The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Michael Hanrahan ("Hanrahan" or simply "Michael") petitions for
a writ of habeas corpus setting aside his state court sentence.
Hanrahan says he was denied effective assistance of counsel at
his sentencing hearing due to an alleged conflict of interest
on the part of his trial attorney Lawrence Suffredin
("Suffredin") — because Suffredin had, before the sentencing
hearing, agreed to represent Hanrahan's codefendant and father
Homer Hanrahan ("Homer") on appeal. Respondents (Centralia
Correctional Center Warden George Welborn and Illinois Attorney
General Neil Hartigan) now move for summary judgment under
Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56. For the reasons stated in this
memorandum opinion and order, that motion is granted and
Hanrahan's petition is dismissed.
Michael and his father Homer were charged with the murder,
aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery of Michael's
mother (Homer's wife). After a trial at which Michael and Homer
were tried jointly but represented by separate counsel, a jury
found Michael not guilty of the murder charge but guilty of the
second and third charges, while finding Homer guilty of all
three charges. Some time after the verdicts and before the
sentencing hearing, Michael's attorney Suffredin agreed to
represent Homer on appeal and actually filed Homer's notice of
At the sentencing hearing Michael and Homer continued to be
represented by separate counsel (Suffredin acting for Michael,
and another lawyer representing Homer). Suffredin presented
four witnesses in mitigation on Michael's behalf, including
Father James Chereso, a psychiatric social worker who testified
(R. 1832) there was "a symbiotic relationship between Michael
and his father in which the father dominates. And the result of
this is that I don't think Michael has ever found out who he
really is as an individual." Suffredin argued (R. 1846):
[Michael] was the unaggressive member in the actions that led
to Marion Hanrahan's death.
The jury separated him from his father by its verdict, and
separated his actions from those that caused part of the
occurrence and those that caused the actual death.
At the conclusion of the hearing the trial judge sentenced
Michael to concurrent terms of 10 to 25 years for aggravated
kidnapping and 3 to 10 years for aggravated battery, and Homer
to concurrent sentences of 50 to 100 years for murder, 20 to 40
years for aggravated kidnapping and 3 to 10 years for
Both convictions were upheld on appeal. People v. Hanrahan,
64 Ill. App.3d 207, 20 Ill.Dec. 866, 380 N.E.2d 1075 (1st Dist.
1978), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 828, 100 S.Ct. 53, 62 L.Ed.2d
36 (1979). After certiorari was denied Michael moved pursuant
to Ill. Rev.Stat. ch. 38, ¶ 1005-8-1(d) for reduction of
sentence before the judge who had sentenced him originally.
Although the trial court granted his motion, reducing the
sentences to 5 years' probation for aggravated kidnapping and 1
to 10 years for aggravated battery, the Illinois Supreme Court
vacated that reduction by writ of mandamus. People ex rel.
Carey v. Collins, 81 Ill.2d 118, 39 Ill.Dec. 795,
405 N.E.2d 774 (1980).
Shortly thereafter Michael filed a post-conviction petition in
the state court, arguing the original sentencing hearing was
tainted by Suffredin's simultaneous representation of Michael
(for all purposes) and Homer (for purposes of appeal) at that
time. That petition was denied, and the denial was upheld by
the Appellate Court of Illinois in a November 15, 1982
unpublished order. Having thus exhausted his state remedies,
Michael now seeks review of the issue posed by his
Conflicts of Interest: The Constitutional Standard
Michael contends Suffredin was burdened by a conflict of
interest and thus did not make appropriate arguments in
mitigation at the sentencing hearing. Michael suggests that out
of concern for the interests of his other client Homer,
Suffredin declined to say or show anything damaging about
Homer. According to Michael the best argument to make in
mitigation would have been to foist as much of the blame as
possible on Homer's shoulders, with the consequence that
Michael would be seen as less culpable.
There is however an obvious and fatal flaw in that contention:
Suffredin did make just such an argument. As the "Facts"
section of this opinion indicates, not only did Suffredin argue
to the judge that Michael was "the unaggressive member" of the
two codefendants, he also deliberately presented a witness in
mitigation, Father Chereso, who pointed to a symbiotic
relationship between Michael and his father and testified that
he believed Michael experienced identity through Homer.
In response Michael falls back to the position Suffredin's
argument was not as forceful as it would have been had there
been no ...