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UNITED STATES EX REL. STAMPS v. HARTIGAN

June 20, 1984

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. WILLIAM STAMPS, PETITIONER,
v.
NEIL F. HARTIGAN, RESPONDENT.



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

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, William Stamps was convicted of possession and illegal delivery of more than 30 grams of cocaine and more than 30 grams of heroin. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the conviction. People v. Stamps, 108 Ill. App.3d 280, 63 Ill. Dec. 919, 438 N.E.2d 1282 (1982). Leave to appeal was denied by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Stamps filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus claiming that the trial court denied him due process of law by refusing to allow a requested jury instruction as to the theory of his defense. Presently before the Court is the State's motion for summary judgment. Jurisdiction is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons stated below, the State's motion for summary judgment is granted, and the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.

I. FACTS*fn1

On January 5, 1981, William Stamps was convicted by a jury of the Circuit Court of Cook County of possession and delivery of more than 30 grams of cocaine and more than 30 grams of heroin. (Tr. 1300-1301).*fn2 The trial judge sentenced Stamps to two concurrent terms of 15 years imprisonment. (Tr. 1333). Stamps' only defense at trial was that he was innocently present in a room containing a controlled substance when police officers found him while in pursuit of a suspected drug dealer. Stamps argued this defense during opening (Tr. 167 et seq.) and closing (Tr. 1227 et seq.) statements of the trial.

Having presented his defense, Stamps requested that the trial court instruct the jury that mere presence at the scene would constitute a defense to the charges. (Tr. 1116). The requested jury instruction reads: "Mere presence in a room where narcotics are found is insufficient to prove possession." (Tr. 1116). This requested instruction is a non-Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction ("non-IPI"). The State objected to Stamps' requested instruction and the trial court sustained the State's objection. (Tr. 1119). No clear reason was given for the rejection by the trial court. (Tr. 1116-1120).

The jury instructions allowed by the trial court, in part, are as follows:

  Possession is a voluntary act if the offender
  knowingly procured or received the thing
  possessed, or was aware of his control thereof
  for a sufficient time to have been able to
  terminate his possession. [State's No. 11,
  Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, Criminal, No.
  4.15 (1968)].
  A person commits the offense of possession of a
  controlled substance when he or she knowingly and
  unlawfully possesses a controlled substance.
  [State's No. 14 (non-IPI)].
  A person is in possession of a thing when it is
  knowingly in his or her immediate and exclusive
  control.
  Possession may be actual or constructive. When a
  person knowingly has direct physical control over
  a thing, he or she is then in actual possession.
  A person who lacks actual physical possession of
  a thing but who has control over the area where a
  thing is found, (either directly or through
  another person) is then in constructive
  possession.
  Such control may be shared jointly with others
  and still be exclusive. [State's No. 15
  (non-IPI)].
  To sustain the charge of possession of a
  controlled substance, the State must prove the
  following proposition:
    That a defendant knowingly and unlawfully
    possessed 30 grams or more of a ...

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