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UNITED STATES EX REL. SANDERS v. DETELLA

January 4, 1993

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. MICHAEL SANDERS, Petitioner,
v.
GEORGE E. DETELLA, Warden, Danville Correctional Center, Respondent.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN E. ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge:

 Presently before the court is Michael Sanders' pro se petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In support of his petition, Sanders contends that: (1) the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) he was denied his right to a preliminary hearing; (3) the pretrial identification was suggestive; and (4) he was denied effective assistance of trial counsel. Respondent George E. Detella, Warden of the Danville Correctional Center in Danville, Illinois, has moved to dismiss Sanders' petition, contending that he was not properly named as a party respondent. For the reasons set forth below, we deny both respondent's motion to dismiss and the petition for writ of habeas corpus.

 I. Background

 Following a bench trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Sanders was convicted of murder, Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 38, P 9(a), attempted murder, Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 38, P 8-4(a), and aggravated battery, Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 38, P 12-4(a). The following facts supporting these convictions are taken directly from the state trial record, and are presumed accurate. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) (1988); see also Montgomery v. Greer, 956 F.2d 677, 680 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 113 S. Ct. 460, 121 L. Ed. 2d 368 (1992).

 The charges against Sanders stemmed from a shooting incident occurring in the early morning hours of October 28, 1984, resulting in injuries to four people. Sanders was identified as the shooter by two barmaids (Irene Cady and Brenda west), both of whom were working a Halloween party at Rodney's Hideaway in Chicago. Cady testified that prior to the shooting, Rodney Wilson (the owner of the bar) and Sanders' codefendant (Rudy Powell) had an argument in Sanders' presence. Sanders and Powell spoke briefly in the back of the bar, and both men were escorted outside by an employee of Rodney's Hideaway. Subsequently, Powell reentered the bar to speak with his girlfriend. Cady's next recollection was that of the shooting. Sanders had broken the bar's front window and began shooting inside. With the aid of a bar light, Cady was able to identify Sanders as the shooter prior to ducking for cover beneath the bar. Cady testified that, following the shooting, she was taken to the police station, where she identified Sanders. At the time of her identification, Sanders was not presented in a traditional line-up for identification. Rather, he was in the process of being detained. Later, Cady viewed Sanders through a window while he was sitting alone. Once again she identified Sanders as the shooter.

 West, the other barmaid who witnessed the occurrence, was off duty at the time of the shooting. As did Cady, West witnessed the disturbance between Powell and Wilson. As West was getting ready to exit the bar, Powell told her to "get out of there" because he thought there might be trouble. West left Rodney's Hideaway and sat in her car parked directly in front of the bar. She observed Powell and Sanders leave the bar and have a conversation. While Powell reentered the bar, Sanders "ran across in front of the car and went across the street towards his house." Sanders returned several minutes later carrying a black plastic bag in front of him. Sanders then began firing in the direction of the bar with a gun concealed by the bag. West testified that, after the initial shots, Sanders broke the front window and began firing into the bar. Afterwards, Sanders fled back across the street towards his house. West, like Cady, went to the police station shortly after the shooting. After viewing Sanders through a glass window while he lay sleeping alone in a room, West identified Sanders as the shooter.

 On October 29, 1984, Sanders appeared in court and was advised that he had been charged with four counts of aggravated battery. The court appointed Sanders counsel, set bond and granted a continuance until November 9, 1984. On November 7, 1984, prior to the conduct of a preliminary hearing, a Cook County grand jury indicted Sanders on charges of armed violence, attempted murder, aggravated battery and intimidation. On November 10, 1984, John Pruitt, one of the victims, died of his wounds and, Sanders was indicted on additional charges of murder.

 The court found Sanders guilty of the murder of John Pruitt and the attempted murder and aggravated battery of Marcella Haymer. Sanders was sentenced to concurrent terms of thirty-eight, eighteen, and five years respectively. Sanders appealed directly to the Illinois Appellate Court, challenging only his conviction for aggravated battery on the basis that it was a lesser included offense of attempted murder. In an unpublished order, the appellate court vacated Sanders' aggravated battery conviction, but affirmed his convictions for murder and attempted murder. People v. Sanders, 165 Ill. App. 3d 1158, 536 N.E.2d 1018, 129 Ill. Dec. 968 (1st Dist. 1987). Sanders' petition for leave to appeal his convictions and sentences to the Illinois Supreme Court was denied on November 9, 1987. In that petition, Sanders argued for the first time that: (1) he was denied his right to preliminary hearing; (2) the pretrial identification was suggestive; and (3) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions.

 On April 4, 1988, Sanders filed a petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that: (1) he was denied his right to a preliminary hearing; (2) the pretrial identification was suggestive; (3) he was denied his right to representation at the grand jury hearing resulting in the indictments; and (4) he was not informed of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966). Notably absent from his petition is his claim that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions. The petition was argued on September 4, 1991, and, upon the State's motion, dismissed. Sanders appealed the dismissal and, on February 13, 1992, the appellate court affirmed. Subsequently, Sanders filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, once again maintaining that: (1) he was denied his right to a preliminary hearing; and (2) the pretrial identification was suggestive. Sanders did not challenge his lack of representation at the grand jury hearings nor did he allege that he was not informed of his Miranda rights. Sanders, however, raised the following new grounds for relief: (1) that there was insufficient probable cause to support the indictments; (2) that he was denied effective assistance of counsel at trial; and (3) that he was denied the right to counsel in his post-conviction appeal. The Illinois Supreme Court denied Sanders' petition and, on June 29, 1992, he filed the present petition for writ of habeas corpus.

 II. Motion to Dismiss

 The gravamen of respondent's motion to dismiss is that Sanders named the "People of the State of Illinois" rather than George E. Detella, Warden of the Danville Correctional Center in Danville, Illinois, as the party respondent. It is undeniable that the proper party respondent to a petition for habeas relief is the custodian of the petitioner. See Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (1992) ("If the applicant is presently in custody pursuant to the state judgment in question, the application shall be in the form of a petition for writ of habeas corpus in which the state officer having custody of the applicant shall be named as respondent."); see also Reimnitz v. State's Attorney of Cook County, 761 F.2d 405, 408 (7th Cir. 1985). Further, Sanders did not name Warden Detella as respondent in his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Nonetheless, Sanders is proceeding in this court pro se and, as such, his pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S. Ct. 594, 596, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1972); Maclin v. Paulson, 627 F.2d 83, 86 (7th Cir. 1980).

 Sanders' pleadings make clear that he knew Detella was the proper party respondent. In his memorandum in support of the petition, Sanders not only named the Attorney General as a respondent, but he also named "Danville Warden George Detella," i.e., the proper party respondent. Further in Sanders' reply in support of his petition for habeas relief (incorrectly entitled an "answer"), Sanders begins: "Respondent George E. Detella, being represented by the attorney generals [sic] office of Illinois, is detaining petitioner illegally." Accordingly, under the liberal ...


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