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Gray v. Greer

May 25, 1983

DAVID A. GRAY, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
JAMES GREER, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, East St. Louis Division. No. 81 C 3313 -- Gerald Cohn, Magistrate.

Before BAUER, WOOD and CUDAHY, Circuit Judges.

Per Curiam. Petitioner appeals from the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The magistrate dismissed the petition because it contained exhausted and unexhausted claims in the same petition. Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 102 S. Ct. 1198, 71 L. Ed. 2d 379 (1982). Upon a review of the record, we conclude the Illinois post-conviction statute, Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 38 § 122-1, et seq., does not provide petitioner a meaningful remedy; therefore, he has exhausted his state remedies and we remand the case to the district court for a determination on the merits.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In order to determine whether petitioner Gray has exhausted his claims in state court, it is necessary to review the procedural history of his case. David Gray was convicted of attempted murder, rape and armed robbery and was sentenced to sixty years in prison. Petitioner appealed his conviction to the Illinois Appellate Court contending that: (1) his guilt was not established beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) statements of petitioner's cellmate improperly were introduced into evidence; (3) the prosecutor improperly and incorrectly explained the concept of reasonable doubt to the jury; and (4) the trial court improperly sentenced petitioner to an extended sentence. The appellate court affirmed the conviction and the Illinois Supreme Court denied leave to appeal.

Petitioner then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court raising four issues. One issue raised concerned the composition and selection of the jury. Petitioner claimed that blacks were precluded from participation in the jury. The district court found this jury claim had not been exhausted.

Petitioner returned to the Illinois courts and filed a petition for post-conviction relief raising three issues: (1) the prosecutor unlawfully used his peremptory challenges to exclude blacks from the jury; (2) the prosecutor influenced jurors with racial allegations; and (3) the prosecutor improperly used perjured testimony. Petitioner was represented by appointed counsel on his petition for post-conviction relief. The petition for post-conviction relief was denied because petitioner had waived the issue of discriminatory use of peremptory challenges by failing to raise it on direct appeal, and the issue of perjured testimony was res judicata because the petitioner raised the issue on direct appeal and the appellate court rejected it. The court did not rule on petitioner's second claim of improper prosecutorial remarks.

Petitioner appealed the denial of his post-conviction petitioner. Due to the fact that petitioner wished to raise the issue of incompetence of his original appellate counsel in his appeal of the denial of his post-conviction motion, his post-conviction counsel requested leave to withdraw. Post-conviction counsel was from the same agency as the appellate counsel; therefore, a conflict of interest was presented when petitioner challenged the competency of his original appellate counsel. The court appointed another attorney to represent petitioner on his post-conviction appeal. The newly appointed counsel did not raise the issue of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel in the appellate brief. The denial of petitioner's post-conviction motion was affirmed on appeal.

Prior to the Illinois Appellate Court's denial of petitioner's appeal, petitioner filed the present habeas petition in federal district court. Petitioner raises three issues in the present habeas petition: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel on the direct appeal from his conviction; (2) the constitutionality of the jury selection and impanelling process that resulted in the exclusion of Blacks from the jury; and (3) denial of his right to appeal from the rejection of his post-conviction motion.*fn1 Pursuant to the consent of the parties, the case was transferred to a magistrate.

The magistrate denied Gray's habeas petition because it contained both exhausted and unexhausted claims in the same petition. Rose v. Lundy, supra. Petitioner appeals the dismissal of his habeas petition.

II. DISCUSSION

A district court cannot grant a writ of habeas corpus unless the petitioner has "exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State. . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b). In order to exhaust his state remedies a petitioner must give the state courts the initial opportunity to address his federal constitutional claims. Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275, 30 L. Ed. 2d 438, 92 S. Ct. 509 (1971); Toney v. Franzen, 687 F.2d 1016, 1021 (7th Cir. 1982). The exhaustion requirement serves to minimize conflicts between state and federal courts. Duckworth v. Serrano, 454 U.S. 1, 102 S. Ct. 18, 70 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1981); Perry v. Fairman, 702 F.2d 119 (7th Cir. 1983).

The statute does provide an exception to the exhaustion requirement. A federal district court may entertain a habeas petition if "there is either an absence of available State corrective process or the existence of circumstances rendering such process ineffective to protect the rights of the prisoner." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b). The exhaustion requirement of § 2254(b) refers only to state remedies still available to the petitioner at the time he files the federal habeas petition. Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 102 S. Ct. 1558, 1570, 71 L. Ed. 2d 783 n.28. In addition, the remedy offered by the state must be a meaningful remedy. Perry v. Fairman, supra at 2.

The magistrate denied Gray's habeas petition because it contained both exhausted and unexhausted claims in the same petition. The magistrate noted that petitioner had never presented his claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel to the Illinois courts in a post-conviction petition; therefore, his claim was not exhausted. The issue in this case is whether the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 38, § 122-1, et seq., provides petitioner with a meaningful remedy for his claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.*fn2

This court has held that the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act is an "ineffective remedy" in circumstances where the Illinois courts strictly apply the doctrine of res judicata or waiver*fn3 in post-conviction motions. United States ex rel. Williams v. Brantley, 502 F.2d 1383 (7th Cir. 1974). An issue raised on direct appeal from a conviction is res judicata in a subsequent Illinois post-conviction petition; an issue which could have been raised on direct appeal, but was not, is waived. People v. James, 46 Ill.2d 71, 263 N.E.2d 5 (1970). The Illinois courts, however, have developed an exception to this res judicata rule. When fundamental fairness requires that this rule be relaxed, the Illinois courts will reach the merits of a claim. People v. Hamby, 32 Ill.2d 291, 205 N.E.2d 456 (1965). The concept of "fundamental fairness" is quite limited and this court has held that a petition should be dismissed for failure to exhaust a claim "only if there is direct precedent indicating that under the particular circumstances of a prisoner's case the waiver doctrine will be relaxed." United States ex rel. Williams v. Brantley, 502 F.2d at 1386. A petitioner need not pursue a petition for post-conviction relief in order to exhaust a ...


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