. 820.
On January 26, 1956, the petitioner filed his petition for writ
of habeas corpus, attaching thereto two exhibits: The transcript
of the arraignment proceedings in the Criminal Court of Cook
County and a copy of the detailed order of the Supreme Court of
Illinois affirming the lower court's denial of a petition
prosecuted under the Post-Conviction Act. After careful
consideration of the petition and the two exhibits, it appeared
to this court that the issues advanced by the petitioner had been
adequately reviewed by the Illinois courts and therefore need not
be re-examined by this court. Ex parte Hawk, 321 U.S. 114, 118,
64 S.Ct. 448, 88 L.Ed. 572; Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 465, 73
S.Ct. 397, 97 L.Ed. 469; United States ex rel. Gawron v. Ragen, 7
Cir., 211 F.2d 902; United States ex rel. O'Connell v. Ragen, 7
Cir., 212 F.2d 272.
Accordingly, on its own motion, this court dismissed the
petition with prejudice on February 16, 1956.
The United States Court of Appeals, 7 Cir., 238 F.2d 309,
granted a certificate of probable cause and on October 25, 1956,
after argument, reversed the order of dismissal and remanded the
cause to this court. Thereafter the respondent was ordered to
show cause why the writ should not issue. The petitioner filed
his response to the answer and argument was had thereon. Two
additional exhibits are now a part of the record: The transcript
of the post-conviction proceedings, and the affidavit of counsel
appointed by the Criminal Court at the time of the arraignment
The record in this case reflects that the Supreme Court of
Illinois examined the identical claims advanced by the petitioner
in the instant cause, namely, incompetence of court-appointed
counsel, deprivation of the right to choose his own counsel, and
refusal of the trial court to grant him a continuance to be ready
for trial with a competent attorney. It considered these
three-fold claims despite the fact that the petitioner limited
his post-conviction proceedings to one single issue — the right
to counsel of his own choosing.
This court has now reviewed the complete record of the
arraignment proceedings and finds that Judge Crowley was
extremely fair to the petitioner in this case. He afforded the
petitioner more than ample opportunity to obtain counsel of his
own choosing and he demonstrated patience in dealing with his
This record clearly shows that the petitioner was first
arraigned on January 24, 1951 in the Criminal Court of Cook
County and not on March 5, 1951 as he
alleges in his petition. He eventually admits this in his reply
to the answer to rule to show cause. On January 24, 1951, upon
the petitioner's representations that he intended to procure
private counsel and upon his motion, the cause was continued to
February 5, 1951.
On February 5, 1951, the cause was again called and again the
petitioner advised the court that while he did not have counsel
he hoped that some one would obtain counsel for him. Upon his
request that a public defender be appointed for him "for the time
being," the court entered such an order and a plea of "not
guilty" was made. The cause was then continued to March 5, 1951
to enable the petitioner to obtain counsel of his own choosing.
On March 5, 1951, the cause was again called for trial at which
time the petitioner requested a sixty-day continuance for the
purpose of procuring counsel. The court refused to accede to this
request but instead, on petitioner's motion, continued the cause
to March 27, 1951 to enable petitioner to obtain private counsel.
On March 27, 1951, petitioner again advised the court that he had
been unable to obtain private counsel. The court advised the
petitioner that no further continuance could be granted and the
matter was called for trial.
During the course of the hearing on March 27, 1951, the public
defender complained of the petitioner's lack of cooperation and
flatly advised the court that he did not wish to represent the
petitioner any further. The court stated that he would have to
continue with the representation unless the petitioner procured
his own attorney. Thereupon, the court advised the petitioner
that no further continuance could be granted and that the case
would go to trial. The petitioner eventually stated that he
desired a bench trial although he wanted counsel of his own
choosing. While the court continued to advise him of his rights,
the petitioner suddenly changed his plea to guilty. At this point
the public defender interposed an objection and warned the court
that the plea could not be accepted unless the petitioner would
cooperate and discuss this matter with the public defender;
unless the petitioner did this, the public defender felt that he
would not continue to represent him. Through questioning of the
petitioner by the court it was ascertained that the petitioner
desired to confer with the public defender and that he bore no
personal animosity toward the public defender. It was also
ascertained that the public defender desired to discuss this
matter with the petitioner. A continuance of two hours was
granted by the court for this purpose. The petitioner considered
this satisfactory. Two hours later the hearing was resumed at
which time the petitioner persisted in his plea of guilty. Before
the court accepted this plea the record shows that Judge Crowley
carefully advised the petitioner of his rights and of the penalty
for the crimes alleged to have been committed.
From this record this court finds that Judge Crowley zealously
guarded the constitutional rights of the petitioner. The court
warned him of his rights and of the consequences of his plea in
the simplest of language. The petitioner was given every
opportunity to consider his choice.
The record reveals that the petitioner skillfully avoided
prosecution under the Habitual Criminal Act, which may well have
resulted in a more severe sentence. Yet, he uttered no complaint
as to the propriety of the proceedings or the circumstances under
which his pleas of guilty had been accepted.
The record shows that the petitioner's claims are without merit
and therefore the petition will be dismissed with prejudice.
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