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United States v. Greer

June 19, 1984

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. RONALD C. HUCKSTEAD, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
JAMES GREER, WARDEN, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 82-2371 -- Harold A. Baker, Judge.

Pell, Bauer, Circuit Judges, and Marovitz, Senior District Judge.*fn*

Author: Marovitz

MAROVITZ, Senior District Judge.

Huckstead appeals from the District Court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In this appeal, as in the petition for habeas corpus, Huckstead raises two grounds for relief: 1) that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney failed to tender the proper self-defense jury instruction; and 2) that he was denied a fair trial because the tendered instructions did not specifically state that the burden of proving that he did not act in self-defense was upon the state. The District Court, after reviewing the transcript of Huckstead's trial, concluded that he did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel, and that he waived his right to argue that he did not receive a fair trial by failing to comply with certain state procedural rules. We affirm.

A detailed recitation of the facts is not necessary for purposes of our review. Suffice to say that Huckstead, Ronnie Blagg and the victim Murray Dixon had an argument at the Corner Lounge Tavern in Mattoon, Illinois. Huckstead and Dixon went outside and engaged in a short fight in which Huckstead received a minor cut from a knife. The police came and cooler heads prevailed for the moment. Huckstead apparently made certain comments about "getting Dixon" and a police officer testified that Huckstead stated that he was going home to get his gun. Huckstead did in fact run home and get a loaded .22 caliber automatic rifle. He then drove back to the bar and sat in his car and waited for Dixon. When Dixon came out of the bar Huckstead called him over to the car. They then again engaged in an argument with Dixon shouting "you have a gun, so use it" and "go ahead and shoot me". Although the evidence conflicts somewhat at this point, apparently Dixon moved his right hand to his side and Huckstead shot him seven times and then drove off.

Huckstead was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. The conviction was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court in an unpublished order, and by the Illinois Supreme Court in an opinion published at 91 Ill. 2d 536, 440 N.E.2d 1248, 65 Ill. Dec. 232 (1982). A more complete statement of the facts can be found in that opinion.

At trial, Huckstead testified on his own behalf and admitted shooting Dixon. His sole defense was based upon his claim that he acted in self-defense and was therefore justified in using the amount of force that he used. Among the instructions that the jury received were:

IPI Criminal No. 2.03

"The defendant is presumed to be innocent of the charge against him. This presumption remains with him throughout every stage of the trial and during your deliberations on the verdict, and is not overcome unless from all the evidence in the case you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

The State has the burden of proving the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, and this burden remains on the State throughout the case. The defendant is not required to prove his innocence."

IPI Criminal No. 7.02

"To sustain the charge of murder, the State must prove the following propositions:

First : That the defendant performed the acts which caused the death of Murray Dixon;

Second : That when the defendant did so, he intended to kill or do great bodily harm to Murray Dixon, or he knew that his act would cause death or great bodily harm to Murray Dixon, or he knew that his acts created a strong ...


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