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UNITED STATES EX REL. GARDNER v. MEYER

April 20, 1981

UNITED STATES EX REL. WILLIAM GARDNER, JR., PETITIONER,
v.
LEO MEYER, WARDEN, AND ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aspen, District Judge:

  MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Petitioner William Gardner ("Petitioner") filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Petitioner is currently incarcerated at the East Moline Correctional Center,*fn1 where he is serving a ten to twenty year sentence for the July, 1974, armed robbery of a wholesale book and magazine distributorship. His conviction was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court in People v. Gardner, 82 Ill. App.3d 1195, 42 Ill.Dec. 131, 408 N.E.2d 509 (1st Dist., 1980), cert. denied, (Sept. 29, 1980). Since the grounds for relief asserted in the instant habeas corpus action are substantially the same as those raised in the direct appeal, this Court holds that petitioner has exhausted his available state court remedies in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b).

The standard to be used in deciding a motion for summary judgment is that the "party moving for summary judgment has the burden of clearly establishing the nonexistence of any genuine issue of fact that is material to a judgment in his favor." Cedillo v. International Association of Bridge & Structural Iron Workers, Local Union No. 1, 603 F.2d 7, 10 (7th Cir. 1979). All pleadings and supporting papers must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 994, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962); Stringer v. Rowe, 616 F.2d 993, 999 (7th Cir. 1980).

SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE

Petitioner alleges that the evidence introduced at his trial was insufficient to support his conviction for armed robbery because it failed to establish a connection between the stolen checks he admittedly cashed and those supposedly taken during the robbery. However, the complainant, owner of the book and magazine distributorship, identified petitioner several times as one of the men who robbed him at gunpoint. Complainant testified that on August 25, 1974, he identified a photograph of petitioner out of eight photographs shown to him by the police as one of the men who robbed him. Complainant also testified that he identified petitioner in a lineup on December 16, 1974, as one of the men who robbed him. Complainant's testimony as to the identification was corroborated by a Chicago Police Investigator, Dan Rolewicz. Complainant also identified petitioner at trial as one of the two men who robbed him. He further testified that petitioner took cash, keys, and a van from complainant's business.*fn2

Petitioner denied robbing complainant and testified that he spent the morning of the robbery in an Unemployment Compensation Office. Petitioner's testimony was corroborated by an employee of the Unemployment Division who testified that petitioner was in her office at the time of the robbery.

In Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 reh. denied, 444 U.S. 890, 100 S.Ct. 195, 62 L.Ed.2d 126 (1979), a federal habeas corpus proceeding in which the petitioner, convicted in state court, alleged he was convicted on insufficient evidence, the Supreme Court held that the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment protects a defendant in a criminal case against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged. See also In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970).

  After Winship the critical inquiry on review of the
  sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction
  must be not simply to determine whether the jury was properly
  instructed, but to determine whether the record evidence could
  reasonably support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable
  doubt. . . . [T]he relevant question is whether, after viewing
  the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution,
  any rational trier of fact could have found the essential
  elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. . . . Once a
  defendant has been found guilty of the crime charged, the
  factfinder's role as weigher of the evidence is preserved
  through a legal conclusion that upon judicial review all of
  the evidence is to be considered in the light most favorable
  to the prosecution. (emphasis in original) (citations omitted).
  Jackson, supra, 443 U.S. at 318 19, 99 S.Ct. at 2789.

The applicant is entitled to habeas relief if it is found that upon the record evidence adduced at trial no rational trier of fact could have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson, supra, 443 U.S. at 324, 99 S.Ct. at 2792. This standard must be applied with explicit reference to the substantive elements of the criminal offense as defined by state law. Jackson, supra, 443 U.S. at 324 n.16, 99 S.Ct. at 2792 n.16. Further, under the standard articulated in Jackson, a federal court in a habeas corpus proceeding faced with a record of historical facts that support conflicting inferences must presume — even if it does not affirmatively appear in the record — that the trier of fact resolved any such conflicts in favor of the prosecution, and must defer to that result. Jackson, supra, 443 U.S. at 326, 99 S.Ct. at 2793.

Applying the standard enunciated in Jackson, this Court must presume that the jury in petitioner's trial resolved the conflict between complainant's identification of petitioner as the person who robbed him and petitioner's alibi defense that he was at the Unemployment Compensation Office at the time of the robbery, in favor of the prosecution. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, this Court finds that a trier of fact could reasonably have found that the essential elements of the crime — robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon*fn3 — were proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, respondents' motion for summary judgment as to the claim of insufficient evidence is granted. It is so ordered.

PROSECUTOR'S CLOSING ARGUMENT

Petitioner alleges that the prosecutor's closing argument to the jury was improper in two respects. The first allegedly improper remark concerned petitioner's dealings with the Unemployment Office and his ...


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