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UNITED STATES EX REL. RODRIGUEZ v. PETERS

October 16, 1990

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. VICENTE RODRIGUEZ, Petitioner,
v.
HOWARD A. PETERS, III, Respondent



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUA

 NICHOLAS J. BUA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 After pleading guilty to murder, Vicente Rodriguez was sentenced to a 40-year term of imprisonment. Dissatisfied with this sentence, Rodriguez now petitions this court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ┬ž 2254. Rodriguez claims that his conviction is invalid because he entered an involuntary plea of guilty. This court disagrees, and denies his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

 I. FACTS

 In 1987, Rodriguez was charged with murder and armed violence in connection with the fatal stabbing of Luis Ramierez. Rodriguez entered a plea of not guilty to these charges. On the date set for trial, however, Rodriguez withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty to murder. Before accepting the plea, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Fred G. Suria, Jr. informed Rodriguez of the possible sentences the court could impose:

 
Do you realize, if I do accept your plea on the charge of murder, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of 40 years. And under certain circumstances either of the case, itself and/or your background, that penalty could be enhanced to 80 years in the penitentiary.
 
Under certain circumstances, there is also [a] possibility for a life sentence without parole and also a death penalty.
 
Under the circumstances of this case and the State has advised me, this is not a death penalty case.

 (Tr. 10.) In response to this admonishment, Rodriguez indicated that he understood the consequences of pleading guilty to murder. (Tr. 10.)

 After the parties stipulated to the factual basis of the plea, Judge Suria again advised Rodriguez of the potential sentence:

 
Mr. Vicente Rodriguez, before asking you, if you would agree to these stipulations of facts, if those parties were called that would be their testimony, I should point out to you that the indicated range of sentence was between 20 and 40 years. Under certain circumstances, it could be enhanced to 80 years or to a life sentence. Because of your age, you are not eligible for the death penalty.
 
I should also indicate that there is a legal question as to whether or not you could be, under the factual situation of this case, and your background, your record, if you will, whether or not you would be sentenced to more than 40 years. So, that means that 40 years may very well be the maximum sentence.

 Despite Rodriguez' initial willingness to plead guilty, he subsequently filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Finding that Rodriguez had knowingly and voluntarily pleaded guilty, Judge Suria denied the motion. This ruling was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court. See People v. Rodriguez, No. 1-87-3431 (1st Dist. Dec. 22, 1989). On ...


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