Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

UNITED STATES EX REL. HANRAHAN v. WELBORN

June 22, 1984

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. MICHAEL HANRAHAN, PETITIONER,
v.
GEORGE C. WELBORN AND NEIL F. HARTIGAN, RESPONDENTS.



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.

Facts*fn1

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 appeal.

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 aggravated battery.

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 post-conviction petition.

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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.