The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stiehl, District Judge:
This matter is before the Court on a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus. Petitioners, Miriam Wilson, Nadine Schnurstein,
Ronald Barrow, Gloria Abbey-Lyles and Patricia Vader, filed their
petition individually and as next-friends acting on behalf of
Charles T. Walker, an Illinois death row inmate currently
incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center, Chester,
The Court heard oral argument on April 7, 1988, on the petition
and ruled on April 19, 1988, that the petitioners could not
pursue the action under either jus tertii or citizen standing
doctrines. Wilson v. Lane, 697 F. Supp. 1489, 1494-97 (S.D.Ill.
1988). The Court left unresolved the determination as to whether
the petitioners have standing to pursue the action as
next-friends of Walker.
Under next-friend standing, the Court ruled that petitioners
must show why Walker did not sign and verify the petition, as
well as the relationship and interest of the would-be
next-friends. At 1497, citing Weber v. Garza, 570 F.2d 511,
513-14 (5th Cir. 1978). The Court restricted next-friend
standing, ruling that the petitioners may not use the next-friend
petition as a device for the unauthorized practice of law. This
is to prevent the creation of lay advocates who seek to right all
alleged wrongs. Id.
As prospective next-friends, the petitioners alleged that the
conditions of confinement on death row have affected Walker's
capacity to freely and voluntarily exercise his rights to pursue
all post-sentence remedies. After a review of Rees v. Peyton,
384 U.S. 312, 86 S.Ct. 1505, 16 L.Ed.2d 583 (1966), and Lenhard v.
Wolff, 603 F.2d 91 (9th Cir.), 443 U.S. 1306 (Rehnquist, J.,
Opinion in Chambers), stay of execution denied 444 U.S. 807, 100
S.Ct. 29, 62 L.Ed.2d 20 (1979), the Court confined the inquiry to
Walker's competence or capacity to terminate his pursuit of
judicial remedies. The petitioners' reliance on Smith v.
Armontrout, 632 F. Supp. 503 (W.D.Mo. 1986), aff'd, 812 F.2d 1050
(8th Cir. 1987), and Groseclose v. Dutton, 589 F. Supp. 362,
594 F. Supp. 949 (M.D.Tenn. 1984), was found to be misplaced, and the
Court determined that the actual causes of Walker's alleged
incapacity were not at issue. At 1498-99. The issue of capacity
or competence was further limited by the petitioners'
acknowledgement that Walker does not suffer from a mental disease
or disorder. Remaining at issue was whether Walker's waiver was
voluntary, or the result of a flawed mental state due to an
The Court determined that the November 20, 1987 hearing in the
Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Illinois was insufficient as
a matter of law, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), (2), (3) and (6).
The Court held that the state court hearing failed to "address
the issue of whether Walker suffered from a flawed mental state
due to an overborne will." Further, "the sole issue before the
Court is whether Walker suffers from an overborne will which
substantially affects his capacity, thereby rendering his
decision to abandon further relief involuntary." At 1499-1500.
The Court held an evidentiary hearing on August 8, 1988, and
took the matter under advisement. Testifying at the hearing were
Curtis L. Barrett, Ph.D., petitioner's expert; Robert E. Becker,
M.D.C.M., the Court's expert; and Charles T. Walker. Respondent
chose not to have an expert examine Walker. Both experts filed
written reports with the Court.
THE ISSUE OF VOLUNTARINESS
The inquiry before the Court concerns the voluntariness of
Walker's decision. The original petition relied on the Groseclose
decision, and attempted to frame the issue in terms that the
conditions of Walker's confinement rendered any decision he made
involuntary. The Court, however, refused to review the
conditions, per se, and determined that the threshold question
was simply whether Walker's decision not to pursue further legal
remedies was made voluntarily. As the Court in Groseclose stated,
"a defendant's conduct is not voluntary if it is the result of an
overborn will or the product of an impaired self-determination
brought on by the exertion of any improper influences." 594
F. Supp. at 957.
In its prior Order, this Court determined that the voluntary
issue would be reviewed under the capacity test set forth by the
Supreme Court in Rees v. Peyton, 384 U.S. 312, 86 S.Ct. 1505, 16
L.Ed.2d 583 (1966). At 1499. The Rees Court established the
[W]hether he has capacity to appreciate his position
and make a rational choice with respect to continuing
or abandoning further litigation or on the other hand
is suffering from a mental disease, disorder or
defect which ...