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UNITED STATES EX REL. WILLIAMS v. WASHINGTON

September 8, 1994

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. EMMALINE WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
ODIE WASHINGTON, Warden, Respondent.


HOLDERMAN


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES F. HOLDERMAN

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, District Judge:

 Petitioner Emmaline Williams petitions this court for habeas relief. Petitioner claims she was denied effective assistance of counsel at her Illinois state court trial. Petitioner's petition is granted.

 BACKGROUND

 Petitioner and her husband, Roy Williams, were both convicted in a joint bench trial in December 1986 of crimes stemming from the alleged sexual assault upon their adopted daughter, Angela. Angela was thirteen years old at the time of the alleged offenses which allegedly took place in April 1984 in their home. Roy Williams was convicted of rape and sentenced to nineteen years in prison. Petitioner was convicted of indecent liberties with a child and sentenced to a twelve-year term. Roy Williams and petitioner were tried together at a bench trial before Judge Arthur J. Cieslik of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Both petitioner and her husband were represented by attorney Lincoln T. Beauchamp ("Beauchamp").

 Angela testified that, in April of 1984, she was raped by her adopted father, Roy Williams, and sexually molested by both Roy Williams and petitioner. Angela further stated that two weeks after the incident she drafted a letter to her former foster mother describing the incident, but that she never mailed it. In June 1985, over a year later, Angela stated that after petitioner beat her and tried to molest her, she fled to the home of her former foster mother. At that time, she informed her former foster mother of the incident. The police were called and given the letter. On June 17, 1985, both petitioner and Roy Williams were arrested.

 The bench trial was a relatively brief affair, as the only individuals who testified were Angela, Chicago police officer Lux, the petitioner and her husband. No pretrial motions were presented on behalf of the defendants. Other key evidence presented was the letter written by the victim describing the assault upon her ("the letter") and Roy Williams' post-arrest confession ("confession") which implicated both himself and petitioner. Officer Lux also testified as to post-arrest statements made by petitioner that implicated Roy and herself. No character witnesses were presented in favor of defendants, and no witnesses were presented which would cast doubt on Angela's reputation for truthfulness. Medical records indicating the rape did not take place were not presented (although apparently such records existed). There was no evidence presented regarding the fact that no other individuals in the house heard any outcry, despite the fact several people lived in the house and it was apparently not a large building. Roy William's confession was admitted without objection or request for limitation as to its use. The only objection to the introduction of the letter made by Beauchamp was that it had not been produced in discovery. The state's attorney prosecuting the case made a quick examination of Beauchamp's discovery file and located the letter. Beauchamp apologized and the letter was admitted with no further objection. Both Roy Williams and petitioner testified that the incident never occurred. Further, petitioner denied ever making any incriminating statements, and Roy Williams maintained that his confession was both untrue and coerced by false promises of leniency.

 Petitioner, represented by her current attorney, Gary Ravitz, appealed her conviction to the Illinois Appellate Court, People v. Williams, 182 Ill. App. 3d 598, 538 N.E.2d 564, 131 Ill. Dec. 189 (1st Dist. 1989), and the Illinois Supreme Court, People v. Williams, 139 Ill. 2d 1, 563 N.E.2d 431, 150 Ill. Dec. 544 (1990).

 The convictions were affirmed in all respects.

 The following issues were addressed by the appellate court: *fn1"

 
 
- joint representation was improper due to counsel's conflict of interest;
 
- the conflict prevented petitioner from cross-examining Roy Williams;
 
- petitioner was not advised about the conflict and the benefits of separate counsel;
 
- the conflict was further manifested by the admission of Roy Williams' statement implicating both;
 
- counsel was ineffective in several respects, including
 
(a) failing to challenge the voluntariness of the confession;
 
(b) failing to adequately prepare for trial by reviewing the discovery materials provided by the State;
 
(c) failing to object to the letter;
 
(d) failing to move for a severance;
 
(e) failing to obtain witnesses as to Angela's reputation for dishonesty;
 
(f) failing to file pre-trial motions to suppress statements; and
 
(g) failing to adequately prepare for trial by investigating such matters as medical and school records.

 See 538 N.E.2d at 190-192.

 The appellate court rejected all petitioner's arguments. The court held there was no conflict of interest, as both defendants claimed they were innocent and denied making statements. Id. at 191-193. The court further held that counsel was not ineffective because pretrial motions would have been futile, and the case was so simple additional preparation and investigation was unnecessary. Id. The court also concluded the letter was merely cumulative, given Angela's testimony. Id. at 193. Judge Pincham filed a lengthy and vigorous dissent in which he concluded counsel had been disastrously ineffective and the joint trial was highly prejudicial. Id. at 193-234.

 The Illinois Supreme Court addressed *fn2" the following issues:

 
- whether a conflict of interest precluded joint representation;
 
- whether petitioner was prejudiced by the admission of the letter; and
 
- whether defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel.

 563 N.E.2d at 435. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the conviction in all respects. 563 N.E.2d at 435-441.

 Petitioner did not make a post-conviction challenge in the state court system, but instead sought habeas relief before this court. The State has conceded that petitioner has exhausted her ...


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